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:




With more than 60 faculty members, 330 graduate students, and 800 undergraduate students, the Penn State Department of Mechanical Engineering embraces a culture that welcomes individuals with a diversity of backgrounds and expertise. Our faculty and students are innovating today what will impact tomorrow’s solutions to meeting our energy needs, homeland security, biomedical devices, and transportation systems. We offer B.S. degrees in mechanical engineering as well as resident (M.S., Ph.D.) and online (M.S.) graduate degrees in mechanical engineering. See how we’re inspiring change and impacting tomorrow at

Department of Mechanical Engineering

137 Reber Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-865-2519