Johan L. van Leeuwen

Prof. dr. ir. Johan van Leeuwen is the head of the Experimental Zoology group at Wageningen UR (since 1999) and director of the graduate school Wageningen Institute of Animal Sciences (WIAS). His research combines physics, engineering, molecular techniques and modelling to solve fundamental problems in biology. By looking at the relationship between form and function, he aims to explain structural changes in evolution and development. Prof. van Leeuwen studied biology (MSc) and completed his PhD on the biomechanics of prey-capture in fish (both with honours). He is an expert biologist with focus on biomechanics, modelling and biomimetics, former member of the World Council of Biomechanics, former convenor of the Biomechanics group of the Society for Experimental Biology, and a former member of the Academic Board of Wageningen University. During his career, he tackled a wide range of biomechanical problems, including the bio-fluid dynamics of swimming and flight, the biomechanics of muscular hydrostats such as tentacles of squid and tongues of the chameleon and salamanders, architectural optimization in muscles, and the developmental biomechanics of muscles and bones. Recently, he started bio-inspired projects on wet bio-adhesion and steerable needles (in collaboration with TUD–BmechE, using the biophysical mechanisms in tree frogs, sea urchins, and parasitic wasps as inspiration. He has published more than 110 scientific journal papers and his WOS h-index is 31. Van Leeuwen’s long-lasting research collaboration with applicant Breedveld has led to new knowledge and discoveries on how parasitic wasps are able to penetrate hard substrates using their ovipositor (egg-laying tube) and how tree frogs are able to adhere to substrates using their sticky toe pads.