Dr. Petra Ditsche


Petra Ditsche, PhD.

03/20-now           Project managment DBU project “Development of a bionic oil adsorber (BOA), Nees-Institute for
                          Plant Biodiversity, Biological Surfaces, University of Bonn, Germany
07/19-now           Founder of the start-up “ClingTechBionics, Germany
09/18-now           Affiliate Assistant Professor at the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alaska
                          Anchorage, USA
9/18-6/19            Travel and project work in Latin America (Evaluation of the consequences of planned water
                          concessions on the downward located watershed, Longomai, Costa Rica)
08/16-7/18           Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alaska
                          Anchorage, USA
08/13-07/16         Research Associate at the Friday Harbor Laboratories, Comparative Biomechanics,
                          University of Washington, USA
09/12-07/13         Research Scientist at the Biomimetics-Innovation Centre of the University of Applied
                          Science Bremen, Germany
06-09/12             DAAD Postdoctoral Fellow at Friday Harbor Laboratories, University of Washington, USA
01/11-06/12         Postdoctoral research associate at the Zoological Institute, Functional Morphology and
                          Biomechanics, University of Kiel, Germany
01/06-12/10         Ph.D. student (<09), project coordinator (>09) at Nees-Institute for Plant Biodiversity, Biological
                          Surfaces, University of Bonn, Germany
05/99-12/12         Consultant in limnology and water protection, Frankfurt, Germany
01/95-05/99         Collaborator (95-97) and head (97-99) of watershed management and water protection group at
                          Thueringian Reservoir Administration, Germany

University of Bonn, Germany                                                       PhD.                 Zoology                     2009
Max-Planck-Inst. Metal Res., Evol. Biomat. Stuttgart, Germany                              visiting researcher      2008
Technical Univ. Dresden, Germany                                               Diploma             Hydrobiology              1994
Univ. Düsseldorf, Germany                                                          Prediploma         Biology                      1991

Peer reviewed publications
P. Ditsche, & A. Summers. Learning from Northern Clingfish (Gobiesox maeandircus): Bioinspired suction cups attach to rough surfaces. Phil. Trans. R Soc. B, 374: 20190204 DOI 10.1098/rstb.2019.0204 (cover story).

Featured in Focus (Italian edition), Science Daily, Phys Org, and others
M. Grear**, S. Crofts, A. Witt*, A. Summers & P. Ditsche (2017) Biomechanical properties of Harbor Seal skin and blubber as input data to model blade strike impact. Zoology DOI 10.1016/j.zool.2017.11.002
P. Ditsche, M. Hicks*, L. Truong*, C. Linkem* & A. Summers (2017) From smooth to rough, from water to air: the intertidal habitat of Northern clingfish (Gobiesox maeandricus) Sci Nat 104: 33. doi:10.1007/s00114-017-1454-8.
P. Ditsche, E. Gorb, M. Mayser**, S. Gorb, T. Schimmel & W. Barthlott (2015) Elasticity of the hair cover in air-retaining Salvinia surfaces. Applied Physics A DOI 10.1007/s00339-015-9439-y.
P. Ditsche & A. Summers (2014) Aquatic versus terrestrial attachment – water makes a difference. Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology Special Issue
Biological and Bioinspired Adhesion and Friction, 5: 2424-2439.
P. Ditsche, D. Wainwright* & A. Summers (2014) The impact of surface roughness and fouling on suction adhesion in Northern Clingfish. Journal of Experimental Biology
217: 2548-2554 (cover story).

