Sunrise Session

Randy Lewis

Spider Silk: An Ancient Biomaterial for the Future

Dr. Lewis’ research focuses on the “ancient new” material of natural silks produced by spiders. His work is creating the potential to mass-produce innovative materials that are stronger than steel and stretchier than nylon. His research has garnered press attention from around the world and commercial interest from numerous companies. In his presentation, Dr. Lewis will discuss the importance of spider silk and its many potential uses, such as ligament and tendon repair, bulletproof skin, high-tech clothing, parachutes, and airbags. He will give an overview of his group’s work to reproduce those silks using a variety of different systems including bacteria, goats, alfalfa and silkworms. Dr. Lewis will also discuss several new discoveries made since he came to USU in June.

Randy Lewis

USTAR Professor of Biology
Synthetic Biomanufacturing Center


Dr. Lewis received his bachelor’s degree from CalTech and his master’s and Ph.D. from the University of California at San Diego. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Roche Institute of Molecular Biology before he joined the faculty at the University of Wyoming in 1980 as professor of molecular biology. He also served as department chair for five years and as a special assistant to the vice president for research before coming to Utah State in 2011. Currently, Lewis is a USTAR professor of biology in the Synthetic Biomanufacturing Center.

Dr. Lewis’ group has published over 130 papers in a wide variety of journals and has written 16 book chapters. They have seven issued patents and grants totaling over $31 million. Their research has also been featured widely in the press (National Geographic, Time) and on television (Discovery channel, Nova, CNN’s The Big I, and CSI: NY).