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Three Engineers Receive Early Career Awards from NSF

Nina Welding • DATE: March 4, 2016

Categories:  Press Release

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has named three junior faculty members in the College of Engineering — David J. Hoelzle, Scott S. Howard and Jeremiah J. Zartman — winners of the Early Career Development Award (CAREER). Honoring outstanding research and the integration of education and research within their individual organizations, the CAREER Award is the most prestigious award given by the U.S. government to young faculty in engineering and science.

An assistant professor in the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Hoelzle was honored for his proposal titled, “Manufacturing Tools for the Next Generation of Tissue Engineering, Manufacturing Education for the Next Generation of Engineers,” which focuses on developing new ways of manufacturing biomaterials in the rapidly expanding field of tissue engineering. He and his team are investigating additive manufacturing (3D) printing robots that can build engineered tissues inside humans through a “keyhole” surgical site, in essence implanting next-generation biomaterials for tissue regeneration without invasive surgery. In addition to this foundational research, Hoelzle will be developing comprehensive educational programs — one for graduate students that focuses on leadership training, one for senior-level undergraduates that highlights 3D printing technologies and a design program for high school students that simulates a modern engineering design and manufacturing environment.

Hoelzle specializes in the material delivery in 3DP processes and control systems theory and application. He received a master’s degree (2007) and doctorate (2011) from the University of Illinois at Urban-Champaign in mechanical science and engineering and his bachelor’s in mechanical engineering (2005) from The Ohio State University. Prior to joining the Notre Dame faculty in 2012, he served as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California at Los Angeles. He is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

Howard, who returned to the University in 2011, serves as an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering. The goal of his CAREER project, “Three-dimensional, Super-resolution, and Super-sensitivity Quantitative Multiphoton Microscopy in Living Tissue,” is to develop technology for the first three-dimensional super-resolution microscopic imaging inside living organisms. Just as HDTV allows people to see more detail in video images, the super-resolution microscopy Howard and his team are developing will give researchers not only the ability to see single molecules inside of living cells but to see the cells in vivid detail — while simultaneously measuring chemical concentrations within the cells. To date this type of imaging has only been used in cell cultures and never applied to tissue in a living organism. Applications for the technique include the treatment of cancer to wound healing. Educational initiatives related to this project include the development of undergraduate research and entrepreneurship activities and increasing the participation and technical experience of highly talented students from under-represented groups in engineering and science.

Graduating from Notre Dame in 2003, Howard received his doctorate in electrical engineering (2008) from Princeton University. He served as a postdoctoral researcher at Princeton and also at Cornell University prior to joining the University’s Department of Electrical Engineering. He specializes in photonics, biological imaging, medical diagnostics and explosives imaging and is a member of the IEEE Photonics Society and the Optical Society of America.

A faculty member since 2012, Zartman serves as an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. He received the CAREER award for his project, “Integrative Analysis for Reverse Engineering Embryonic Pattern Repair Mechanisms.” To date, Zartman’s research has focused on the cell-to-cell communication that governs organization, growth and tissue development. This project   seeks to identify and better understand cellular communication within embryos. Embryos are able to correct for early mistakes during tissue formation and often repair pattern defects, and this reprogramming of early cells may hold the key to the development of novel diagnostics of diseases whereby cellular imperfections could be identified at a much earlier stage. The research will focus on fruit fly embryos, which are organisms where such repair mechanisms can be efficiently studied. Lessons learned from this research may also provide clues for tissue engineering technologies. In addition to research, educational activities included in this project encompass STEM-related [bioengineering] programs for high school students.

Zartman earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and engineering physics from the University of Colorado at Boulder (2004) and his master’s (2006) and doctorate (2009), both in chemical engineering, from Princeton. Prior to joining the University, he served as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. He is a member of the American Chemical Society, American Institute of Chemical Engineers, Genetics Society of America and Society for Biological Engineering.

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