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Beth Mortimer
Beth Mortimer


2016 Mortimer, B., Soler, A., Siviour, C. R., Zaera, R. and Vollrath, F. Tuning the instrument: sonic properties in the spider’s web, J. R. Soc. Interface, 13 (22) access

2016 Guan, J., Wang, Y., Mortimer, B., Holland, C., Shao, Z., Porter, D. and Vollrath, F. Glass transitions in native silk fibers studied by DMTA. Soft Matter, 12, pp. 5926-5936 access

2015 Mortimer, B. & Holland, C. The use of spider silk as a biomaterial. In: Basu, A. (ed.) Advances in Silk Science and Technology. Cambridge: Woodhead publishing.

2015 Mortimer, B. & Vollrath, F. - Diversity and properties of key spider silks, Research & Knowledge, 1 (1): 32-42 access

2015 Mortimer, B. - Animal silks: denatured super proteins, Interface column in Biological Sciences Review, November issue.

2015 Mortimer, B., Holland, C., Windmill, J. F. C. & Vollrath, F. - Unpicking the signal thread of the sector web spider Zygiella x-notata. J. R. Soc. Interface, 12: 113 access

2015 Mortimer, B., Guan, J., Holland, C., Porter, D., & Vollrath, F. - Linking naturally and unnaturally spun silks through the forced reeling of Bombyx mori. Acta Biomaterialia 11: 247-255 access, including audio slides

2014 Mortimer, B., Gordon, S. D., Holland, C., Siviour, C. R., Vollrath, F., & Windmill, J. F. C. - The speed of sound in silk: Linking material performance to biological function. Advanced Materials 26 (30): 5179-5183. access

2013 Mortimer, B., Holland, C. & Vollrath, F. - Forced Reeling of Bombyx mori Silk: Separating Behavior and Processing Conditions. Biomacromolecules 14 (10): 3653-3659 access

2013 Mortimer, B., Drodge, D.R., Dragnevski, K.I., Siviour, C.R. & Holland, C. - In situ tensile tests of single silk fibres in an environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM). Journal of Materials Science, 48 (14):5055-5062 access

2012 Drodge, D.R., Mortimer, B., Holland, C. & Siviour, C.R. - Ballistic Impact to Access the High-Rate Behaviour of Individual Silk Fibres. Journal of the Mechanics and Physics of Solids, 60 (10): 1710-1721 access




Awarded 1851 Research Fellowship, to commence October 2016

PI on Hester Cordelia Parsons Memorial Fund Grant (c.£2k) – ‘Vibrational communication in animals’


PI on Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour Grant (c.£4k) – ‘Vibration sensitivity in Caenorhabditis elegans’


PI on John Fell Fund Grant (c.£8800) – ‘Elephants’ vibration landscapes’

PI on Major Research Grant from Jesus College (c.£2300) - ‘Elephants’ vibration landscapes’

Thesis Commendation from the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences Division of the University of Oxford. Thesis passed with no corrections.

Awarded £1000 public engagement grant from Institute of Physics, for science fair March 2014 (physics)

Nominated by the University of Oxford to attend the Global Young Scientists’ Summit, organized by the National Science Foundation, Singapore, January 2014


Second prize (€2k) in Zwick Science Award 2013 for Biomacromolecules 2013 paper (materials science)

Winner of best oral presentation in the General Biomechanics session at SEB conference 2013 (biology)

Winner of best student talk at ISV conference 2013 (biology)




Silks as tunable biological materials, European Solid Mechanics conference, Madrid, July 2015

Remote monitoring: the signal thread of the sector web spider Zygiella x-notata, Invertebrate Sound and Vibration conference, Ottawa, Canada, July 2015

Silks as bespoke materials, Departmental seminar at University of Sheffield, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, March 2015

Spider Silk: Nature’s multifunctional material, Institute of Physics (Hereford & Worcester branch), March 2015


Sonic properties of spider silks, Polytec Users’ Meeting, Warwick, September 2014 (invited)

Forced reeling of Bombyx mori, Zwick Academia Day, Madrid, April 2014 (invited - award winner)

Multipurpose spider silks: the implications of web impact on vibration signalling, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology conference, Austin TX, January 2014


Sonic properties of silk, Invertebrate Sound and Vibration conference, Glasgow, 25th July 2013 * Best student talk prize winner *

Spider silk under high-rate impact: energy management and mechanical properties, Society for Experimental Biology conference, Valencia, 4th July 2013 * 1st prize winner in General Biomechanics session *

Silk as a humidity sensor inside the ESEM: The role of coating, tension and pump-down procedure, 1st LIMA Users Club Meeting, Engineering Science Department, Oxford, 20th March 2013


The sound of silk: understanding how silk transmits vibrations, New College Colloquium, Oxford, 22nd November 2012

