Imperial College London


Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Bioengineering

Senior Lecturer



+44 (0)20 7594 5679d.labonte Website




B213DBessemer BuildingSouth Kensington Campus





David Labonte is a Lecturer at the Department of Bioengineering with an interest in how physical constraints shape biological systems and evolutionary processes (In short, David likes animals, and he likes physics). David’s group is multidisciplinary, and welcomes students, post-doctoral researchers and anyone else with a background in natural sciences or engineering. The group studies fundamental biological phenomena from a mechanical perspective, including the reversible and high-performing adhesives found on the feet of many climbing insects, tree frogs, and geckos, the tricks and secrets of nature’s most iconic herbivores – the leaf-cutter ants – and the odd fracture behaviour of biological ceramics.

David joined the Department in 2018, after holding the Denman Baynes Senior Research Fellowship at Clare College and the Engineering Department at the University of Cambridge. Prior to his postdoctoral research, David graduated from the University of Applied Sciences in Bremen, Germany, with a degree in Biomimetics, and was awarded a PhD from the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, in 2015.

For more information, please see the group website.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Labonte D, Lenz A-K, Oyen ML, 2017, On the relationship between indentation hardness and modulus, and the damage resistance of biological materials, Acta Biomaterialia, Vol:57, ISSN:1742-7061, Pages:373-383

Graupner N, Labonte D, Muessig J, 2017, Rhubarb petioles inspire biodegradable cellulose fibre-reinforced PLA composites with increased impact strength, Composites Part A - Applied Science and Manufacturing, Vol:98, ISSN:1359-835X, Pages:218-226

Labonte D, Federle W, 2016, Biomechanics of shear-sensitive adhesion in climbing animals: peeling, pre-tension and sliding-induced changes in interface strength., Journal of the Royal Society Interface, Vol:13, ISSN:1742-5662

Labonte D, Clemente CJ, Dittrich A, et al., 2016, Extreme positive allometry of animal adhesive pads and the size limits of adhesion-based climbing, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol:113, ISSN:0027-8424, Pages:1297-1302

Labonte D, Federle W, 2015, Rate-dependence of 'wet' biological adhesives and the function of the pad secretion in insects, Soft Matter, Vol:11, ISSN:1744-683X, Pages:8661-8673

Hackmann A, Delacave H, Robinson A, et al., 2015, Functional morphology and efficiency of the antenna cleaner in Camponotus rufifemur ants., Royal Society Open Science, Vol:2, ISSN:2054-5703

Labonte D, Federle W, 2015, Scaling and biomechanics of surface attachment in climbing animals, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, Vol:370, ISSN:0962-8436

Akerboom S, Appel J, Labonte D, et al., 2015, Enhanced adhesion of bioinspired nanopatterned elastomers via colloidal surface assembly, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, Vol:12, ISSN:1742-5689

Fonville JM, Wilks SH, James SL, et al., 2014, Antibody landscapes after influenza virus infection or vaccination, Science, Vol:346, ISSN:1095-9203, Pages:996-1000

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