The Faculty


We study the geometry and biomechanics of surgical anatomies and biological interfaces


Duke University, B.S., 2001University of Chicago, M.S., 2005

University of Chicago, Ph.D., 2009

University of Chicago, M.D., 2011

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Surgery Resident, 2011 - 2018

University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Postdoctoral Fellow, 2014 - 2016

University of Chicago, Vascular Surgery Fellow, 2018 - 2020

University of Chicago, Assistant Professor, 2020 -


2020 University of Chicago Provost's Global Faculty Award

2017 University of Pittsburgh Center for Medical Innovation Research Awardee

2016 University of Pittsburgh Innovation Institute First Gear Fellowship

2016 Universidad de Santiago de Chile Travel Award

2015 University of Pittsburgh Center for Medical Innovation Research Grant

2014 American College of Surgeons Resident Research Scholarship

2009 National Science Foundation Chicago-Chile Materials Collaboration Internship

2003-2011 University of Chicago Medical Scientist Training Program Scholarship

Research Interests

The Pocivavsek Lab (SurgBioMech) is an inter-disciplinary lab that combines the physical sciences, engineering, and medicine. We apply principles from differential geometry and mechanics to understand aortic pathology, stability and failure of endovascular repairs, stress focusing phenomena induced by surgical interventions, and interfacial adhesion, surface renewal, and topography. We utilize advanced computational methods to extract and define geometric feature spaces that can be linked to mechanical instabilities from patient derived data; finite element methods to model a variety of complex systems, geometries, and materials under different conditions; computational fluid dynamics to study stability of seal zones with flow; micro-computed tomography to detect the underlying fiber-reinforced structures of tissues; x-ray scattering techniques to probe the structure and interactions of cell monolayers on solid substrates; and Langmuir monolayers to study the wrinkling, folding, and collapse behaviors of films at air/water interfaces.

Selected Publications

Carotenuto AR, Nguyen N, Cao K, Gaffney A, Waring AJ, Lee KYC, Owen D, Fraldi M, Deseri, Pocivavsek L. Multiscale geometry and mechanics of lipid monolayer collapse. Curr Top Membr. 2021;87:1-45.

Abbott E, Dhara S, Khabaz K, Sankary S, Cao K, Nguyen N, Babrowski T, Pocivavsek L, Milner R. Computational analysis of endovascular aortic repair proximal seal zone preservation with endoanchors: a case study in cylindrical neck anatomy. JVS Vasc Sci. 2021;2:170-178.

Pocivavsek L, Milner R. Dynamic seal at the aortic neck-endograft interface studied using a novel method of cohesive zone modeling. J Vasc Surg. 2020;72(2):703-713.

Dhara SS, Hermsen M, Khabaz K, Abbott E, Babrowski TA, Milner R, Lee CJ, Pocivavsek L. Gaussian Surface Curvature Mapping Indicating High Risk Type B Thoracic Aortic Dissections. Ann Vasc Surg. 2021;70:171-180. 

Nguyen N, Nath N, Deseri L, Tzeng E, Velankar SS, Pocivavsek L. Wrinkling instabilities for biologically relevant fiber-reinforced composite materials with a case study of Neo-Hookean/Ogden-Gasser-Holzapfel bilayer. Biomech Model Mechanobiol. 2020;19:2375-2395.

Nath NN, Pocivavsek L, Pugar JA, Gao Y, Salem K, Pitre N, McEnaney R, Velankar S, Tzeng E. Dynamic Luminal Topography: A Potential Strategy to Prevent Vascular Graft Thrombosis. Front Bioeng Biotechnol. 2020; 8:573400.

Pocivavsek L, Ye SH, Pugar J, Tzeng E, Cerda E, Velankar S, Wagner WR. Active wrinkles to drive self-cleaning: A strategy for anti-thrombotic surfaces for vascular grafts. Biomaterials. 2019; 192:226-234.

Pocivavsek L,Pugar J, O’Dea R, Ye SH, Wagner W, Tzeng E, Velankar S, Cerda E. Topography-driven surface renewal. Nature Phys. 2018; 14:948–953.Pocivavsek L, Junghans A, Zebda N, Birukov K, Majewski J. Tuning endothelial monolayer adhesion: a neutron reflectivity study. Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol. 2014;306(1):L1-L9. 

Pocivavsek L, Efrati E, Lee KYC, Hurst RD. Three-dimensional geometry of the Heineke-Mikulicz strictureplasty. Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2013;19(4):704-711. 

Pocivavsek L, Frey SL, Krishan K, Gavrilov K, Ruchala P, Waring AJ, Walther FJ, Dennin M, Witten TA, Lee KYC. Lateral stress relaxation and collapse in lipid monolayers. Soft Matter. 2008;4:2019-2029.

Pocivavsek L, Dellsy R, Kern A, Johnson S, Lin B, Lee KYC, Cerda E. Stress and fold localization in thin elastic membranes. Science. 2008;320(5878):912-916.

BPHYS Student

Anna Gaffney