Team of HEMI Fellows Awarded Space@Hopkins Seed Grant

Congratulations to HEMI Fellows James Guest (Dept. of Civil Engineering) and Tim Weihs (Dept. of Materials Science & Engineering) on receiving a Space@Hopkins seed grant for their project “3D-Woven CNT Composites: Lightweight, High Strength Materials for Space.”

The goal of this project is to demonstrate 3D weaving as a promising method of manufacturing ultra-strong carbon nanotube (CNT)-yarn based composites. Thanks to its remarkable mechanical, thermal, and electrical properties, CNT holds great potential as the backbone of ultra-high strength lightweight materials, which are materials planned to be developed for the purpose of transporting humans to Mars and beyond. Guest and Weihs aim to utilize CNT yarns as well as carbon fiber (CF) provided by collaborators at NASA Langley Research Center for their project, and show the efficiency and effectiveness of weaving the two to create hybrid CNT/CF based composites using a 3D weaving loom.

Space@Hopkins connects the array of Johns Hopkins University divisions, departments, and collaborative institutions in their common pursuit of civilian space research. Its seed funding program, which began in 2016, awards grants of up to $25,000 that enable Hopkins researchers to test new ideas and provide an initial boost for them to obtain external funding for space-related projects. All Space@Hopkins seed grants provide undergraduate research opportunities as a program requirement.

This year, Space@Hopkins selected five teams to receive seed grants to support their work. One of these teams is made up of Prof. Guest and Prof. Weihs, who together represent the Whiting School of Engineering. You can find the full list of awardees and their projects here.

Congrats again, Profs. Guest and Weihs!

HEMI Fellow SJ Claire Hur to Expand Cancer Research Using Grant from Susan G. Komen Foundation

Most of the approximately 42,000 Americans who die from breast cancer each year perish because the disease has become metastatic, or has spread from its original site to the patient’s brain, bones, liver, or lungs.

Using a $450,000 Career Catalyst Research Grant from the Susan G. Komen Foundation, SJ Claire Hur is developing a new system to personalize treatment plans for metastatic breast cancer patients.

The Clare Booth Luce Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Hur has previously invented a technique that can purify, or separate, live cancer cells from blood. This method allows for a deep analysis of cancer biomarkers from blood samples.

“Circulating tumor cells are the precursor to metastatic cancer, yet only a small fraction of them successfully contribute to the spread of the disease beyond the original tumor site. So, simply counting the number of circulating tumor cells found in the blood can’t accurately predict the clinical outcome,” said Hur. “If we have an efficient way to culture collected circulating tumor cells in the lab, researchers can perform numerous biological experiments and functional tests directly on patient-derived tumor cells. This will help identify the most effective therapeutic option for the patients through less-invasive, routine blood draws.”

Now with funding from the CCR grant, Hur will expand on her work to gain insights on cancer progression using non-invasive blood samples. She plans to engineer a new system that can systematically create stable, culturable cell lines from circulating tumor cells collected from a patient’s blood. These cell lines can then be used to create personalized tumor models, giving oncologists important information about individual patients that they can use when creating treatment plans. These models may even eliminate the need for biopsies or surgeries in some cancer patients.

Hur said that knowing her work could give hope to patients living with metastatic breast cancer is what drives her as an engineer.

“If successful, this research has the potential to positively impact patient outcomes by providing a simple means of producing sources of patient-derived tumor cells for various functional studies that will accurately and timely assess the disease state of each patient, leading to better therapeutic decision making.”

This article originally appeared on the JHU Department of Mechanical Engineering website >>

HEMI Fellow Michael Falk Elected APS Fellow

Congratulations to HEMI Fellow Michael Falk on being named a Fellow of the American Physical Society (APS)!

Prof. Falk is not only the vice dean for undergraduate education at the Whiting School of Engineering, but also a professor in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering with a secondary appointment in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. His research focuses on computational materials science, structural materials, and optoelectronic and magnetic materials.

Election as an APS Fellow is a major recognition of professional accomplishment from the leading organization of physicists. APS cited Prof. Falk for “fundamental advances in our understanding of the mechanical response of amorphous solids through the use of innovative computational methods and theories that reveal the connection between local rearrangements and large scale response.”

APS is a nonprofit membership organization working to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy, and international activities. The organization represents over 55,000 members, including physicists in academia, national laboratories, and industry in the United States and throughout the world.

Congratulations again, Prof. Falk!

Photo Copyright 2010 by Marty Katz.

HEMI Grad Student Lichen Fang to Receive Student Travel Award from ASME

Congratulations to HEMI graduate student Lichen Fang on receiving the 2019 Haythornthwaite Foundation Student Travel Award from the Applied Mechanics Division of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)!

Fang is a PhD student in Professor Sung Hoon Kang’s group within the Department of Mechanical Engineering. His research interests focus on utilizing mechanics and materials in order to better understand the world of architected functional materials.

