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Honors and Awards

Ian McCue, Ryan Truby Receive DARPA Young Faculty Awards

Both will receive a two-year award of $500,000

Northwestern Engineering’s Ian McCue and Ryan Truby have both received the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Young Faculty Award (YFA).

McCue is the Morris E. Fine Junior Professor in Materials and Manufacturing at the McCormick School of Engineering’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and Truby is the June and Donald Brewer Junior Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Mechanical Engineering. Both will receive a two-year award of $500,000. 

Ian McCue, left, Ryan Truby

McCue’s research group focuses on the design, behavior, and qualification of superior materials for extreme environments. Extreme environments – such as high enthalpy, radiation, and strain rate – are central to several emerging technologies. However, these conditions often push materials past their limits and cause premature failure. McCue’s group addresses these shortcomings by pushing the boundaries of microstructural control to create new materials that are stronger, tougher, more thermally stable, and even capable of repairing themselves. His YFA project is entitled, “Learning Material Properties Through Real-Time, High-Speed Image Acquisition During Subtractive Machining”.

Truby’s Robotic Matter Lab at Northwestern designs material systems – or robotic materials – that provide bioinspired devices and robots unprecedented capabilities via novel material forms and functions. Its research programs focus on three core themes in pursuit of this mission: design, fabrication, and control of robotic materials and soft robots built from them. Truby is interested in translating soft material functionalities into novel robot and device capabilities, including bioinspired means of actuation, sensing, and power. His YFA was given for a project entitled, “Biocompatible Soft Batteries via Bundles of Axon-Inspired, Ionogel Composite Fibers”.

The DARPA YFA program aims to identify and engage standout researchers in junior research positions, emphasizing those without prior DARPA funding, and expose them to Department of Defense (DoD) needs and DARPA’s program development process. The program provides funding, mentoring, and industry and DoD contacts to awardees early in their careers to help them develop their research ideas in the context of national security needs. The long-term goal of the YFA program is to develop the next generation of academic scientists, engineers, and mathematicians who will focus a significant portion of their career on DoD and national security issues.