INBT alum named 2015 Outstanding Young Engineer in Maryland

Laura Ensign-Hodges, PhD, an assistant professor in the Department of Ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, was recently named the 2015 Outstanding Young Engineer by the Maryland Academy of Sciences at the Maryland Science Center (see video below). Ensign, who graduated from Johns Hopkins with a doctorate in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in 2012, was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute fellow through the Institute for NanoBioTechnology and among INBT’s first training grant students. We asked her how her experience with INBT helped guide her career path.

Copyright 2011 by Marty Katz

Laura Ensign-Hodges (Photo by Marty Katz)

What role did your association with INBT play in your research and career path?

Joining INBT as an HHMI fellow was one of the reasons I decided to come to JHU for graduate school. The emphasis on multidisciplinary research is something I’ve certainly carried with me throughout my training. I strongly believe that truly impactful research results from multidisciplinary teams/collaboration.

Why did you choose to stay at JHU/JHMI after graduation?

I chose to stay at JHU/JHMI for a few reasons: (1) I had many new and exciting research areas developing to which I am intellectually and emotionally attached, (2) the research environment at JHU/JHMI is unparalleled and an ideal place for multidisciplinary collaboration and translational research;  and (3) it made the most sense for my family as well as my career.

What advice might you give to young women thinking about going into engineering?

My advice for women thinking about going into engineering is to approach it with no reservations or assumptions. Although engineering is still a male-dominated field, I have worked alongside many well-respected, successful female engineers … and they didn’t have to act more “like a man”!

What are your current research interests?

My current research interests can generally be encompassed in mucosal drug delivery and characterization of mucosal barriers and microbiome. The applications range from treatment of inflammatory bowel disease to prevention of preterm labor.

Learn more about Laura Ensign-Hodges’ research here.


All press inquiries about INBT should be directed to Mary Spiro, INBT’s science writer and media relations director at

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