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headshot of Gabe Montano

Gabriel Montaño
Professor, NAU

Dr. Gabriel Montaño is a native New Mexican born and raised in Gallup, NM and has spent his academic and professional careers in the southwest.  Gabriel attended New Mexico State University where he received his Bachelors of Science in Biology in 1997 and was introduced to research working in the lab of Dr. Peter Houde.  He then attended Arizona State University where he completed his PhD in the lab of Dr. Robert Blankenship in 2002.  Upon completion of his PhD., Gabriel accepted a postdoctoral appointment in biomaterials design with Dr. Andy Shreve at Los Alamos National Laboratory where he was an Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Fellow.  In 2005, Gabriel accepted a position as a Technical Staff Member with the newly developed Department of Energy-Center for Integrated Nanotechnologies (CINT) where he remained until the fall of 2017.  In the fall of 2017, Montaño moved to Northern Arizona University (NAU) and led the creation of the Center for Materials Interfaces in Research and Applications (¡MIRA!).  In addition, he led the establishment of the Department of Applied Physics and Materials Science at NAU and serves as Department Chair.  In the spring of 2019, Dr. Montaño was also selected to serve as the NAU Diversity Fellow and oversees all diversity initiatives at NAU.   


Dr. Montaño’s lab group investigates membrane biophysics and non-equilibrium bio-inspired materials.  In particular, they are interested in bio- and bio-synthetic interfaces and supramolecular structure/function relationships.   Many biological processes rely on complex interfacial interactions to drive function ranging from infectious diseases to organ function and complex processes such as photosynthesis.  Understanding and mimicking such interactions are the focus of the Montaño team.  Gabriel is as devoted to outreach initiatives as he is to his research, in particular to enhancing diversity in the Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) workforce.  Among his outreach efforts, Gabriel has served as a Board Member and as President of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS), as a member of numerous committees and Task Forces including the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) STEM task. Most recently, Montaño led NAU in establishing its first-ever Diversity Strategic plan with a vision of becoming a True Diversity University. He has dedicated his career to demonstrating to aspiring scientists the possibility of being an effective, high-impact research scientist while making a difference through outreach initiatives that can help current and future generations of scientists.

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