Dawnielle Farrar-Gaines is a senior electrical and 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, but large enough in impact to service our military and medical communities.
Farrar-Gaines earned a PhD degree and MS degree in materials science and engineering, as well as an MS degree in electrical engineering, from Johns Hopkins University; a BS degree in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland; and a BS degree in physics (minor in chemistry) from Lincoln University.
Farrar-Gaines’ research interests include micro/nano systems, polymeric 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, an elected member of the Board of Directors for the Materials Research Society, has authored/co-authored more than 40 papers, holds eight 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 also 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 Advisory Board, and mentors students from the undergraduate through post-doc levels.