Learn more about HT-MAX

HT-MAX logo on green background

In late 2023, the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute (HEMI) established a new center focused on using high-throughput and data-driven artificial intelligence and machine learning-based tools to accelerate materials discovery, with an emphasis on hard and brittle materials. This new center, the Center on High-throughput Materials Discovery for Extremes (HT-MAX), has found a new home online at hemi.jhu.edu/ht-max/.

HT-MAX is a four-year, $9.2 million project funded by the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Army Research Laboratory (ARL) and was initiated on September 15, 2023.

HT-MAX is led by Lori Graham-Brady, director of HEMI’s Center on Artificial Intelligence for Materials in Extreme Environments (CAIMEE) and professor of civil and systems engineering, and Michael Shields, associate professor of civil and systems engineering. Other Hopkins faculty members affiliated with HT-MAX include Todd Hufnagel and K.T. Ramesh.

HT-MAX will leverage the cutting-edge resources available in the AI for Materials Design (AIMD) laboratory in the Stieff Silver Building to address four research areas:

1.    High-throughput synthesis and processing
2.    High-throughput characterization
3.    Machine learning-augmented physics-based modeling
4.    Data-driven materials design

The center includes experts from seven universities and ARL, including Carnegie Mellon University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, Purdue University, University of California Santa Barbara, and University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Johns Hopkins University and DEVCOM CBC enter into Education Partnership Agreement

The Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute works with many partners in government, private industry, and higher education. While the institute has had significant ties to the U.S. armed forces through the now-complete CMEDE program, HEMI researchers and staff are continuing to foster these relationships in other centers and programs, striving to bring the benefits of these collaborations to the Johns Hopkins University as a whole.

Members of the Materials Science in Extreme Environments University Research Alliance (MSEE URA) have worked closely with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Chemical Biological Center (DEVCOM CBC) throughout the alliance’s three-year history. Many Johns Hopkins students and MSEE participants have transitioned to positions in federal labs, and researchers like Amee Polk, a DEVCOM CBC employee, have graduated from the university’s Doctor of Engineering program.

In an effort to formalize the collaborative relationships that already exist between Johns Hopkins and DEVCOM CBC, both institutions have entered into an Education Partnership Agreement (EPA). This agreement recognizes the importance of education, research, and translational activities and will expand upon collaborative opportunities between both parties.

A signing ceremony was held on Monday, Sept. 11 to commemorate this agreement. The ceremony was attended by DEVCOM CBC employees and leadership, as well as faculty, students, and staff from Johns Hopkins.

Michael Bailey, the director of DEVCOM CBC, and Ed Schlesinger, Benjamin T. Rome Dean of the Whiting School of Engineering, were among those in attendance. The pair gave remarks on the nature and history of collaboration between DEVCOM CBC and the university before signing the Education Partnership Agreement.

Other speakers included Amee Polk and Tim Weihs, professor of materials science and engineering and director of MSEE. Andrew Proulx, MSEE’s program manager, facilitated the creation of this agreement.

“DEVCOM CBC has been a valuable partner for MSEE and HEMI. JHU’s proximity to CBC and the important, related research they conduct makes it an easy decision to collaborate” said Proulx. “We’ve previously had the opportunity to work with people from DEVCOM CBC on basic research projects, short courses, seminars, and more. This agreement encourages further collaboration.”


Rebecca Schulman named 2023 Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellow

headshot of Rebecca Schulman

Rebecca Schulman, an associate professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, has been named one of 10 2023 Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellows by the U.S. Department of Defense. The five-year, $3 million individual award aims to facilitate the progression of fundamental research, encourage collaboration between researchers and national defense experts, and enable investigators to pursue breakthrough discoveries in their fields.

Schulman, who holds secondary appointments in chemistry and computer science, is a HEMI fellow exploring the interfaces of materials science, biochemistry, circuit design, soft matter physics, and cell-free synthetic biology. Her project, “Self-organizing Biomaterials Using Biomolecular Networks,” will investigate how engineers can build complex machines and materials by applying similar principles to those used in biological development.

“Genes build living things by hierarchically organizing molecules, organelles, cells, tissues, and organs,” said Schulman. “Our project will investigate whether engineers might adopt similar ideas.”