Featured in Daily Planet (Discovery Channel Canada), Science Daily, Phys Org, NSF News (Topstory), National Geographic online and others
P. Ditsche, J. Michels, A. Kovalev, J. Koop & S. Gorb (2014) More than just slippery – The impact of biofilm on the attachment of non-sessile freshwater mayfly larvae. Journal of the Royal Society Interface 11: 20130989. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rsif.2013.0989
P. Ditsche-Kuru
, W. Barthlott & J. H. E Koop (2012) At which surface roughness do claws cling? - Investigation with the larvae of the running water mayfly larvae Epeorus assimilis (Heptageniidae, Ephemeroptera). Zoology 115: 379-388.
P. Ditsche-Kuru, E. Schneider*, J.-E. Melskotte, M. Brede, A. Leder & W. Barthlott (2011) Superhydrophobic surfaces of the water bug
Notonecta glauca: A model for friction reduction and air retention, Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology 2: 137–144.
H.-J. Ensikat, P. Ditsche-Kuru, C. Neinhuis & W. Barthlott (2011).
Superhydrophobicity in Perfection: the outstanding Properties of the Lotus Leaf. Beilstein Journal of Nanotechnology 2: 152–161.
H.-J Ensikat, P. Ditsche-Kuru & W. Barthlott (2011) Scanning electron microscopy of plant surfaces: simple but sophisticated methods for preparation and examination. In:
Microscopy: Science, Technology, Applications and Education, Vol. 1. Eds. by A. Mendez-Vliess & J. Diaz. Formatex Research Center, Badajoz, Spain. p. 248-255.
T. Masselter, W. Barthlott, G. Bauer, J. Bertling, F. Cichy, P. Ditsche-Kuru, F. Gallenmüller, M. Gude, T. Haushahn, M. Hermann, H. Immink, J. Knippers, J. Lienhard, R. Luchsinger, K. Lunz, C. Mattheck, M. Milwich, N. Mölders, C. Neinhuis, A. Nellesen, M. Rechberger, S. Schleicher, C. Schmitt, H. Schwager, R. Seidel, O. Speck, T. Stegmaier, I. Tesari, M. Thielen, and T. Speck (2011) Biomimetic products. In: Bar-Cohen, Y. (ed.), Biomimetics – Nature Based Innovation p. 377-429. CRC Press, Pasadena.
A. Balmert, H.F. Bohn, P. Ditsche-Kuru & W. Barthlott (2011) Dry under water: Comparative Morphology and Functional Aspects of Air-Retaining Insect Surfaces, Journal of Morphology 272 (4): 442-451
P. Ditsche-Kuru, J.H.E. Koop & S.N. Gorb (2010) Underwater attachment in current: the role of setose attachment structures on the gills of the mayfly Epeorus assimilis (Ephemeroptera, Heptageniidae), The Journal of Experimental Biology 213: 1950-1959.
P. Ditsche-Kuru & J.H.E. Koop (2009) New insights in a life in current: Do the gill lamellae of Epeorus assimilis and Iron alpicola larvae (Heptageniidae) function as a sucker or as friction pads?
Aquatic Insects 31 (1): 495-506.

Invited symposia and seminar talks (10 of 23)
P. Ditsche. Holding tight when it gets rough – Animal attachment in aquatic flow environments. Institutskolloqium, University of Freiburg, Germany, 11.07.19.
P. Ditsche, A. Stark, D.
 J Irschick. Biological attachment mechanisms - from dry to wet: examples and applications. ICVM, Washington D.C., USA, 06.05.2016.
P. Ditsche.
Attachment as a key of survival in challenging aquatic habitats, Instituts-kolloquium, Universität Kiel, Zoologisches Institut, Germany, 06.07.2015.
P. Ditsche. Bioinspired suction attachment from the sea. The Adhesive and Sealant Council- 2015 Spring Convention & EXPO, Gaylord Opryland Resort, Nashville, TN, USA, 21.04.2015.
P. Ditsche. Living in challenging habitats - Biomechanics of animal attachment in streams and the marine intertidal, Seminar talk, Bellingham, Western Washington University, USA, 29.10.2014.
P. Ditsche-Kuru. Living in strong currents – Biomechanics of attachment in stream mayfly larvae and intertidal fish, FHL Autumn seminar series, Friday Harbor Laboratories, University of Washington, USA, 23.10.2013.
P. Ditsche-Kuru & S. Gorb.
Strömungsanpassungen von Eintagsfliegen, Limnological seminar, Limnological Institute Iffeldorf, Technical University of Munich, Germany, 15.12.2011.
(Translation: Adaptations to currents in stream mayfly larvae)
P. Ditsche-Kuru, J. Koop, S. Gorb & W. Barthlott. Von Unterwasserhaftung bis Reibungsreduktion – Aquatische Insekten als Ideengeber. ITV Denkendorf, Germany, Symposium of Energy and Biomimetics, 12.05.2011. (Translation: From underwater attachment to friction reduction – Aquatic insects as model organisms for biomimetic applications)
P. Ditsche-Kuru.
Strömungsanpassungen von Eintagsfliegenlarven – Oder was haben Epeorus assimilis und Iron alpicola (Heptageniidae, Ephemeroptera) mit dem Gecko gemeinsam? Max Plank Institute Metal Research, group Evolutionary Biomaterials, Germany, 01.03.2008 (Adaptations to currents in stream mayflies – Or what have E. assimilis and I. alpicola in common with the gecko?)
P. Ditsche. Eignung von Picea abies und Alnus glutinosa für die Uferbestockung von Talsperrenzuläufen. Limnol. seminar, Eidgenössischen Anstalt für Wasserversorgung, Abwasserreinigung u. Gewässerschutz EAWAG, Dübendorf, Switzerland, 11.05.1995.
(Translation: Suitability of alder and spruce as shore plantings for inflows to drinking water reservoirs)

