The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has granted UCI materials engineer Alon Gorodetsky a Young Faculty Award in support of his work to create smart fabrics for soldiers. The assistant professor of chemical engineering & materials science is one of 27 researchers nationwide to receive the prestigious award. Gorodetsky studies the adaptive properties of squid skin. He has developed strategies to produce reflectin, a protein found in cephalopods, and has used the protein in reconfigurable, color-changing technologies. His group has manufactured cephalopod-inspired coatings on rigid and soft support surfaces and has utilized chemical, mechanical and electrical stimuli to turn the appearance of the coatings from visible to near-infrared. Building on this work and with the award’s $500,000, Gorodetsky plans to create a new generation of camouflage materials that dynamically adapt to their surroundings. “This could make a big difference in protecting soldiers on the battlefield,” Gorodetsky said. “It will allow us to explore new high-risk-but-high-payoff strategies for making such materials a reality.” DARPA’s Young Faculty Award program identifies rising research stars in U.S. academic institutions and introduces them to Department of Defense needs in hopes of fostering the next generation of academics in key disciplines who will focus on DOD and national security issues.