Sung Hoon Kang receives Hanwha Non-Tenured Faculty Award

Sung Hoon Kang, HEMI Fellow and assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, has been selected as a recipient of a Hanwha Non-Tenured Faculty Award.

The awards, given by Hanwha Solutions and Hanwha Total Energy, are designed to construct overseas R&D network and to expand a range of research and development, promotes the sharing and cooperative research and development of technology through mutual exchange from the early stages of research.

Kang received an award from the advanced materials division of Hanwha Solutions for his research in additive manufacturing technology using various new materials. He received his award on June 8th via an online ceremony.

HEMI Fellow Muyinatu “Bisi” Bell Receives 2022 Catalyst Award

Muyinatu “Bisi” Bell, HEMI Fellow and John C. Malone Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Chemical Engineering, has been selected as one of 38 early-career faculty members to receive a 2022 Johns Hopkins Catalyst Award.

The Catalyst Award program offers winners the means and opportunities to pursue a wide range of projects, from disease treatments to environmental studies. Recipients of Catalyst Awards are selected based on their accomplishments to date, creativity and originality, and academic impact. Each awardee will receive a $75,000 grant to support their work over the next year, as well as the opportunity to participate in mentoring sessions and other events. Click here to view the other 2022 awardees.

The program is open to any full-time faculty member appointed to a tenure-track position at least three and no more than 10 years ago. Recipients are celebrated each fall. This is the seventh year of the program, which has now recognized a total of 244 high-potential faculty from all divisions of the institution.

HEMI Fellow Somnath Ghosh awarded ASCE’s Raymond D. Mindlin Medal

Somnath Ghosh, HEMI Fellow and Michael G. Callas Chair Professor in the Department of Civil and Systems Engineering, has been awarded the 2022 Raymond D. Mindlin Medal by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Given annually, this medal recognizes an individual’s outstanding research contributions to applied solid mechanics.

Somnath was honored for “outstanding novel contributions to the field of computational mechanics of materials through development of fundamental concepts in spatio-temporal multi-scale, multi-physics modeling of metals, composites and multi-functional materials, and bridging the mechanics and materials communities through strong interdisciplinary leadership.”

Somnath’s research focuses on computational engineering and sciences integrating computational mechanics, computational materials science, and integrated computational materials engineering, with an emphasis on multiscale multi-physics modeling, materials characterization, machine learning, and uncertainty quantification.

He has been invited to accept this award in person at ASCE’s annual Engineering Mechanics Institute Conference, to be held in Baltimore from May 31 through June 3.

Paulette Clancy elected a fellow of AIChE

Paulette Clancy, HEMI Fellow and professor and head of the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, has been elected a fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE).

This designation, based on nomination by peers, honors and recognizes AIChE members for their accomplishments and service.

Clancy, who came to Johns Hopkins in 2018 from Cornell University, leads one of the nation’s top groups studying atomic- and molecular-scale modeling of semiconductor materials. She was elected to serve on AIChE’s board of directors last fall.

A fierce advocate for increased representation of women in engineering and the physical sciences, she was the first woman director of Cornell’s School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering (2002-2010) and founding chair of Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) faculty in Cornell’s College of Engineering. Among her awards for that advocacy are the AIChE National Women’s Initiatives Mentoring Award (2011); the Alice Cook Award for services promoting women in science at Cornell (2005); and the Zellman Warhaft award for the promotion of diversity at the College of Engineering (2007).

Paulette will be formally recognized as a fellow at the 2022 annual meeting in Phoenix in November.

HEMI Fellow Muyinatu ‘Bisi’ Bell elected to the AIMBE College of Fellows

Muyinatu (Bisi) Bell, John C. Malone Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, with joint appointments in Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science, HEMI Fellow, and the director of the PULSE (Photoacoustic & Ultrasonic Systems Engineering) Lab, has been elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering’s College of Fellows.


Election to the AIMBE College of Fellows is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to medical and biomedical engineers. It honors those who have made outstanding contributions to engineering and medicine research, practice, or education. Bisi is being recognized “for pioneering contributions to development of ultrasonic and photoacoustic medical imaging systems, including coherence-based beamforming, photoacoustic-guided surgery, and deep learning applications.”

Her work links light, sound, and robotics to create and deploy next-generation medical imaging systems that produce clearer pictures, enabling more accurate diagnosis and reducing the risk of harm and death during surgery. She was the first to demonstrate the benefits of photoacoustic-guided surgery for neurosurgeries, gynecological surgeries, spinal fusion surgeries, liver surgeries, pancreatic surgeries, cardiac catheter-based interventions, and a multitude of teleoperated robotic surgeries. Her research breaks new ground in the fundamental understanding of technology designs, image quality requirements, and innovative light delivery systems that attach to surgical tools to transmit laser energy directly to the surgical site, generating clearer live views of a patient’s internal anatomy to help surgeons avoid injuring critical features.

