Engineering News

Jonathan Rivnay Awarded Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award

Additionally, Rivnay is awarded a National Science Foundation ASCENT grant

Northwestern Engineering’s Jonathan Rivnay has received an Office of Naval Research’s Young Investigator Program (ONR YIP) award. 

An assistant professor of biomedical engineering, Rivnay is one of 26 recipients who will share $14 million in funding from the ONR YIP. Rivnay, whose focus area will be “3D Assembly of Bidirectional Bioelectronic Scaffolds Towards Accelerated Tissue Repair,” was granted a $555,000 award. 

Jonathan Rivnay

The ONR YIP is a highly competitive early-career award program in which academic achievement and potential for scientific breakthrough are key factors in the evaluation process. The final candidates were chosen from more than 275 applicants — all of whom are college and university faculty and obtained a PhD within the past seven years.

In addition, Rivnay is the primary investigator on a $1.3 million grant from the Addressing Systems Challenges through Engineering Teams (ASCENT) program of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Rivnay will work on BioNet: A Distributed Network of Bioelectronic Devices for Closed-loop Control of Physiological Processes. His collaborators are Colin Franz from the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, Sumanas W. Jordan from the Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine, and Jacob Robinson and Kaiyuan Yang from Rice University.

The NSF’s Electrical, Communications and Cyber Systems Division (ECCS) supports enabling and transformative engineering research at the nano, micro, and macro scales that fuels progress in engineering system applications with high societal impact. ECCS, through its ASCENT program, offers its engineering community the opportunity to address research issues and answer engineering challenges associated with complex systems and networks that are not achievable by a single principal investigator or by short-term projects and can only be achieved by interdisciplinary research teams. 

Both projects take different approaches to realizing electroactive scaffolds to affect regeneration of peripheral nerve. In both cases, the idea is to design new materials and biocomposites that will allow for electrical stimulation at the site of nerve damage, as electrical stimulation is known to influence cellular processes linked to nerve repair and regeneration.

The ONR work focuses on assembly of new materials and thin film electronics to act as active conduits for bidirectional interfacing, while the NSF project envisions a complete wireless bioelectronic system with conducting tissue allografts and brings together biomedical engineers, electrical engineers, and clinicians.

Rivnay designs and develops new materials and devices to facilitate the seamless integration of sensing/actuation technologies with cells and tissue to enable improvements in diagnosis and therapy in his lab. The Rivnay Lab’s research focuses on conducting polymers due to their synthetic tunability, soft mechanical properties, demonstrated stability and compatibility with biological tissue, and their ability to take on a range of form factors.