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Yuan-Cheng Bert Fung is recognized as having two exceptional careers and as a key contributor to the diverse engineering fields of aeroelasticity and biomechanics.
Fung was born in China in 1919. He began his career in the field of aeronautics, receiving bachelor’s and master's degrees in that field from the Central University of China in 1941 and 1943, respectively.
Fung immigrated to the United States in 1945 to continue his studies at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), earning a Ph.D. in aeronautics and mathematics (Summa Cum Laude) in 1948. While a student, he began his professional career as an assistant in aeronautics in 1946.
Following graduation, Fung continued his research in aeroelasticity for nearly 20 years and is credited with helping define this field. He also published 46 technical papers and reports and three books on aeroelasticity, solid mechanics, and continuum mechanics. His textbooks have been revised and are popular in the U.S., Europe, China, and Japan.
In 1958 while a professor of aeronautics, Fung began a dramatic change in careers. Applying his earlier experience, Fung began work in the just-emerging field of biomechanics. In 1966, he resigned his aeronautics chair at Caltech and moved to the University of California at San Diego to initiate a program in bioengineering. Fung's work introduced totally new concepts, particularly in the area of pulmonary mechanics, helping to motivate many new investigations in the field. His work also extended into microcirculation, blood cell rheology, and constitutive modeling of biologic tissues.
During the 1980s, Fung produced three books on biomechanics, now classics in the field with worldwide acceptance. In 1988, Fung introduced the new concept of "tissue engineering," which is now incorporated into both biology and molecular biology.
Since his retirement from the University of California in 1991, Fung has remained an active contributor to the field. Most recently, he proposed using the basic laws of mechanics to analyze biologic growth and possibly even the aging process.
Fung has received numerous honors, including the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the California Institute of Technology, and the Bioengineering Award from the Japan Society of Mechanical Engineering. He also has the honor of being one of only eight people elected to membership in the National Academy of Engineering (1979), Institute of Medicine (1991), and the National Academy of Sciences (1992). He also is a member of the Academy of Science in Beijing, and the Academia Sinica in Taipei, China.