Schulman is looking forward to her fellowship term and expressed gratitude for the people who have assisted her in her efforts so far. Preliminary data and concepts for this fellowship were obtained through an AI for materials seed project funded through the Center for Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments.

“I am excited about the opportunity to deeply explore new ideas and take risks,” said Schulman.

Jaafar El-Awady to assume HEMI interim director role

Jaafar El-Awady will take on the role of interim director of the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute as of July 1. El-Awady, a professor in the departments of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering, will lead the institute during the international search for HEMI’s permanent director.

El-Awady is the associate director of the Center on Artificial Intelligence for Materials in Extreme Environments (CAIMEE) and the Center for Integrated Structure-Materials Modeling and Simulations (CISMMS). In addition to these roles, he is the founder and director of the Johns Hopkins Computational and Experimental Materials Engineering Laboratory.

El-Awady’s research aims to further the fundamental understanding of the underlying deformation mechanisms in materials. He has received many awards throughout his career, including the National Science Foundation’s Early CAREER Award, a Johns Hopkins Catalyst Award, and the Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award.

As interim director, El-Awady will be tasked with enabling the continuation of HEMI’s innovative research, extensive collaborative efforts, and reputation as a destination for the study of materials in extreme environments.

El-Awady has been involved with the institute since 2012. “HEMI has definitely had a strong impact on my career,” said El-Awady, reflecting on his early days as a junior assistant professor. “HEMI was a great forum for discussing and establishing new collaborations with an interdisciplinary, world-class group of faculty and scientists focused on materials in extreme environments.”

Of his new role as interim director, El-Awady said, “It is an honor to serve in this new role during this transition period of HEMI. I look forward to working with the Hopkins materials community in continuing HEMI’s mission in conducting groundbreaking research for the study and design of materials in extreme environments.”

HEMI celebrates 11 years

The Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute (HEMI) celebrated its 11th birthday at its weekly tea event on Tuesday, April 25. Faculty, staff, post-doctoral fellows, and students gathered outside HEMI’s offices in Malone Hall to commemorate the milestone with cupcakes and festive décor in addition to the usual offerings of tea and enriching conversation.

Longtime members of HEMI–some of whom have been with the institute since its inception–were in attendance, including K.T. Ramesh, the Alonzo G. Decker, Jr. Professor of Science and Engineering and HEMI director, and Lori Graham-Brady, a professor in the Department of Civil and Systems Engineering and HEMI associate director. Ramesh gave brief remarks, thanking everyone for coming and being a part of HEMI.

Established on April 16, 2012, HEMI has made a significant impact on the world through its research and has a global reputation as a formidable driver of cutting-edge research into materials in extreme environments. HEMI’s research has expanded what is known about how materials act under extreme conditions. The institute has been awarded two major centers by the Department of Defense and has managed more than 40 subawards to partner universities and research organizations in 20 states and four foreign countries.

HEMI is actively involved in the Baltimore community through internships with Morgan State University, the Maryland Institute College of Art, and Maryland high schools. As one of Whiting School of Engineering’s (WSE) leading annual recipients of sponsored research, HEMI researchers work in areas that have a powerful impact, from finding ways to better protect our armed forces and safeguarding the human body during collisions to working to mitigate and control risks arising from weapons of mass destruction.

The sense of collaboration and congeniality at HEMI’s event highlighted the institute’s dedication to teamwork which, alongside their focus on research, plays a massive role in their success.

“What sets HEMI apart is our amazing staff and culture. We started with a team of four. Today there are 15 staff members, and we have plans to grow. We’re a bigger team than we were ten years ago, but that familial, team-based approach and culture is still there. It drives us to not only do our best, but to do what’s best for the staff as a whole,” said Scott McGhee, HEMI senior administrative manager.


HEMI hosts major program review for the U.S. Army Research Laboratory

The Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute (HEMI) recently hosted the High-Throughput Materials Discovery for Extreme Conditions (HTMDEC) program review on the Homewood campus.

The HTMDEC program aims to combine automation and machine learning techniques with material manufacturing and characterization to withstand and perform under extreme conditions. Sponsored by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory (ARL), the program will develop the necessary methodologies, models, algorithms, synthesis and processing techniques, as well as the necessary characterization and testing, to dramatically accelerate the discovery of novel materials using data-driven approaches.