Learn more about Professor Bell and her research within HEMI in this short video feature >>

HEMI Fellow Sarah Hörst receives 2022 President’s Frontier Award

In a surprise virtual presentation, JHU President Ron Daniels presented the award to Alexis Battle, an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, and Sarah Hörst, HEMI Fellow and an associate professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Both researchers will receive $250,000 to pursue new lines of research, expand their laboratories, or support their lab members.

“Let me take this moment to say how dazzled we were, Alexis and Sarah, by the ambitions and scope of your research and how highly your colleagues, mentors, and students regard each of you,” said Daniels in the virtual presentation. “Having a way to honor those qualities in our faculty was a reason why we created this amazing award eight years ago. … You both join a cadre of truly remarkable people from across all our divisions whose work truly stands apart.”

The President’s Frontier Award was originally launched with a commitment of $2.5 million from trustee Louis J. Forster, A&S ’82, SAIS ’83, and is now paired with a $1 million donation from alumnus David Smilow, A&S ’84. Winners have spanned the university’s divisions and included molecular biologist Andrew Holland (2021), mathematician Emily Riehl (2020), astrophysicist Brice Ménard (2019), nephrologist and epidemiologist Deidra Crews (2018), composer Michael Hersch (2017), molecular biologist Scott Bailey (2016), and stem cell research Sharon Gerecht (2015).

The award typically recognizes one winner and one finalist each year, but Battle and Hörst were both selected this year based on the strength of their applications and the demonstrated impact and continued potential of their work.

“The two of you embody in some sense the incredible breadth of research that goes on at JHU,” said Ed Schlesinger, dean of the Whiting School of Engineering. “From the very smallest genetic materials that define what life is all about to the planets, space, the cosmos, and the search for life beyond our own world—there is something particularly poetic about the juxtaposition of both of [your work].”

Hörst, a planetary scientist, studies the composition and characteristics of aerosols in the atmospheres of early Earth and other planets. Using laboratory experiments, modeling, and remote sensing and in situ measurements of atmospheric chemistry, Hörst and her lab work to understand how small molecules transition to become aerosols and the resulting physical and chemical properties of those particles.

Sarah Hörst

Image caption:Sarah Hörst

The work has implications for assessing the habitability of other planets and for the search for life beyond our solar system. Under the right conditions, adding energy to simple mixtures of common gases can produce much more complex molecules like amino acids, which form the building blocks of living organisms.

Essential to her work is her groundbreaking approach to laboratory science. Using a custom-built Planetary Haze Research lab—a one-of-its-kind experimental lab—Hörst and her group simulate the chemical reactions that contribute to the formation of aerosols in planetary atmospheres. With this approach, she can experiment with a vast range of temperatures (90-800 degrees Kelvin, or -297-980 degrees Fahrenheit) and can use different energy sources to initiate chemical reactions across a variety of atmospheric gases and conditions. Her lab is the first in the world to be dedicated to studying photochemical haze production in exoplanet environments, and she has published research on Saturn, Saturn’s moon Titan, and early Earth.

Hörst’s work is directly relevant to important space missions, including two upcoming NASA missions: Dragonfly, which will investigate prebiotic organic chemistry and habitability on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan; and DAVINCI+, which will probe the chemical composition of the atmosphere of Venus.

“Particularly impressive is her ingenuity and creativity in developing and leading a new scientific field essentially from scratch: extrasolar planet atmosphere laboratory studies,” wrote Sabine Stanley, a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, in a letter nominating Hörst for the award. “Her work has already had major impact on the global effort to observe and characterize exoplanet atmospheres.”

She received the 2020 LAD Early Career Award from the American Astronomical Society’s Laboratory Astrophysics Division and the prestigious 2020 James B. Macelwane Medal from the American Geophysical Union, widely considered the highest honor for early career scientists in the field of geological and planetary sciences. She received a Johns Hopkins Catalyst Award in 2017 and was a co-investigator on a Discovery Award led by Maya Gomes in 2020.

Hörst received two bachelor of science degrees—one in planetary science and one in literature—from the California Institute of Technology. She received her PhD in planetary sciences from the University of Arizona, Tucson. She joined Johns Hopkins in 2014 and currently mentors three graduate students, two postdoctoral research fellows, and an associate research scientist.

Chris Celenza, dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, gave Hörst particular praise for her emphasis on mentorship and collegiality.

“I often think that we are at our best in the arts and sciences when we’re reciprocally reinforcing conversations among faculty, postdocs, graduate students, and undergraduates,” Celenza said during the award presentation. “I know in your lab, you’ve cultivated that very type of engagement, so I want to thank you, deeply, for all you have done for this wonderful Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and for Johns Hopkins and for the Krieger School.”

Hörst’s dedication to her lab members was evident from the moment they “Zoom bombed” the meeting, joining in on the coordinated surprise. “When I saw the names popping up on the screen, all I could think was how much more great science the people who are already working with me are going to get to do,” Hörst said through tears. “And that means the absolute world to me.”