Presentations and published abstracts (15 of 50)
(students supervised or co-supervised by me: *undergraduate, **graduate)
P. Ditsche, E. Natekin, T. Liang & C. Wilga. Big Skate (Raja binoculata): Crushing hard prey with cartilaginous jaws – A matter of shape? Talk. Ann. Meet. SICB San Francisco, 3-6.01.2018
P. Ditsche & A. Summers. Learning from Northern clingfish: New bio-inspired suction cups attach to rough surfaces. Talk. SEB, Annual Meeting, Gothenburg, Sweden, 3-6.07.2017
P. Ditsche, P. Jackson, A. Wooster, L. Aspelund, C. Wilga,
R. Turingian, L. Penrod, B. Dumont & L. Ferry. Biomechanical properties of the jaw and hyoid of Elasmobranchs. Talk. Ann. Meet. SICB, New Orleans, 4-8.01.2017.
M. Grear**, P. Ditsche & S. Motley. Development of a material constitutive model for Killer Whale and Harbor Porpoise.
Talk. Ann. Meet. SICB, New Orleans, 4-8.01.2017.
P. Ditsche, A. Summers. Clingfish inspired suction cups – Holding tight when it gets rough.
Talk. Ann. Meet. SICB, New Orleans, 4-8.01.2017.
M. Hicks*, Ch. Linkem*, L. Truong*. A. Summers & P. Ditsche. An easy and applicable method to measure roughness in the marine intertidal. Poster. Ann. Meet. SICB, Portland, 3.-7.01.2016.
P. Ditsche & A. Summers. Northern Clingfish: How to use suction on rough surfaces. Talk. SEB, Annual Meeting, Prague, Czech Republic, 30.06.2015.
P. Ditsche, Jan Michels, Alexander Kovalev, Jochen Koop, Stanislav Gorb.
More than just slippery - The impact of biofilm on the attachment of the running water mayfly Epeorus assimilis. Talk. Society of Freshwater Science. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 18.05.2015.
P. Ditsche & A. Summers. Bioinspired suction attachment from the sea. Talk. Annual Meeting, Adhesion Society, Savannah, Georgia, 25.02.2015.
P. Ditsche & A. Summers. Aquatic versus terrestrial animal attachment – water makes a difference. Talk. Annual Meeting SICB, West Palm Beach, 3.-7.01.2015
L. Truong*, Ch. Linkem*, B. Briones Ortiz* & P. Ditsche. Northern Clingfish (Gobiesox maeandricus) - Substrate characteristics, changing water levels and wave forces. Poster. Annual Meeting SICB, West Palm Beach, 3.-7.01.2015.
P. Ditsche-Kuru, D. Wainwright* & A. Summers. Sticky or slippery? - The impact of fouling on suction adhesion in Northern Clingfish. Talk. EU COST Workshop Biological Adhesives, Cluj Napoca, Romania, 09.-11.04.2013.
P. Ditsche-Kuru, J. Michels, A. Kovalev, J. Koop & S. Gorb. The impact of biofilm on the attachment of mobile aquatic insects. Poster. International Conference on Biological and Biomimetic Adhesives, Lis Boa, Portugal, 8-12.05.2012.
P. Ditsche-Kuru & S. Gorb.
Underwater attachment to substrates of different surface roughness – The role of gill lamella surfaces in running water mayfly larvae Epeorus assimilis. Talk. Annual Meeting SEB in Glasgow, 01.-04.07.2011.
P. Ditsche-Kuru & J. Koop.
New insights in a life in current: Do gill plates of Epeorus assimilis and Iron alpicola larvae (Heptageniidae) really have a sucker function? Talk, International Conference on Ephemeroptera and the 16th International Symposium on Plecoptera, Stuttgart 2008.

Teaching and Outreach
I taught several classes in the field of aquatic animals, marine biology and limnology as a full instructor at the Friday Harbor Laboratories (University of Washington) and the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Moreover, I did lots of public science talks and science lessons at elementary and middle schools to foster the public interest in science. Under them were talks at the Rotary club San Juan Island (WA, USA) or an outreach program with students of the Alaska Native and American Indian Science and Engineering Program. In Costa Rica I volunteered in a water protection project in Longomai to help the local people dealing with water issues.

My research on clingfish was covered in the biomimetic TV series “Nature knows best” shown on Fox and other TV channels as well as on Daily Planet (Discovery channel Canada). Here I explain what we can learn from Northern clingfish’s attachment mechanisms and how to use this knowledge to build bioinspired suction cups, which work on rough and slimy surfaces in a wet environment. Several articles in popular journals such as Phys Org, Science Daily and National Geographic online wrote about our clingfish research are explaining the possibilities to learn from nature for technical applications to a broader audience.

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