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College of Engineering News

Renowned inventor Kristi Kiick takes the helm of growing department

Kristi Kiick, the Blue and Gold Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Delaware, is the new chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, effective December 1, 2020.

Kiick is an internationally recognized inventor and an expert in the design and synthesis of biologically inspired and biologically produced materials, developing materials for treating wounds, arthroses, and surgically manipulated blood vessels.  She served as the Associate Director of the BME program in 2010-2011, working with the Director, Jill Higginson, a professor of mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering, and now associate dean for graduate and postgraduate education in the College of Engineering.

A Fellow of the American Chemical Society and a member of the National Academy of Inventors, Kiick has published nearly 175 articles, book chapters, and patents, and has delivered over 200 invited and award lectures. Kiick’s honors have included several awards (Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation New Faculty, Beckman Young Investigator, National Science Foundation CAREER, DuPont Young Professor, and Delaware Biosciences Academic Research Award, Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professor, Fulbright Scholar) as well as induction as a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and of the American Chemical Society Division of Polymer Chemistry. She also serves on the advisory and editorial boards for multiple international journals and research organizations.

From 2011 to 2019, Kiick served as the deputy dean of the College of Engineering. In this role, she worked with stakeholders across the university and region to develop interdisciplinary graduate and research partnerships with various industries and national laboratories. She also focused efforts internally to strengthen the college’s intellectual and physical infrastructure.

From July 2019 through July 2020, Kiick studied in the United Kingdom through a Leverhulme Visiting Professorship, which provides funds for eminent scholars to visit the UK, and a Fulbright Award, one of the most prestigious international scholarship opportunities.

“Kristi is a highly regarded scholar and innovator, and a proven leader,” said Levi Thompson, Dean of the College of Engineering. “I cannot think of a person better suited to lead our Department of Biomedical Engineering into its next phase of growth for impact.”

“It is a great honor to have the opportunity to work with the BME faculty, staff, and students,” said Kiick. “The department has a wonderful foundation and trajectory, and I am looking forward to working collaboratively with the department and its partners to further extend BME’s impact.”

A growing department

For the last decade, the biomedical engineering department, established in 2010, has been led by founding department chair Dawn Elliott, Blue and Gold Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering.

The department has grown rapidly, accommodating up to 100 new students each fall, plus a thriving graduate program. It is rated among the top one-third of all biomedical engineering departments nationwide.

Under Elliott’s leadership, the department has recruited award-winning faculty, four of whom have received prestigious NSF CAREER Awards within the past three years.

Students and alumni are thriving as well. For example, 95 percent of biomedical engineering alumni who received a bachelor’s degree from 2015 to 2019 are employed or pursuing higher education. They’re working in 49 states and 94 countries around the world.

“Dawn has been a tremendous leader. She took an idea and helped turn it into the research and education powerhouse that our biomedical engineering department is today,” said Thompson.