Before joining MIT in 2005, he served as the Director of Multiscale Modeling and Software Integration at Caltech’s Materials and Process Simulation Center in the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. He received a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Stuttgart and the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research after obtaining a M.S. in Engineering Mechanics from Michigan Tech, and undergraduate studies in Chemical and Process Engineering at the University of Stuttgart.
Buehler has a background in materials science, engineering science and applied mechanics. Buehler’s research focuses on bottom-up simulation of structural and mechanical properties of biological, bioinspired and synthetic materials across multiple scales, with a specific focus on materials failure from a nanoscale and molecular perspective, and on developing a fundamental understanding of how functional material properties are created in natural, biological and synthetic materials. He is best known for the use of simple computational models to explain complex materials phenomena in biology and engineering from a bottom-up perspective.
His recent work has focused on applying a computational materials science approach to study materials failure in biological systems, including the investigation of material breakdown in a variety of diseases and other extreme conditions across multiple time- and length-scales. His key contributions lie in the field of deformation and failure of structural protein materials such as collagen and silk, where his work revealed universal material design paradigms that enable protein materials to provide enhanced and diverse functionality despite limited resources (energy, material volume, weak building blocks such as H-bonds, etc.), and demonstrated how these mechanisms break down under extreme conditions and disease (impact, trauma, mutations, flaws, etc.). The impact of his work has been the establishment of the universality-diversity paradigm, explaining how multifunctionality (diversity) of material properties in biology is achieved by changing structural arrangements of few (universal) constituents rather than inventing new building blocks, or through reliance of the quality of building blocks. Some of Buehler's current work involves the use of ologs, a category-theoretic framework for knowledge representation, to encode the structure-function relationships inherent in hierarchical materials.
Buehler has published more than 300 articles on theoretical and computational modeling of materials using various types of simulation methods, a monograph on atomistic modeling, a book on Biomateriomics, several book chapters, and has given hundreds of invited lectures, keynote talks and plenary speeches. He collaborates broadly with experimental researchers in the United States, Europe and Asia. He serves as a PI and co-PI on numerous research grants, including several interdisciplinary research projects funded by the National Science Foundation, Department of Defense, and other organizations.
His teaching at MIT focus on engineering mechanics and modeling and simulation, and on introducing undergraduate and graduate students to computational research.