Spider silk, Hypernature, Beyond Fashion Summit 2012, Berlin, 15th November 2012 (invited industry engagement talk)

The sound of silk: linking high-rate impact to silk vibration, poster at Physics meets Biology 2012 Institute of Physics conference, Oxford, 3rd September 2012

Shooting silk: Stress strain properties of single fibres at high-rate, 18th Congress of the European Society for Biomechanics, Lisbon, 4th July 2012

The sound of silk: Linking high-rate impact to silk vibration, ABRG seminar, Zoology Department, Oxford, 14th June 2012

Silk Research: an interdisciplinary success story? ‘Nature of Physics’ Franckensymposium 2012, Groningen, 15th May 2012 (invited)

Spiders, school assembly at Cundall Manor School, North Yorkshire, 1st March 2012 (invited public engagement talk)


SHARD: Silk in High rate Applications and Research into Damage Tolerance, CUE group, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, 17th January 2012

Shooting silk: techniques to study silk fibres under high-speed impact, poster at Biofuture 2011, Ghent, 17th November 2011

Shooting silk: techniques to study silk fibres under high-speed impact, poster at Society for Experimental Biology’s Annual Main Meeting 2011, Glasgow, 4th July 2011

SHARD: Silk in High rate Applications and Research into Damage Tolerance, ABRG seminar, Zoology Department, Oxford 16th June 2011


Public engagement


Café Scientifique talk on ‘Spider webs and silks’, Oxford branch, September 2016

Lead exhibitor for stand at Royal Society Summer Exhibition, July 2016

‘Spider Silk: Nature’s multifunctional material’ talk at Institute of Physics, West Midlands Branch, February 2016


Work on silk vibration featured in Sonic Trail of TATE modern exhibition - I Don't Know or The Weave of Textile by Richard Tuttle, TATE modern, October 2014 - April 2015 more information

Beth starts as Access Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford. Please email her if you are interested in any school visits from her!

SILK stand at Big Bang National Fair, NEC Birmingham, March 2014

Science Journalism piece published: The softer side of nature: caterpillars inspire new-age robots" for Society of Integrative and Comparative Biology access


Beth registers as a 'STEM ambassador', October 2013

Lab tour organised for University of Oxford Alumni weekend 2013, Zoology Department, September 2013

Silks, spiders and other materials as part of Oxford University Science Roadshow, St Birinus School, Didcot 21st March 2013 and Oaskgrove School, Milton Keynes 22nd March 2013


Spider silk, Hypernature, Beyond Fashion Summit 2012, Berlin, 15th November 2012

Designed and presented (at opening) spider silk exhibit at ‘Magical Materials’ exhibition at Science Gallery, Dublin 15th September- 4th November 2012

I’m a Scientist, Get me out of here, June 2012 participant in Materials Zone, 11th-22nd June 2012

Spiders, school assembly at Cundall Manor School, North Yorkshire, 1st March 2012

Spider silk lesson, 12-13 year olds, St Martin’s Ampleforth School, North Yorkshire, 1st March 2012


Spider silk lesson, 10-11 year olds, Zoology Department, Oxford, 27th June 2011




Work on web vibration featured in Daily Mail Online, Gizmodo, BBC Radio Oxford and BBC Radio Scotland


Video on spider vibration work on YouTube, access here

Section on spider silk vibration for BBC's Autumn Watch, with Chris Packham available online

Work of silk sonic properties featured in: National Public Radio (US), New York Times, Daily Mail Online and National Geographic amoungst others. The article reached the second highest altmetric score for the journal.

Documentary on spider silks for Eden Channel - David Attenborough's Natural curiosities, Series 2, Spinners and Weavers, aired March 2014.


Work on silkworm paralysis featured in the World Textile Information Network's magazine, Twist, November 2013. Read excerpt here and article here

BBC Radio 4 documentary 'Silk', aired October 2013 access

Work on silkworm paralysis featured in online article, September 2013 access

BBC News article on slow motion, 8th July 2013 access

BBC News article on firing projectiles into silk, 7th July 2013 access

BBC Oxford live radio interview on spider silks, 6th June 2013


Helped in research for Monocle 24 radio station on ‘Spider venoms’, 4th September 2012

Superfreaks of Nature, episode 2, aired on Quest channel, 23rd August 2012 access

Falterwelten: Die Natur als Vorbild, German TV program on silkworm silks, aired 7th February 2012 access

Quoted in ‘Is spider web technology a possibility of just a spin?’ Metro article, 13th January 2012 access


Recent News

November 2019

Prof. Fritz Vollrath and colleagues from the Fudan University in China are widely covered in the news for their discovery of a means to produce fake Rhino horns using horse hair. Hopes are that this product may undermine the illegal market for rhino horn, and demistify the properties of rhino horn. View Here


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