Readers of Eric Appel’s academic profile will note appointments in materials science, bioengineering and pediatrics, as well as fellowship appointments in the ChEM-H institute for human health research and the Woods Institute for the Environment. While the breadth of these appointments does not leap to mind as being particularly consistent, the connections quickly emerge for those who hear Appel talk about his research.
Appel is an expert in gels, those wiggly, jiggly materials that aren’t quite solid, but not quite liquid either. Gels’ in-betweenness is precisely what gets engineers like Appel excited about them. Appel has used gels for everything from new-age fire retardants that can proactively prevent forest fires to improved drug and vaccine delivery mechanisms for everything from diabetes to COVID-19. Hence the appointments across engineering and medicine.