Wagoner Johnson wins Dean's Award for Excellence in Research

2/16/2018 Amanda Maher

Written by Amanda Maher

Amy Wagoner Johnson
Amy Wagoner Johnson
MechSE’s Amy Wagoner Johnson is one of five associate professors to be awarded the 2018 College of Engineering Dean’s Excellence in Research Award.

This award honors associate professors for outstanding research based on their works published the past five years.

Wagoner Johnson received her B.S. in Material Science and Engineering from The Ohio State University in 1996, and then continued to Brown University where she received an M.S. and Ph.D. in Material Science in 1998 and 2002, respectively.

The focus of Wagoner Johnson’s research is the creation of synthetic materials that may one day replace bone grafts. Researchers in the dynamics and controls group utilize 3D printing to create ceramic/ hydroxyapatite scaffolding, and then perform tests to analyze the mechanical properties of the 3D-printed/bone material composite, optimizing them for actual in-vivo applications.  

Specifically, Wagoner Johnson’s group is investigating how live tissue grows into the engineered composites which vary in length from millimeters to nanometers in scale, and how drug/ stem cell delivery can improve bone in-growth. They use a technique called Micro-CT which is a non-destructive technique, similar to a CAT scan, to understand the spatial bone growth within their scaffolds. The group collaborates with local surgeons to analyze the biological response, and they believe that tissue successfully enters the microscale pores of the scaffolding.

In addition to this, the group is collaborating with researchers at Indiana School of Medicine to potentially implant large scale scaffolds, on the order of tens of centimeters. They hope to build blood vessels at the center of the scaffold with the use of stem cells so that the scaffold can connect with outside vessels farther than 150 to 200 microns, the distance beyond which living cells cannot survive from a blood supply.

Wagoner Johnson’s research has garnered several awards and recognitions: the Alice L. Jee Memorial Award from the Sun Valley Workshop on Skeletal Tissue Biology in August of 2008; the Arnold O. Beckman Research Award from the Research Board for “projects of special distinction, special promise, or special resource value” in 2011; the Burroughs Welcome Fund Collaborative Research Travel Award in 2011; the Chair of Excellence (2014-2017) from the Nanoscience Foundation in Grenoble, France; and the title of Center for Advanced Study Associate (2017-2018).

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This story was published February 16, 2018.