Photo of Joseph Najem

Joseph Najem

Assistant Professor


  • Mechanical Engineering

336C Reber Building


Research Website

Research Areas:

Biomedical/Bioengineering; Design & Manufacturing; Energy Systems; Mechanical Sciences; Sensors & Controls

Interest Areas:

Development of smart materials that have the characteristics of biological systems: sensing, actuation, signal processing, computing and learning. Keywords: Bioinspiration, Biomolecular Assemblies, Biophysics, Multifunctional Materials, Soft Materials, Emergent Behavior




  • BE, Mechanical Engineering, Lebanese American University, 2009
  • MS, Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech, 2012
  • Ph D, Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech, 2015


Journal Articles

  • Joseph Najem, Joshua J. Maraj, Leo He, Jessie Ringley, Charles P. Collier and Stephen A. Sarles, 2021, "Short-term facilitation-then-depression enables adaptive processing of sensory inputs by ion channels in biomolecular synapses", ACS Applied Electronica Materials, 3, (10), pp. 4448-4458
  • Woochul Song, Himanshu Joshi, Ratul Chowdhury, Joseph Najem, Yue-Xiao Shen, Chao Lang, Codey B Henderson, Yu-Ming Tu, Megan Farell, Megan E Pitz, Costas D Maranas, Paul Cremer, Robert J Hickey, Stephen A Sarles, Jun-li Hou, Aleksei Aksimentiev and Manish Kumar, 2020, "Artificial water channels enable fast and selective water permeation through water-wire networks", Nature Nanotechnology, 15, (1), pp. 73-79
  • Joseph Najem, Md Sakib Hasan, Ryan J Weiss, Garrett S Rose, Graham J Taylor, Stephen A Sarles and C Patrick Collier, 2019, "Dynamical nonlinear memory capacitance in biomimetic membranes", Nature Communications, 10, (1), pp. 1-11
  • Subhadeep Koner, Joseph Najem, Md Sakib Hasan and Stephen A Sarles, 2019, "Memristive plasticity in artificial electrical synapses via geometrically reconfigurable, gramicidin-doped biomembranes", Nanoscale, 11, (40), pp. 18640-18652
  • Joseph Najem, Ian Rowe, Andriy Anishkin, Donald J Leo and Sergei Sukharev, 2018, "The voltage-dependence of MscL has dipolar and dielectric contributions and is governed by local intramembrane electric field", Scientific Reports, 8, (1), pp. 1-12
  • Elio J Challita, Joseph Najem, Rachel Monroe, Donald J Leo and Eric C Freeman, 2018, "Encapsulating networks of droplet interface bilayers in a thermoreversible organogel", Scientific Reports, 8, (1), pp. 1-11
  • Joseph Najem, Graham J Taylor, Ryan J Weiss, Md Sakib Hasan, Garrett Rose, Catherine D Schuman, Alex Belianinov, C Patrick Collier and Stephen A Sarles, 2018, "Memristive ion channel-doped biomembranes as synaptic mimics", American Chemical Society (ACS) Nano, 12, (5), pp. 4702-4711
  • Joseph Najem, Eric C Freeman, Anthony Yasmann, Sergei Sukharev and Donald J Leo, 2017, "Mechanics of droplet interface bilayer “unzipping” defines the bandwidth for the mechanotransduction response of reconstituted MscL", Advanced Materials Interfaces, 4, (3), pp. 1-10
  • Joseph Najem, M D Dunlap, I D Rowe, E C Freeman, J W Grant, S Sukharev and D J Leo, 2015, "Activation of bacterial channel MscL in mechanically stimulated droplet interface bilayers.", Scientific Reports, 5, pp. 13726-13726
  • Joseph Najem, Stephen A Sarles, Barbar Akle and Donald J Leo, 2012, "Biomimetic jellyfish-inspired underwater vehicle actuated by ionic polymer metal composite actuators", Smart Materials and Structures, 21, (9), pp. 1-12

Conference Proceedings


Research Projects

Honors and Awards

  • Outstanding Researcher Award, University of Tennessee, 2019
  • Iota Delta Rho Interdisciplinary Research Honor Society, Virginia Tech, 2015
  • Pratt Fellowship, Virginia Tech, 2012
  • Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society, Tau Beta Pi, 2011
  • Air Force’s Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Research Program (AFOSR YIP), Air Force Office of Scientific Research, December 2022


Service to Penn State:

Service to External Organizations: