Faculty Profile

Amy Jaye Wagoner Johnson

Mechanical Science and Engineering
Amy Jaye Wagoner Johnson
Amy Jaye Wagoner Johnson
Associate Professor
128 Mechanical Engineering Bldg
1206 W. Green
Urbana Illinois 61801
(217) 265-5581

Primary Research Area

  • Biomechanics


  • 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

  • Affiliate, Carle R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, Computing Genomes for Reproductive Health Theme, May 2017-present
  • Associate Professor, Carle-Illinois College of Medicine (0%), inaugural faculty, May 2017-present
  • Associate Professor, Bioengineering (0%), March 2017-present
  • Chair of Excellence, NanoSciences Foundation, Grenoble, France, July 2014-present
  • Core Faculty Member, Carle R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering (ReBTE) Theme, August 2013-present
  • Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, UIUC, August 2012-present
  • Visiting Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, Washington University, St. Louis, MO, November 2010-present
  • Adjunct Research Assistant Professor, Bioengineering, UIUC, December 2003￿May 2005
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering, UIUC, May 16, 2005-August 15, 2012

For more information

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 Topics

  • Biomechanics

Selected Articles in Journals

Invited Lectures

Professional Societies

  • Member, ASME Bioengineering Division Tissue and Cellular Engineering Committee, 2011-2015
  • Member, ASME, 2011-date
  • Member, Society of Engineering Science, 2003-04, 2006-date
  • Member, Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS), 2006-2007
  • MRS Public Outreach Committee, January 2004-2008
  • Member, The Materials Research Society (MRS), 1998-2010
  • Member, The Minerals Metals and Materials Society (TMS), 1994-2003, 2009-present

Teaching Honors

  • Campus Award for Guiding Undergraduate Research, 2013
  • Engineering Council Award for Excellence in Advising, 2012
  • 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

Research Honors

  • Center for Advanced Study Associate (2017-2018)
  • Chair of Excellence (2014-2017), NanoScience Foundation, Grenoble, France
  • Burroughs Wellcome Fund Collaborative Research Travel Award, 2011.
  • Arnold O. Beckman Research Award from the Research Board for "projects of special distinction, special promise, or special resource value," 2011.
  • Alice L. Jee Memorial Award, Sun Valley Workshop on Skeletal Tissue Biology, August 2008