Message from the Chair
Rice University Department of Bioengineering’s faculty members and their laboratories have diverse research interests focused on establishing engineering principles and developing novel technologies that solve a host of problems in life science. We are also far-sighted educators united in the purpose to instruct and train students so that they are equipped to be a leading force in the relatively new, but burgeoning field of bioengineering.
Our teaching and research faculty are, as consistently noted by alumni, our greatest strength. This year Dr. Antonios Mikos became Rice’s 14th active member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). This tremendous honor was followed by his and Dr. Lydia Kavraki’s induction into the Institute of Medicine (IOM) of the National Academies.
Our Professor in the Practice of Bioengineering Education, Dr. Ann Saterbak, was selected for the Theo Pilkington Outstanding Educator Award by the Biomedical Engineering Division (BED) of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). This is the second ASEE award she has received for her leadership at Rice.
Rice bioengineering is also celebrating the promotion with tenure of four of its members. Doctors Michael Diehl, Oleg Igoshin, and Tomasz Tkaczyk are now associate professors, and Jane Grande-Allen is a full professor.
We are proud to announce the appointment of Jordan Miller and David Yu Zhang. Their recruitment will expand our programs in tissue engineering, molecular systems processes and engineering design.
Dr. Miller, an assistant professor of bioengineering, specializes in applications of synthetic chemistry, 3-D printing, microfabrication, and molecular imaging to create and study cellular microenvironments. He then uses this knowledge to solve challenges in large-scale tissue engineering for regenerative medicine. Dr. Miller has a B.S. in biology and a minor in biomedical engineering from MIT.
Dr. Zhang, the Ted Law Jr. Assistant Professor of Bioengineering, focuses on the systematic modeling and rational design of nucleic acids. His lab is particularly interested in understanding how natural nucleic acids behave, and in the engineering of designer nucleic acid molecules that enable revolutionary in vitro diagnostics, in situ imaging, tissue engineering, transcription regulation, and materials scaffolding and modulation. Dr. Zhang has a Ph.D. in computation and neural systems and a B.S. in biology from Caltech.
In addition to our achievements in path-breaking research, our education programs empower students and result in technologies that enhance our world. For this aim, our undergraduate engineering education program, Beyond Traditional Borders (BTB), which is managed by the Rice 360° Institute for Global Health Technologies, was chosen for the Lemelson-MIT Award for Global Innovation for bringing life-saving health solutions to the developing world. The award’s $100,000 cash prize will go toward the construction of a new neonatal ward at the African hospital that has helped implement Rice’s low-cost, student-designed health care technologies since 2007.
More than 10 percent of Rice undergraduates have participated in BTB, which has produced 58 low-cost health technologies, including two that are already being broadly distributed by national health authorities in the developing world.
In 2006, the department began offering programs of graduate study leading to a professional master’s in bioengineering (M.B.E.). Since then, over 40 students have graduated with an M.B.E. We are currently modifying our curriculum to complement the bioengineering coursework with a range of professional development electives that focus on management, entrepreneurship, leadership, and communications. Likewise to ensure the continued strength and leadership of our Ph.D. graduate program, the department is refining the curriculum to focus on core courses that give students a firm grounding in the concepts and tools necessary for emerging research.
Rebecca Richards-Kortum, Ph.D.
Stanley C. Moore Professor of Bioengineering
Chair, Department of Bioengineering
Director, Rice 360°: Institute for Global Health Technologies