Susanna Thon, Paulette Clancy, and Rama Venkatasubramanian join researchers from Morgan State University to establish innovative materials research center

HEMI Fellows Susanna Thon, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Paulette Clancy, professor and head of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Rama Venkatasubramanian, team leader in Energy and Thermal Management at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, have collaborated with researchers at Morgan State University in an initiative designed to not only advance materials research but also to establish the first center of its kind at any Historically Black College or University.

Ramesh C. Budhani, professor of physics at Morgan State, has recently been awarded a $7.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) to found the Center for Advanced Electro-Photonics with 2D Materials. Thon and Clancy serve as co-PIs on the grant. Other key contributors to the project include Venkatasubramanian and David Shrekenhamer from the JHU Applied Physics Laboratory.

“Johns Hopkins is pleased to be a partner with Morgan State on this initiative. By furthering the relationship between our institutions via the Center for Advanced Electro-Photonics with 2D Materials, we are creating pathways of success for students while increasing our research capacity in the area of next-generation materials for a variety of applications,” said Thon. “We are especially excited about the potential to attract top-notch talent to Baltimore by combining the strengths of our two schools.”

Fundamental to the Center’s research operations will be its mission to train underrepresented diverse students by expanding talent pipelines within the technology workforce and defense sector. The exposure of students to specific technologies, and their accumulated experience attained at the newly created center, will increase proficiencies and marketability within private and public sector industries. The cornerstone of the applied experience made available through the Center’s research will be summer internships for both Morgan and JHU students, co-advising of PhD dissertations, and joint annual workshops. Additional funding from the grant will underwrite internships for 10 to 15 undergraduate students and five students from area high schools and community colleges.

“Through the establishment of this center, STEM students have a space to perform cutting-edge research on an emergent class of quantum materials and technologies for clean energy, electromagnetic sensing and information processing,” says Clancy. “They also have the opportunity to create lasting relationships with researchers outside of their home institution. The impact this center will have on the workforce within the materials research community will be significant.”

The DoD funding will provide vital resources in the realm of scientific research rooted in thin films and nanostructures of refractory metal dichalcogenides and layered materials of a semiconductor and thermoelectric material called bismuth telluride, which is often used as a topological insulator. These layered materials will be synthesized at Morgan. Subsequent highly critical stability calculations and growth kinetics modeling of the 2D materials, along with experimental device development, will be performed by JHU and APL researchers.


Andrew Proulx named program manager for MSEE URA

Andrew Proulx, former senior grants & contracts analyst with the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute (HEMI), has been named as program manager for the Materials Science in Extreme Environments University Research Alliance (MSEE URA).

Building off his prior experience, Proulx now will be responsible for planning, budgeting, contracting, subawarding, and reporting on behalf of the MSEE URA. He will work closely with PIs from each of MSEE’s 18 research institutions, individuals from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and personnel from Johns Hopkins University to develop solutions to program challenges and ensure compliance with federal and university policies.

“I am excited to expand my role within HEMI by taking on the responsibilities of MSEE Program Manager. I look forward to building relationships with both internal and external partners and helping to guide the MSEE URA as it grows over the coming years.”

Proulx was hired in 2018 and received a Staff Excellence award in 2020 from the Whiting School of Engineering.

The MSEE URA was established in 2020 with a $35 million, five-year grant to Johns Hopkins from the U.S. Department of Defense. The award was given to lead an alliance of major research institutions in an effort to understand, predict, and control the behavior of materials in extreme conditions caused by weapons of mass destruction. The MSEE URA is housed within HEMI.

Justin Moreno and Scott McGhee Receive 2021 Whiting School of Engineering Staff Excellence Awards

HEMI is pleased to announce that team members Justin Moreno and Scott McGhee were selected as winners of 2021 Whiting School of Engineering Staff Excellence Awards. Justin won in the Rookie of the Year category and Scott won the inaugural Leadership Award.

Justin joined the HEMI team in 2020 as an associate staff engineer.  He came to us after working with Survice Engineering and the CCDC Army Research Laboratory doing neuroscience research on sleep and motor control. He currently helps manage research laboratories at HEMI – specifically the Hypervelocity Facility for Impact Research Experiments (HyFIRE) and laser shock facilities.

Scott has been at Johns Hopkins since 2004. He worked in the Department of Chemistry before joining HEMI in 2013. As senior administrative manager, Scott oversees the HEMI staff and ensures the HEMI operations run smoothly.

The Staff Excellence Awards provide the members of the Whiting School of Engineering an opportunity to recognize the hardworking and talented staff who advance WSE’s mission, who demonstrate superior leadership, and who motivate and inspire those around them.

View the full list of awardees.


HEMI Fellow Ryan Hurley Receives Mentor of the Year Award from the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program

Ryan Hurley, HEMI Fellow and assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, has received the annual Mentor of the Year award from the U.S. Army Educational Outreach Program (AEOP).

The award is presented to a mentor within one of the AEOP apprenticeship programs who goes beyond the call of duty to support students in their STEM educations and career pursuits. Hurley has been recognized for his dedication to challenging his students to “think and work like engineers. [During a remote apprenticeship, he] went above and beyond to overcome the challenges and make it a positive, transformative experience for his mentees. In addition to being dedicated to the growth and development of his mentees, he has sought to spread the word about AEOP and encourage other scientists and engineers to become mentors as well.” View the full award ceremony.

