About MRS

Dawnielle Farrar-Gaines, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

Dawnielle Farrar-Gaines

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.

Candidate's Statement

My Roles within MRS
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.

Upon completion of my term as Women in MS&E subcommittee chair, I was elected to the Board of Directors, effective January 2017. After being elected to the Board of Directors (BOD), I was able to observe clear differences between the subcommittee and board-level roles. As a director, I was responsible for setting direction for MRS, establishing policy, and providing operational oversight at a much higher level. In my first year on the BOD, I was responsible for forecasting our 5-year plan as it relates to the direction of the society. Strategic decisions were made to ensure that the society would not only be equipped for upcoming change, but was also prepared to weather the storm during pockets of uncertainty. This was a very engaging and enlightening experience because it forced us (as a BOD) to re-examine our mission, streamline our vision, and also diversify the process going forward to ensure inclusion of the next generation of scientists/engineers. Nearing the close of my first year, I was appointed Board Chair of the Planning Committee, where I am currently working with fellow directors to refresh our governance in preparation for the upcoming 2020 Strategic Planning meeting, and also exploring two charges to increase our University-Industry collaborations, and enhance our Technical Communities. In addition to my duties as Planning Committee Chair, I also organized a technical symposium on Additive Manufacturing of Metals, a new topic that fit nicely into our 2019 symposia portfolio.

Why would I like to become an Officer of the Board?
I am interested in becoming an officer of the Board 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 as an officer of the Board would enable me to use the knowledge and skills acquired to make an even broader impact in the years ahead.