Amy Wagoner Johnson

Amy Wagoner Johnson
Amy Wagoner Johnson
Professor; Andersen Faculty Scholar
(217) 265-5581
2101A Mechanical Engineering Lab

For More Information


  • Ph.D. Mat. Sci. Brown University 2002
  • M.S. Mat. Sci. Brown University 1998
  • B.S. Mat. Sci. and Eng. The Ohio State University 1996

Academic Positions

  • Head, Department of Biomedical and Translational Sciences, Carle Illinois College of Medicine (33%), 2019 - 2022, 50%, 2022-present
  • Professor, Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, August 2018-present
  • Theme member, Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, Environmental Impacts on Reproductive Health, Fall 2019-present
  • Professor, Bioengineering (0%), August 2018-present
  • Chair of Excellence, NanoSciences Foundation, Grenoble, France, July 2014-2017

Research Statement

Loss of bone through trauma or disease can result in life-threatening complications, so repair of such defects is consequently critical to the health and well-being of patients. Professor Wagoner Johnson's work in biomaterials is laying the scientific groundwork for the design of synthetic bone substitute materials and systems that may one day replace bone grafts currently harvested from patients themselves or from donors. Rejection, disease transmission, and other complications associated with the transplantation of human tissue (as well as the limited availability of donor tissue) make synthetic materials attractive candidates for the repair of bone defects.

To develop such bone substitutes, Professor Wagoner Johnson is investigating how cells and tissues interact with or modify their environment, how tissue grows into the substitute and how drug or stem cell delivery can improve bone in-growth. In one highly collaborative project, her group is investigating scaffolds with pore sizes that span multiple lengthscales, from millimeters to nanometers, as bone replacements for large and load-bearing defects. Researchers in the department's dynamics and controls group make the ceramic (hydroxyapatite) scaffolds via rapid prototype deposition, while researchers in Professor Wagoner Johnson's group work to tailor the scaffold's macro- and microstructure to optimize bone in-growth and mechanical properties of the scaffold/bone composite. As they do so, they work with surgeons from the local hospital, Veterinary Medicine and Animal Sciences to understand and characterize the biological response. The group's preliminary laboratory studies have demonstrated that bone grows more readily into such implants. They believe that tissue infiltrates the microscale pores, which helps to improve mechanical properties of the scaffold in vivo.

The group is also working with researchers at the Indiana School of Medicine on a novel cell-based approach that may make it possible to implant large scaffolds on the order of 10s of centimeters. The size of implants is currently limited by how far the tissues within them are from nutrient-supplying and waste-removing blood vessels. Because living cells cannot survive farther than 150 to 200 microns from a blood supply, cells within large scaffolds typically die before blood vessels from the surrounding tissue can grow into them. By combining two types of stem cells-one from umbilical cord and the other from fat tissue-Professor Wagoner Johnson's group hopes to build blood vessels at the center of the scaffold that can then grow out to connect with vessels outside the scaffold.

Her group also uses a non-destructive imaging technique called Micro-CT, similar to a CAT scan, to understand how bone grows spatially and temporarily into the scaffolds. Such data are used to understand and model the mechanical behavior of the bone/scaffold composites. Students in the group are also developing scaffolds made of a modified form of chitin, the structural material found in the exoskeleton of crustaceans. Gelatin microspheres loaded with a growth factor known to encourage blood vessel growth are built into the scaffolds, which are being developed for the treatment of chronic cutaneous ulcers.

Research Interests

  • Women's reproductive health
  • Biomechanics
  • Biomaterials

Research Areas

  • Computation and Applied Math
  • Dynamics & Controls
  • Environment
  • Health and Bio
  • Manufacturing
  • Solid Mechanics and Materials

Selected Articles in Journals


  • Wagoner Johnson, A., G. Juarez, B. Fouke, K. Marhaver, M. Vermeij, F. Rower, and L. Wegley, "How can materials science help coral restoration science?," Reef Futures 2018, Key Largo, FL, December 10-14, 2018.

Professional Societies

  • Fellow AIMBE, 2021
  • Member, AAAS, 2017-date
  • Member, ASME, 2011-date
  • Member, Society of Engineering Science, 2003-04, 2006-date

Service on Department Committees

  • DEI Committee, 2022/2023
  • MechSE Pre-Med Advisor, 2018-
  • Promotion and Tenure Committee, 2018-

Teaching Honors

  • Society of Women Engineers, Outstanding Engineering Educator Award, 2020
  • Rated as Outstanding on the list of Teachers Ranked as Excellent, Spring 2019 (598 Course Science Communication for Mechanical Engineers with 4.9 on Items 1 and 2)
  • MechSE Two-Year Effective Teaching Award(requires student letters), 2018
  • List of Teachers Ranked an Excellent, Fall 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021; Spring 2019
  • Campus Award for Guiding Undergraduate Research, 2013
  • Amy L Devine Recognition Award from Alpha Omega Epsilon for "being a passionate engineering professor and outstanding advisor," 2009.
  • Engineering Council Award for Excellence in Advising, 2009, 2012, 2020

Research Honors

  • American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering Fellow (AIMBE), 2022
  • Grainger College of Engineering Award for Sustained Excellence in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, 2022
  • Andersen Faculty Scholar, 2020
  • Dean's Award for Excellence in Research, 2018
  • Invited Professor, University of Grenoble, 2016-2017
  • Center for Advanced Study Associate 2017-2018
  • Chair of Excellence (2014-2017), NanoScience Foundation, Grenoble, France

Recent Courses Taught

  • BIOE 497 AWJ - Individual Study
  • ME 482 (BIOE 482) - Musculoskel Tissue Mechanics
  • ME 598 AMJ - Science Communications
  • ME 598 AWJ (ME 598 WJO) - Science Communication for ME