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Penn State Harrisburg professor receives NSF CAREER Award

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — Fariborz Tavangarian, assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the School of Science, Engineering and Technology at Penn State Harrisburg, has received a $616,000 award from the National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) for his project ” Achieving Resilience in Fragile Materials through bio-inspired interlocking cylindrical structures.

The CAREER program is an NSF-wide initiative that offers NSF’s most prestigious awards to support early-career faculty “who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to advance the mission of their department or organization.. The activities undertaken by early career faculty provide a solid foundation for a lifetime of leadership in the integration of education and research.

Tavangarian expressed her gratitude for this important recognition and noted the impact of the work she will support.

“This award provides the foundation for advancing existing knowledge in the field of ceramic materials and subsequently applying the knowledge to design new bone scaffolds for biomedical applications,” he said.

Ceramics and other brittle materials play a central role in biomedical, automotive and aerospace applications and their failure under thermal and mechanical stress is a concern, according to Tavangarian. His research aims to address this concern by focusing on the study of the microstructure, micromechanical properties, and patterns and mechanisms of crack development found in certain marine sponges. Although their structural components – known as marine spicules – are made of a brittle ceramic (silica), they exhibit unusual toughness and flexibility due to unique factors within the structure.

“Dr. Tavangarian’s research has benefited from the world-class research facilities at Penn State’s Material Research Institute and the resources provided by our university,” said Vahid Motevalli, director of the Penn State Harrisburg School of Science, Engineering and Technology. “These resources and award are very important to the growth of engineering at Penn State Harrisburg, and we are thrilled that its CAREER award will further enrich our school and our student experience.”

Tavangarian’s research results will be used to design and fabricate similar structures from fragile materials and explore the potential of these bio-inspired structures for human bone tissue engineering and other applications.

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