The 2019 Haythornthwaite Foundation Student Travel Award grants Fang the opportunity to attend the 2019 ASME IMECE conference in Salt Lake City, Utah this November and present in Track 11 — Mechanics of Solids, Structures, and Fluids. The award will reimburse his IMECE 2019 travel expenses up to $1000 and will be announced during the Applied Mechanics Division Banquet.

Congratulations again, Lichen!

Prof. Mo-Rigen He from the Department of Mechanical Engineering Joins HEMI

Please join us in welcoming our newest HEMI Fellow, Professor Mo-Rigen He! Prof. He is an assistant research professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. He studies the microstructure, strength, and plasticity of nanotwinned nickel alloys, and the localized deformation and amorphization in boron carbide ceramics.

Prof. He earned his BS and his PhD from China’s Tsinghua University in 2006 and 2011, respectively. Previously, he was a postdoctoral researcher in both the Department of Materials Science & Engineering at University of Pennsylvania and the Department of Engineering Physics at University of Wisconsin-Madison. He was also an assistant scientist in the same department at University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Welcome to HEMI, Prof. He!

HEMI Research Shows New Method of Obtaining Mechanical Properties of Cells in 3D Microenvironment

A paper recently published in Biophysical Journal showcases how HEMI researchers have created a new method to probe the mechanical properties of cells in 3D polymer scaffolds at various strain rates. This new method will be helpful, as some cell types (such as astrocytes in the brain) can exhibit very different morphologies and phenotypes when grown in 2D instead of 3D.

Dr. Amy Dagro worked with HEMI Fellows Prof. Sung Hoon Kang and Prof. KT Ramesh to apply a technique called optical trapping to perform indentation to individual brain cells.  Most previous methods for probing the mechanical properties of cells are limited to either: A) testing cells grown on flat surfaces (2D) or B) measuring the properties of intracellular contents of cells in 3D (i.e. only measuring the inside of the cell).  Her experimental setup is unique in that users will be able to measure the overall mechanical properties of cellular compartments while they exist in a more favorable 3D environment.

To view the article in full, visit

Profs. Thomas Gernay and Daniel Viete Selected as 2019 HEMI Seed Grant Awardees

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2019 HEMI Seed Grants, Prof. Thomas Gernay and Prof. Daniel Viete!

Gernay is an assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering. His research interests include structural fire engineering, performance-based structural design, computational mechanics, and community resilience assessment. He received the grant for his project, “Modeling Ductile Fracture in Metals under Extreme Temperatures with Application to Structural Fire Computations.”

Viete is an assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, with research interests in metamorphic petrology, tectonics, structural geology, and rock mechanics. The seed grant will fund his project, “Planetary-scale fracture propagation.”

The HEMI Seed Grants are given each year to fund research in fundamental science associated with materials and structures under extreme conditions. All faculty and researchers at the Johns Hopkins University, as well as Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) Staff, who can serve as Principal and Co-Investigators are eligible to apply. Learn more about the program here

Welcome 2019 HEMI/MICA Extreme Arts Program Summer Interns

We are pleased to welcome Laila Milevski (Illustration Practice) and Mae Rowland (Interdisciplinary Sculpture) as the 2019 HEMI/MICA Extreme Arts Program summer internship participants.

Laila is working with Professor Thomas Gernay (Dept. of Civil Engineering) and observing his lab’s research on structural fire safety. Mae is working with Professor Susanna Thon (Dept. of Electrical and Computer Engineering) on the nature of physics and light in the scope of computational modeling.

EAP is a joint effort between HEMI and the Maryland Institute College of Art through which MICA students may work with a HEMI faculty of their choice over the course of a summer. The goal of this internship is to create visual representations of the HEMI organization, structure, current research, and relationships.

It’s a pleasure to have these women working with us this summer, and we’re excited to see their final projects!

Former HEMI Grad Student Debjoy Mallick Receives APS Award

Congratulations to Dr. Debjoy Mallick, a former HEMI graduate student, on receiving the Best Early Career Oral Presentation Award of the American Physics Society’s Topical Group on Shock Compression of Condensed Matter (SHOCK19) held in June. Mallick received this award for his presentation “On the Role of Texture and Precipitate Orientation in Spall Failure of a Rolled Magnesium Alloy.” His presentation discussed novel measurements of the failure of a model binary magnesium alloy (Mg-9Al wt %) using a laser-driven shock compression apparatus developed at the Johns Hopkins University under the ARL MEDE Collaborative Research Alliance (MEDE CRA).

The APS Shock Compression of Condensed Matter conference focuses on fundamental science and applications of matter at extreme conditions, including shock-induced materials behavior, plasticity, phase transitions, and chemical reactions, among other topics. In addition to the scientific program, the conference offers social events, networking, career development opportunities, an exhibit hall, and more. This year was the 21st Biennial Meeting, and took place in Portland, Oregon from June 16 to June 21.

Current HEMI graduate students Jason Parker and Gary Simpson also received travel awards to attend this conference.