Dr Michael Gomez
Lecturer in Engineering
Dr Michael Gomez is a Lecturer in Engineering, having joined King’s in October 2023. His research centres on elastic instabilities, or how soft objects undergo abrupt shape changes in response to external loads or intrinsic transformations. Driven by the burgeoning field of ‘extreme mechanics’, which harnesses elastic instabilities such as buckling and wrinkling for novel functionalities, he seeks to develop quantitative understanding of features that are of direct relevance to engineering applications; particularly dynamic effects and how systems behave when pushed far beyond the threshold of instability. His general methodology is to analyse carefully-constructed model systems using a combination of analytical techniques, numerical simulations and desktop-scale experiments, recognising this initial abstraction stage as a powerful tool to clarify physical phenomena and motivate the overall modelling process.
Michael is particularly interested in slender structures (rods, plates, shells) that possess complex internal structure: the material/geometric properties vary significantly over the thickness/width, or non-uniform residual stresses arise due to active processes such as thermal expansion, swelling, or growth. Examples include randomly crumpled elastic sheets, which are characterised by a permanent, geometrically ‘disordered’ network of creases; and biofilaments resulting from molecular assembly such as the bacterial flagellar filament.
Previously, Michael completed a BA in Mathematics at Christ Church, University of Oxford (2010–2013), followed by a MSc in Mathematical Modelling and Scientific Computing (2013–2014). He then moved to Pembroke College, Oxford, where he completed a DPhil in Mathematics supervised by Dominic Vella and Derek Moulton (2014–2018). His doctoral research was dedicated to ‘snap-through’, a type of instability in which an elastic object rapidly jumps from one state to another (as seen for example in the leaves of the Venus flytrap and applications such as artificial heart valves). Other projects he worked on in Oxford include the interaction between elastic instabilities and viscous flows, spherical shells under point indentation (‘poking’), and electrostatic ‘pull-in’ instabilities in microelectromechanical systems (MEMS).
Between 2018 and 2021, Michael was a Research Fellow at Peterhouse, University of Cambridge. In collaboration with Eric Lauga (DAMTP), he studied the role played by elastic instabilities in bacterial locomotion. Prior to joining King’s, Michael completed a post-doc at the Flexible Structures Laboratory within EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne), co-advised by Pedro Reis and Basile Audoly (CNRS & École Polytechnique), where he developed reduced-order descriptions of slender structures with complex internal structure.
- Slender structures
- Elastic instabilities and their dynamics
- Mechanical metamaterials
- Shape-morphing structures
- Soft robotics