Hurley was selected from over 450 mentors from U.S. Army research laboratories, centers, and universities across the United States who hosted AEOP apprentices in 2020. He mentored a student who expanded his Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments (MEDE) ceramic materials research.  The student employed machine learning to investigate particle micromechanics in granular materials and develop a model to predict particle rearrangements.  Due to COVID-19, the apprenticeship was conducted remotely.

Hurley’s research group develops and uses novel experiments and numerical models to study the mechanical behavior and failure mechanisms of granular materials, rocks, concrete, and ceramics. His group is a frequent user of synchrotron X-ray facilities around the world, at which they seek to see and understand deformation mechanisms in materials at the smallest length and time scales.

The AEOP is run by the U.S. Army and aims to provide students and teachers with STEM programs to promote STEM subjects and nurture STEM talents from kindergarten through college. Learn more about AEOP and its programs.

Ryan Hurley AEOP award 2021

HEMI Hires Steven Ransom as Grants and Contracts Analyst

The Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute has hired Steven Ransom as a Grants and Contracts Analyst. Steven joins HEMI from his former role as a Client Relationship Associate at Schiff Wealth Advisors and is a 2017 graduate from Towson University majoring in Finance with a minor in Information Systems. Previously, he interned at AHPharma as a Grant Writer Intern and at the National Science Foundation as an intern in the Division of Human Resources.

Steven will oversee funds management, including proposing and submitting budgets, account oversight, and billing. He will manage a variety of grants and contracts and will work to ensure that the funding process runs smoothly from start to finish.

HEMI Director KT Ramesh Receives DYMAT’s John Rinehart Award

KT Ramesh, Alonzo G. Decker, Jr. Professor of Science and Engineering in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Johns Hopkins, and the director of the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute, has been selected to receive DYMAT’s John Rinehart Award.

Awarded every three years by the European Association for the Promotion of Research into the Dynamic Behavior of Materials and Its Applications (DYMAT), this award recognizes outstanding effort and creative work in the science and technology of dynamic processes in materials and related applications. Traditionally, special attention is given to the balance between fundamental science and technological implementation.

KT’s research focuses on extreme environments, the design of materials for extreme conditions, impact processes in planetary science, and impact biomechanics. In recent years his research group has developed a hypervelocity impact facility for defense and space applications, a high-fidelity computer model of the human head and brain to understand how head impacts can cause brain injury, laser shock experiments to study extreme environments, and the use of data science approaches in materials design.

He will officially accept this honor during the DYMAT 2021 International Conference, to be held next September in Madrid.

Please join us in congratulating KT on this impressive recognition.

2020 CMEDE Highlights Showcases Research and Collaboration Within the Program

We are pleased to release this compilation of annual highlights on behalf of the Center for Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments (CMEDE).

CMEDE is a multi-institution collaborative research center within HEMI that focuses on advancing the fundamental understanding of materials in high-stress and high-strain-rate regimes, with the goal of developing a materials-by-design capability for these extreme environments. The end goal is to help improve the design of protection materials for the U.S. Army.

This issue illustrates the unique aspects of our activities, recaps some of our significant events, and showcases a small sampling of the programs and people within each of our materials research groups (ceramics, composites, and metals). 2020 has been a tumultuous year, but we are excited to share these accomplishments with you; they have broad and deep impacts on our scientific and technological capabilities and allow us to developing a new workforce educated in the up-and-coming possibilities of materials-by-design. We are positive that the advances we are making in the science and the workforce will have great impact on the protection of our military personnel and vehicles.

We encourage you to take a peek and learn more about CMEDE here.

Sabine Stanley and Morgan Trexler Appointed to HEMI Executive Committee

Congratulations to Sabine Stanley and Morgan Trexler, who have been appointed as new members of the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute (HEMI) Executive Committee.

Stanley is a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in the Johns Hopkins Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Her research involves understanding planetary interior processes and evolution. She focuses on planetary magnetic fields, dynamo theory, interior structure models and other geophysical methods to learn about the deep interiors of planets. Her work includes projects on many solar system bodies (Mercury, Moon, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, asteroids and planetesimals) as well as extrasolar planets. She uses a combination of numerical simulations, theory and comparison to observations from various missions to explore her science questions.

Trexler is a Materials Engineer at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory. Her research interests include high rate impact mechanics, armor, biomechanics, and multifunctional and expeditionary materials. She received her PhD in Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. In 2014, she won the Outstanding Young Engineer award from the Maryland Academy of Sciences.

The HEMI Executive Committee exercises general responsibility over the activities within the Institute, considers major issues and makes recommendations to the Director. The Executive Committee establishes policies and procedures consistent with the goals of the HEMI mission. It meets monthly.

Learn more about the HEMI Executive committee here.

HEMI Partners with U.S. Army for Artificial Intelligence for Materials Research

The Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute (HEMI) at Johns Hopkins University has signed a new cooperative agreement with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Army Research Laboratory (ARL).

The agreement, titled “Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments Plus (MEDE+)” seeks to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to further materials research and development. HEMI and ARL will collaborate on four initial projects, all focused on artificial intelligence for materials (AI-M):

  1. Project 1: Using artificial intelligence to accelerate the iterative materials design cycle by high-throughput microstructural characterization and rapid processing
  2. Project 2: Acoustic signature and reconstruction of defect avalanches in metals
  3. Project 3: Real-time monitoring of laser-material interactions
  4. Project 4: Toward self-repairing devices: Data-directed design of active, hierarchical colloidal assembly and reconfiguration

K.T. Ramesh, Director of HEMI and professor in JHU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, and Dr. Sikhanda Satapathy, from the DEVCOM ARL, will lead the research activities.

Learn more about the program here.