About MRS

Dawnielle Farrar-Gaines

image of Dawnielle Farrar-GainesDawnielle Farrar-Gaines is a senior electrical & materials engineer at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL). She is responsible for providing creative solutions to problems across disciplines including micro and nano materials, piezo-electric and multi-functional materials, sensors, microscopy, microelectronics, and packaging. In addition, she uses her inter-disciplinary skills to design and fabricate devices/systems small enough to fit on the edge of a piece of paper.

Farrar-Gaines’ research interests include micro/nano systems, polymer materials, metamaterials and transducers. Of her many projects, one recent innovation involves reconstruction of the ossicular chain to restore hearing to those impaired by middle-ear damage (conductive hearing loss) or disease. This work makes use of a piezoelectric material technology she developed that provides surgeons with the ability to determine proper mechanical forces across the traditional titanium prosthesis and also confirm that hearing has been properly restored in-situ (opposed to months after surgery), a capability that was previously unavailable to surgeons and required more “feel” and experience without intra-operative measures to confirm decisions. A variation in the fabrication process of the referenced material allows the technology to also be used for noise-reduction, hearing protection, and microphone applications.

Farrar-Gaines is a professor in the JHU School of Engineering, chair of the Women in Materials Science & Engineering Committee for the Materials Research Society, has authored /co-authored more than 30 papers, holds four patents (with two pending), and produced a book chapter. She has been recognized as a “Rising Star” (2002), “Modern Day Technology Leader” (2003), “Woman of APL” (2007), and “Innovator in Technology” (2011), and featured in several magazines/articles. Her research efforts have been highlighted in Advanced Materials Journal and she was recently awarded the Innovation in Technology Award (2014) in recognition of her “distinguished contributions to the engineering profession in the area of smart materials.”

She is currently a member of the Materials Research Society (MRS), Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers (IEEE), the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and the International Microelectronics and Packaging Society (IMAPS). She also serves on the Every Girl Can Be SMART and Ingenuity Advisory Boards, and mentors students from the undergraduate through post-doc levels.

Farrar-Gaines earned a Ph.D. and M.S. in materials science and engineering, as well as an M.S. in electrical engineering, from Johns Hopkins University; a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland College Park; and a B.S. in physics (minor in Chemistry) from Lincoln University. 

Candidate’s Statement

In 2006, I joined MRS as a new member to the materials field with a background in electrical engineering. At that time, my research interest required a merging of the electrical and materials engineering fields and I had just covered significant ground with my research findings. I received an invitation to highlight my work as an invited speaker for one of the technical sessions. After my first meeting, I knew that this society would be part of my portfolio for years to come, as I thoroughly enjoyed the various symposia and established a good network in a very short period of time. Shortly thereafter, I joined the Women in Materials Science & Engineering (MS&E) subcommittee where I was able to make an impact as a committee volunteer. I co-chaired four different technical sessions while being involved with the subcommittee, and by 2010, I was appointed chair of the subcommittee.

As subcommittee chair, I have actively pursued ways to increase inclusion across a number of platforms for women and underrepresented minorities in the field of materials science & engineering. I have led efforts which increased the number of male participants in the professional development workshops and keynote breakfasts hosted by the Women in MS&E Subcommittee. With a great team of headquarters staff and volunteers supporting me, I also generated our e-Newsletter—Community Connections—a practical tool used to feature some broader impact topics and highlight talent that exists within MRS, while addressing challenges and areas for potential growth. My role as subcommittee chair has given me an appreciation for the behind-the-scenes tasks required to keep this organized society functioning as a well-oiled machine.

Why would I like to join the Board of Directors?

I am interested in joining the Board of Directors because I desire to be part of an organization that is committed to influencing the direction of the materials field. My exposure thus far has allowed me to contribute to the advancement of the society in ways that I would not have imagined, all while positively impacting the membership. My leadership, technical expertise, and role on the Board of Directors would enable me to use the knowledge and skills acquired to make an even broader impact in the years ahead.