Elena Gorb

Dr. Elena Gorb


  • Since 2010 - researcher, Department of Functional Morphology and Biomechanics, Zoological Institute, Kiel University, Kiel, Germany
  • 2003 - 2010 - researcher, Evolutionary Biomaterials Group, Max Planck Institute for Metals Research, Stuttgart, Germany
  • 2000 - 2002 - researcher, Biological Microtribology Group, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Tuebingen, Germany
  • 1999 - PhD in biology-botany from the National Academy of Sciences, Kiev, Ukraine (PhD thesis „Myrmecochory in deciduous forest (adaptations, mechanisms, selective advantages)”)
  • 1993 - 2000 - assistant professor, Department of Botany, Biological Faculty, Kiev University, Kiev, Ukraine
  • 1987 - 1993 - post-graduate student, Department of Botany, Biological Faculty, Kiev University, Kiev, Ukraine
  • 1987 - diploma from the Kiev University in biology-botany of higher plants, Kiev, Ukraine (diploma thesis „Genus Viola L. in the flora of Ukraine”)
  • 1982 - 1987 - study at the Kiev University, Kiev, Ukraine

Research interests

  • A plant surface as a substrate for insect attachment (since 2001, see project). The aim of this project is to examine the effect that different structures occurring on a plant surface have on attachment ability of insects. Emphasis is put on surfaces exhibiting anti-adhesive properties (i.e. considerably worsening or preventing the adherence of insects), e.g. surfaces covered with crystals of epicuticular waxes. Carnivorous plants from the genus Nepenthes L. presenting a range of insect-related surfaces are among those used as model plants.
    The characterisation of plant surfaces includes the investigation of surface morphology, tissue structure and surface profile, and estimation of the physico-chemical and mechanical properties, using light and scanning electron microscopy, white-light interferometer, high-speed contact angle measuring device, micro-force testers, atomic force microscope and nano-indenter. Behavioural experiments as well as centrifugal and traction tests with insects having different types of attachment devices are designed to quantify insect attachment ability. The results obtained are used for development of anti-adhesive and anti-insects coatings, foils and materials.
  • Natural hook-and-loop fasteners (since 1999). We studied external morphology, anatomy and mechanical properties of the hooks covering a fruit surface in epizoochorous plants adapted to dispersal by mechanical interlocking to fur and feathers of passing animals.
  • Seed dispersal by ants (1994-1999). We investigated adaptations, mechanisms and selective advantages of this dispersal mode in the deciduous forest ecosystem of the Central Ukraine from the plant perspective.
  • Systematics of violets (1987-1997). We performed comparative morphological and anatomical studies of pollen grains, seed coat and characteristic macromorphological features in different species of pansies in order to solve some problems in the systematics of this group.

Other interests

  • Insect-plant interactions in general, seed dispersal, systematics and evolution of higher plants.


  • Practical course in biol-102 Basics of Zoology (Grundlagen der Zoologie) for BACHELOR OF SCIENCE/EDUCATION.
  • Participation in practical courses and seminars in biol-167 Basics of Biomimetics (Grundlagen der Bionik) for BACHELOR OF SCIENCE/EDUCATION, biol-251 Functional Morphology of Invertebrates (Funktionelle Morphologie der Invertebraten) and biol-252 Biomechanics and Biomimetics with the Emphasis on Surfaces (Biomechanik und Bionik mit dem Schwerpunkt Oberflächen) for MASTER OF SCIENCE/EDUCATION.
  • Supervision of Bachelor Thesis and relevant modules for BACHELOR OF SCIENCE/EDUCATION and Master Thesis and relevant modules for MASTER OF SCIENCE/EDUCATION.
  • Supervision of internship Methods of the Biomechanics and Biomimetics (Methoden der Biomechanik und Bionik) for BACHELOR OF SCIENCE/EDUCATION and MASTER OF SCIENCE/EDUCATION.