Rice Bioengineering welcomes three new faculty members

New BIOE faculty members bring opportunities for conducting world-class research

Butts, King, Reinhart-king

Three new tenure-track faculty members next year will join the Department of Bioengineering (BIOE) at Rice.

They are among this year’s 21 new faculty hires in the George R. Brown School of Engineering. This latest group of researchers and teachers further establishes the school’s prominence in its key research areas: health and well-being, energy and sustainability, resilient and adaptive communities, advanced materials, and future computing.

The new members of the BIOE faculty are:

Michael King, full professor: King is currently the J. Lawrence Wilson Professor of Engineering and Department Chair of Biomedical Engineering at Vanderbilt University. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), Biomedical Engineering Society and the International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering. His lab studies cancer metastasis and mechanotransduction, and he will be a CPRIT Scholar at Rice. King is chair of the AIMBE College of Fellows and editor-in-chief of Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering. He served as chair of the BME Council of Chairs and previously taught at Cornell and the University of Rochester. He will join the Rice faculty July 1, 2024.

Cynthia Reinhart-King, John W. Cox Chair of BIOE: She is a University Distinguished Professor and Senior Associate Dean for Research at Vanderbilt University in Biomedical Engineering and Cell and Developmental Biology. She serves as president of the Biomedical Engineering Society and is a fellow of BMES, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and International Academy of Medical and Biological Engineering. She has won numerous awards for research, teaching and service. Her research focuses on understanding the mechanisms that drive tissue formation and tissue disruption in such diseases as cancer and atherosclerosis. She will join the Rice faculty on July 1, 2024, when she will become department chair of BIOE.

Jessica Butts, assistant professor: Butts earned her Ph.D. in BIOE from the University of California, San Francisco, in 2018. She then served as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Postdoctoral Associate in Molecular and Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine. She researches neuronal fate decisions in the developing hindbrain. Her long-term research goals are to utilize tissue engineering strategies and multi-omic approaches to develop mouse and human stem cell-derived brainstem organoid models mimicking native neural development. She will join the faculty on Jan. 1, 2024.