The review was co-chaired by Chris Haines, Senior Metallurgist at ARL and Debjoy Mallick, Research Scientist at ARL. Over 100 individuals attended the review, including principal investigators from 12 universities, two companies, and a significant number of ARL researchers. The review consisted of formal presentations by the 11 seedling research projects and a poster session. HEMI fellows, Lori Graham-Brady, Dave Elbert, Todd Hufnagel, KT Ramesh, and Michael Shields are investigators in 4 of the 11 seedlings.

Because of its professional staff and experience in successfully planning and executing high-profile events, ARL requested that HEMI host this event. The hosting of this event exemplifies HEMI and ARL’s strong collaborative partnership.

HEMI launches the Center on Artificial Intelligence for Materials in Extreme Environments

The Johns Hopkins University announces the establishment of the Center on Artificial Intelligence for Materials in Extreme Environments (CAIMEE), a new center within the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute dedicated to the development of new materials and structures for use in extreme environments through the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Materials in extreme environments present numerous research challenges that CAIMEE aims to solve by leveraging robotics, novel experimentation, accelerated computational models, and data-driven design iterations. Directed by Lori Graham-Brady, associate director of HEMI and professor in the Department of Civil and Systems Engineering, CAIMEE brings together 12 PIs and collaborators from several institutions to overcome these barriers. Jaafar El-Awady, a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, will serve as CAIMEE’s co-director.

The center has a mission of enabling the development of materials with properties tailored for sustainable performance in extreme environments like those encountered by the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. According to the announcement from Dean Ed Schlesinger, the new tools and technologies to be employed by CAIMEE researchers will revolutionize the way materials design decisions are made and will provide comprehensive data and information for sustainable materials development in extreme environments.

This new center is a significant development in the field of research and will have a direct impact on the development of essential materials for critical applications. It is expected that CAIMEE’s work will significantly contribute to the growth of innovations and discoveries that will help governments and industries tackle critical problems.

Johns Hopkins launches international search for new Director of the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute

Dean Schlesinger and the HEMI Executive Committee have launched an international search for the new Director of the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute.

Building on HEMI’s first decade of groundbreaking work in the analysis of materials in extreme environments that cover space, defense, and climate, the new Director will have the opportunity to further establish the Institute as the leading site for innovative work in the field of extreme materials and structures, advancing our collaborations across the Whiting School, the Krieger School of Arts & Sciences, and the Applied Physics Lab, and beyond Hopkins with external partners and sponsors.

Dean Schlesinger and the HEMI Advisory Committee have formed a search committee, chaired by Professor Tim Weihs, and have engaged Opus Partners as external advisors to the search. The position announcement is available here and on the websites of a range of professional and scholarly associations. To nominate potential internal or external candidates or to express interest in being considered as a candidate, contact Tim Weihs in his capacity as search committee chair or contact our consultants at Opus via [email protected].

Sabine Stanley named next vice provost for graduate and professional education

HEMI Fellow Sabine Stanley, a planetary physicist whose research aims to answer fundamental questions about the nature and interior structure of planets in our solar system and beyond, has been named vice provost of graduate and professional education at Johns Hopkins University.

“We are fortunate to be able to call on someone with Sabine’s leadership and administrative experience to build on the great foundation that Nancy has created,” said Provost Sunil Kumar.

Sabine is passionate about graduate and postdoctoral training and has extensive experience in teaching and mentoring students.

Stanley joined the university in 2017 as a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor in the Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences at JHU’s Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and in the Space Exploration Sector of the Applied Physics Lab. She is a renowned physicist whose work focuses on planetary magnetic fields, dynamo theory, and planetary interiors and evolution.

Stanley received a BSc degree in physics and astronomy from the University of Toronto and MA and PhD degrees in geophysics from Harvard. She will assume her provost’s office role beginning May 1.

“I’m excited to take on this role and work with the provost’s office and all the schools to support our graduate student and postdoctoral training missions,” said Stanley.

Portions of this article was excerpted from The Hub. You can view the full story here.