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UTSI Professor Looks Forward to Developing Future Biomedical Engineers

Jacqueline JohnsonWhen the Institute of Biomedical Engineering (iBME) started in 2013, the goal for the institute was to offer a multidisciplinary curriculum and real-world medical experiences to engineering students. Dr. Jackie Johnson, professor at the University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI) and involved with iBME, is focused on making that goal a reality.

Johnson joined the UTSI faculty in the fall of 2007 and is currently working with four students and a research assistant. She is excited about the future of iBME and is currently working with her research team on the synthesis and characterization of nanoparticles for medical applications. The nanoparticles may be stand-alone nanoparticles or those precipitated in a glass matrix.

Johnson’s future research plans include collaborating with other universities to research solutions to medical problems. “My plans are focused on developing an enhanced magnetic nanoparticle to improve contrast for magnetic resonance imaging with Vanderbilt University and an up-converting luminescent nanoparticle for visualizing tumor margins in the operating room with Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Urbana Champagne,” Johnson said. Johnson and her research team are also working on image plates for dental applications and non-destructive evaluation.

Johnson has had great success with her research throughout the years and has made a lasting impact in the medical field. In the early days of nanoscience, when only Paul Alivisotas of Berkley had made Cadmium sulfide and Cadmium selenide nanoparticles, Johnson was asked by Argonne National Laboratory to make stand-alone selenium nanoparticles. By using the reverse micelle method, she successfully created the stand-alone nanoparticles. Johnson also predicted and proved that ZBLAN glass ceramics was a high-resolution image plate, which set the tone for image plates in mammography, dentistry, and non-destructive evaluation and led to the startup company, GCaDD. For her impressive research and work, Johnson received an R&D100 award.

Johnson feels privileged to work at UTSI and is grateful for the support she receives in her research.

“I am very excited about being a part of iBME with across campus teaching, collaboration with the medical school and opportunity to be part of a large team. My research fits really well into the biomedical engineering program at the University of Tennessee. I look forward to developing future biomedical engineers, which CNN Money says will have the biggest growth in jobs over the next 10 years,” Johnson said.