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.

James McCauley delivers John F. McMahon Memorial lecture

HEMI adjunct research scientist, James W. McCauley, recently delivered the John F. McMahon Memorial Lecture at Alfred University. This memorial lecture and award is given each year to an outstanding ceramic engineer in memory of the late John F. McMahon, an alumnus, professor, and dean of the Inamori School of Engineering. 
McCauley’s many accomplishments include being a former dean and professor of ceramic engineering at Alfred University’s New York State College of Ceramics, a senior research scientist at the United States Army Research Laboratory (ARL), and a past president of the American Ceramic Society. He has over 140 papers published, 13 books edited or co-edited, and five patents. His works have been cited over 5,000 times. 
In his lecture, McCauley presented research from HEMI’s Center for Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments (CMEDE). CMEDE brings together academia, industry, and ARL to address the fundamental science to improve protection materials for military armor applications. McCauley’s knowledge and experience have aided the center’s success.  

HEMI Fellows awarded best papers at MS&T conference

Lori Graham-Brady, HEMI associate director and professor in the Department of Civil and Systems Engineering and KT Ramesh, the Alonzo G. Decker Professor of Science and Engineering and director of HEMI, were awarded best papers by the Journal of the American Ceramic Society. On October 11, 2022, their winning papers were presented at a special awards symposium at the Materials Science and Technology Technical Meeting and Exhibition in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.   

Graham-Brady’s paper is titled, “Fragmentation and Granular Transition of Ceramics for High Rate Loading,” and included co-authors Amartya Bhattacharjee and Ryan Hurley of Johns Hopkins University. 

“Models for the Behavior of Boron Carbide in Extreme Dynamic Environments,” is the title of K.T. Ramesh’s winning paper. Co-authors included: Lori Graham-Brady, Ryan Hurley, Mark Robbins, Amartya Bhattacharjee, Qinglei Zeng, Weixin Li, and Nilanjan Mitra from Johns Hopkins University; William Goddard, California Institute of Technology; Andrew Tonge, DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory; Joel Clemmer, Sandia National Laboratories; and Qi An, University of Nevada, Reno. 

Both papers were the result of research conducted in the Center for Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments(CMEDE), a center within the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute. Funded by the DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory, CMEDE research has developed a materials-by-design process for protection materials which have military armor applications.    

HEMI leadership participates in CNR delegation visit

 Members of a delegation representing Italy’s National Research Council recently visited the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute (HEMI) as part of a visit to Johns Hopkins hosted by Larry Nagahara, vice dean for research and translation in the Whiting School of Engineering (WSE). CNR operates under the auspices of the Italian Research Ministry and is that country’s largest public research institution focused on performing multidisciplinary activities. 

During the visit to HEMI, Lori Graham-Brady, HEMI associate director and professor in the Department  of Civil and Systems Engineering, presented the accomplishments of the Center for Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments (CMEDE), a recently completed 10-year program focused on improving protection materials for military armor applications. CNR delegates were particularly interested in ceramic materials research and how CMEDE managed the large, 25-member consortium.  

Ramesh provided a tour of HEMI’s Hypervelocity Facility for Impact Research Experiments (HyFIRE), spotlighting the facility’s a two-stage light gas gun that can launch impactors at velocities up to 7 km/s (Mach 20) and has advanced diagnostic equipment which can capture high speed imagery. 

Italy’s CNR Delegation in front of Mason Hall.

CMEDE Completes 10-year program

Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments (CMEDE), part of the Hopkins Extreme Materials Institute (HEMI), recently completed its 10-year program. Over the past decade, CMEDE was responsible for critically important advances in the development of improved protection materials and design codes/tools for armor applications and served as a model of leadership in collaborative research between academia, industry, and government. It was a model collaborative research alliance for the U.S. Army and an exemplar of a team approach to science and discovery for the U.S. Department of Defense. 

CMEDE launched in 2012 through an $85.5 million grant from the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and operated a productive and far-reaching research program that encompassed 25 international universities and research partners, all focused on integrated experimental, computational, and synthesis/processing research activities.  

In all of its activities, central to CMEDE has been its commitment to making an impact. One of the unique aspects of CMEDE is their material-by-design process, which involves a canonical model and mechanism-based strategy for each of the materials classes they focused on: Ceramics (boron carbide), Composites (S-2 glass/epoxy), and Metals (magnesium). The canonical model allows a large group of researchers to ensure that efforts are relevant in terms of both science and application, and the mechanism-based strategy enables the establishment of validated models and codes, which can then be integrated into Department of Defense and Department of Energy codes.  

