Innovative work on a new type of heart stent sensor has earned Nakhiah Goulbourne, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Va., a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award of $400,000. The focus of Goulbourne's research is to describe what happens to a human artery equipped with a stent that has a unique type of in situ polymer strain-sensing device. The failure rate of stent implants, which act as scaffolds in arteries to allow proper cardiovascular flow, can be as high as 20 to 30 percent. "This award creates an excellent opportunity to pursue my research on electroactive polymer biosensors. I believe that in situ health monitoring realized through multifunctional sensors will arm clinicians with new diagnostic tools and enable critical interventions. The ultimate goal of this research is to bridge the gap between vascular mechanical response and current vascular health, which will be of widespread benefit to our society," Goulbourne said. She received a bachelor's degree in physics from Middlebury College and completed her master's degree and PhD in mechanical engineering at The Pennsylvania State University. She is one of the core faculty members in Virginia Tech's Center for Intelligent Material Systems and Structures. Goulbourne is a member of the Society of Engineering Science, SPIE, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the American Society of Engineering Education.