This article is excerpted from The Hub. The original piece was published on January 26, 2022.

HEMI researchers receive NSF funding to design sustainable plastics

Recycling plastic products is a challenge. Not only are a limited number of types of plastic recyclable, but because the recycling process also breaks down polymer chains and degrades the materials’ quality, many can only be recycled a few times. As a result, recycled plastics tend to be suitable for use only in low-value products such as single-use grocery bags.

A new type of plastic could change that. Using a four-year, $1.8 million grant from the National Science Foundation, a team led by a Whiting School engineer Thao Vicky Nguyen, HEMI Fellow and a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, is developing an approach that promises to turn difficult-to-recycle plastics into a tougher material suitable for use in high-performance and high-value products. The grant is part of the National Science Foundation’s Designing Materials to Revolutionize and Engineer our Future program.

“Our goal is to yield a plastic material that is stronger and tougher than conventional recycled plastics and that can have the same consistent properties as traditional plastics,” said Nguyen. “We are hopeful that creating sustainable plastics will reduce the environmental impact of plastics production.”

The team’s material will be produced by melting and blending two common but difficult-to-recycle plastic polymers: polyethylene and isotactic polypropylene. The researchers are developing a computational, data-driven methodology called Materials Architected by Adaptive Processing, or MAAP, to design the microstructure of the blend and control its processing, ensuring the production of high-valued plastics with consistent strength and toughness properties.

The researchers note that their approach considers the variability of recycled plastic materials. For example, if plastic pellets from a recycling plant have significant impurities, the resulting polymer melt will be thinner. Their method should be able to adjust the temperature and pressure conditions of the processing line to produce a consistent blend.

Such an innovation will give plastics a second life; the recycled plastic created by MAAP will be exceptionally durable, meaning the material can be used in everything from appliances and construction products to personal protective equipment like body armor, adds Nguyen.

The team hopes MAAP will allow other researchers to turn recycled materials into plastic polymer blends with superior properties.

“One of the broader goals for the project is to develop a database to make materials data more accessible for everyone,” said Nguyen.

Nguyen, who leads the Mechanics of Soft Adaptive Materials Lab, is the team’s principal investigator. Co-principal investigators are Gretar Trygvasson, a professor and head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering; and David Elbert, an associate research scientist in the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute (HEMI).

The article originally appeared on the Hub >>

Getty Images

HEMI Fellow Sarah Hörst Featured in New York Times for Exoplanetary Research

Sarah Hörst, HEMI Fellow and associate professor in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, was recently featured in a New York Times article titled, “You Don’t Need a Spaceship to Grow ‘Weird Little’ Martian Radishes”.

The piece showcases Hörst’s research on Saturn’s moon, Titan. It also speaks to the work done in her lab regarding hypothetical exoplanets, which is helping to figuring out which potential exoplanets produce smog. This information can help scientists point telescopes at orbs they can actually observe.

Sarah Hörst of Johns Hopkins University with her lab’s planetary atmospheric simulation chamber.Credit…Justin Tsucalas

In 2018, Hörst mentored a student in the HEMI/MICA Extreme Arts Summer Project who used their art to help explain the intricacies of Titan’s atmosphere. Since that time, Hörst has grown her role and  is currently leading the program’s development.

Sarah Hörst (JHU) and Amy Wetsch (MICA) at the 2018 opening of Wetsch’s show “Lateral Distance.” The show featured pieces meant to artistically visualize and simulate Titan’s atmosphere. (image: Will Kirk, Homewood Photography)

Graduate students advised by HEMI Fellows win poster awards at 2021 SES Conference

Graduate students in the Department of Mechanical Engineering earned poster awards at the 2021 Society of Engineering Science (SES) Annual Conference.  Each student is advised by a HEMI Fellow.

The virtual event was spread over five days in October and each day focused on a theme, which included a fishbowl event, presentation, and poster session.

    • Bibekananda Datta, advised by Vicky Nguyen, won a Best Poster award in the Soft Matter category for his work, “A Swelling and Deswelling Kinetics Driven Thermo-responsive Crawler.”
    • Adyota Gupta, co-advised by Ryan Hurley and KT Ramesh, won the Audience Vote award in the Interactions Matter category for his work, “The Effect of Force-Chain Buckling and Fabric on Bulk Stiffness and Stress Response in Granular Media.”
    • Brett Kuwik, advised by Ryan Hurley, won a Best Poster award in the Interactions Matter category for his work, “Quantification of Breakage During the Compaction of Granular Materials.”
    • Zheliang Wang, advised by Vicky Nguyen, won a Best Poster award in the Frontiers Matter category for his work, “In-situ Measurement of Residue Stresses in Material Extrusion Additive Manufacturing.”

From top left: Bibekananda Datta, Adyota Gupta, Zheliang Wang, Brett Kuwik.

This post originally appeared as a news item on the Department of Mechanical Engineering website.