The CMEDE also made an impact on advancing knowledge and sharing their findings, both through events and publications. Over the course of its existence, CMEDE researchers published approximately 500 journal articles, which garnered more than 8,000 citations. And CMEDE also has made a significant impact by helping prepare the next generation of engineers and scientists. The center supported 113 PhD students and 66 postdoctoral fellows and provided internships to 213 undergraduates, including 62 students from HBCUs and MSIs. Within Johns Hopkins Engineering, CMEDE served as a model for the launch of new research directions and new centers within HEMI, such as Materials Science for Extreme Environments (MSEE). 


Mach Conference celebrates 10th year

The 2022 Mach Conference, held virtually in April, brought together representatives from academia, government and industry to share their work in the field of materials, with an emphasis on advancing the fundamental science and engineering of materials and structures in extreme environments.. The conference’s plenary speakers included Prof. Wei Chen (Northwestern University), Prof. Reuben Kraft (Penn State University), and Prof. Tao Sun (University of Virginia).

Conference-goers attended lectures, presented on research, and socialized with their peers in the discipline. Attendees also participated in the Student/Postdoc poster competition. Winners in each category are listed below.

Judge’s Award: 

High-throughput methods using laser-driven micro-flyers for interrogating spall failure, Presenter: Christopher DiMarco, Johns Hopkins University 

High pressure induced precipitation in Al7075 alloy, Presenter: Abhinav Parakh, Stanford University

People’s Choice Award:

Interaction-Based Damage Model for Heterogeneous Brittle Solids under Uniform High-Rate Loading, Presenter: Sakshi Braroo, Johns Hopkins University

The Mach Conference is held in April each year. For more information, visit

MEDE CRA Completes 10th Annual Fall Meeting

The Materials in Extreme Dynamic Environments Collaborative Research Alliance (MEDE CRA) conducted its tenth and final Fall Meeting on November 17th, 2021. As the lead research organization of the CRA, Johns Hopkins University (JHU) hosts the event. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, this event was held using a virtual format.

The Fall Meeting brings the entire MEDE CRA together for a program overview and technical discussions in preparation for the January 2022 capstone event. This year’s Fall Meeting was attended by 117 individuals including special guests from the DEVCOM Army Research Laboratory (ARL), DEVCOM Soldier Center, United Kingdom’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Command,  and the National Ground Intelligence Center. Professor Lori Graham-Brady (JHU) and Dr. Sikhanda Satapathy (ARL) led the meeting, which highlighted the research accomplishments for new metallic, ceramic, and composite protection materials, as well as new computational design codes and tools for armor applications. Dr. Scott Schoenfeld, ARL’s Senior Research Scientist for Terminal Ballistics provided keynote remarks. The meeting also featured a virtual poster session with 41 presenters from across the MEDE CRA.

The MEDE CRA is an integral part of the ARL’s Enterprise for Multiscale Research of Materials. The objective of the MEDE CRA is to develop the capability to design, optimize, and fabricate material systems exhibiting revolutionary performance in extreme dynamic environments. The approach is to realize a mechanism-based, “materials-by-design” capability that focuses on advancing the fundamental understanding of materials in relevant high-strain-rate and high-stress regimes. Model materials in the areas of metals, ceramics, and composites are being investigated to improve protection for soldiers and vehicles.

HEMI Collaborations Showcased Through Five Summer Student Opportunities

Despite restrictions due to COVID-19, summer 2021 was an exciting time for HEMI, with five different internship and apprenticeship programs highlighting a diverse array of research opportunities.

The High School Apprenticeship Program (formerly known as REAP), sponsored by the Army Educational Outreach Program, sought out high school students from groups historically underrepresented in STEM fields. Working with a mentor, these students pursued research into topics ranging from breaking bonds in crystal quartz, to the development of 3D models simulating surface growth.

The Undergraduate Apprenticeship Program (formerly known as URAP), provided undergraduate researchers with the resources to develop and pursue individual research projects. Sponsored by the Army Educational Outreach Program and CMEDE, this program provided valuable Army research, as well as experience that will prepare these students for careers in science and engineering.

Students participating in the HEMI/MICA Extreme Arts Summer Project/Internship had the opportunity to artistically engage with HEMI research and projects. They translated scientific research into expressive, thought-provoking art, as well as to research and develop new materials.

Students in the Morgan State Extreme Science Internship (ESI) participate in both internal and external internships associated with the CMEDE. ESI opportunities are STEM-focused with a particular emphasis on providing research opportunities related to MEDE. Internal ESI are hosted by MSU faculty on the campus of Morgan State University. External ESI are conducted at one of the CMEDE university and research institutions located across the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany.

Finally, with the addition of the Materials Science in Extreme Environments University Research Alliance (MSEE URA) to HEMI, the Undergraduate Research Award program was offered this summer for the first time. In this program, students work under the mentorship of an MSEE URA principal investigator within the technical areas of chemical and biological agent defeat, and nuclear blast.

If you would like to read more about our summer programs and the research completed by this year’s participants, click here.

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