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Michael Thouless was first elected to an Overseas Fellowship in 2011. He is the Janine Johnson Weins Professor of Engineering, and an Arthur F Thurnau Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, and in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He was educated at King Edwards School, Birmingham before going to Churchill College, Cambridge to read engineering. He got his BA in 1981, and then did graduate work in materials science at the University of California, Berkeley, working on the creep rupture of ceramics. He was awarded his PhD in 1984, and then worked as an Assistant Research Engineer at UC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara. There he worked on the fracture of ceramic composites and the spalling of coatings and thin films. In 1988, he moved to the Physical Sciences Department at IBM as a Research Staff Member, where he developed a research program on interface mechanics and the mechanical properties of layered materials. He then moved to the University of Michigan in 1995 where he has worked on the fracture of adhesive joints, the mechanics of adhesion and interface cracks, and the mechanical properties of coatings.
Recently, he has also been working on fracture-fabrication techniques for nano-scale devices, creep and wear in nuclear structures, and design strategies for protection against blast and impact. He was awarded an ScD from Cambridge University in 2009, and is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining. He held a visiting position at Qinghua University in 1994, and was an Otto Mønsted Guest Professor at the Danish Technical University (2013-2014), and was previously an Overseas Fellow at Churchill College in 2011. He is married with two daughters. His wife, Yi-Li Wu, is a historian, studying Qing Dynasty medicine, with a current interest in forensic and injury medicine.