MechSE Professor and Andersen Faculty Scholar Amy Wagoner Johnson presented the plenary lecture at the Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering, and Biotransport Conference (SB3C), held last week in Vail, Colorado.
Her lecture, titled, “Blurring interfaces across Engineering + X: A brief look across several projects with a deeper dive into the mechanical and structural microenvironment of the cervix,” focused on her experiences in research, education and administration, including engineering materials for coral restoration and as a faculty member and leader in the first engineering-based Carle Illinois College of Medicine.
Wagoner Johnson also presented her group’s research related to the mechanics of the cervical microenvironment with applications to preterm birth, a problem that affects millions of families annually (and increasing), despite advances in care. Their recent work shows the heterogeneity of cervical remodeling with pregnancy and how heterogeneity can lead to funneling. The research group further used indentation as a tool to probe heterogeneous and anisotropic microscale response of cervix and showed that cross-linking of collagen fibrils and glycosaminoglycans-facilitated deformation contribute to time-dependent and shear-regulated constituent interactions. She described how these interactions lead to a stiffer response with longitudinal fiber deformation – and how understanding the evolution of microstructural and compositional changes and the associated deformation mechanisms may lead to early detection and treatment, thus decreasing the risk for preterm birth.
Wagoner Johnson is Professor and Head of Biomedical & Translational Sciences in the Carle Illinois College of Medicine Professor; Andersen Faculty Scholar in the Mechanical Science & Engineering and Bioengineering departments in the Grainger College of Engineering; Professor in the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology; and an affiliate of the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. Her research program also focuses on biomaterials and biomechanics with applications in bone and coral regeneration and biomechanics of women’s health, in addition to preterm birth.
Notably, MechSE Professor Mariana Kersh was also engaged in the conference, serving as the student paper competition co-chair.