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Message from the Dean

January 26th, 2009

I’d like to begin this post with some time sensitive information for our SEAS students, especially those completing their bachelor’s and master’s degrees this spring. The Kauffman Foundation has developed a unique opportunity for five university students across the United States to study entrepreneurship in Singapore–the Kauffman-Singapore Scholars Program. The program is fully funded by the Kauffman Foundation and is part of a collaboration with Singapore’s leading science and technology university, Nanyang Technological University. Five selected students–on schedule to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree in engineering, science, and/or technology in Spring 2009, or have completed a degree in these areas within the past three years–will learn about the thriving Asian market on the NTU campus. Students will have the rare opportunity to experience the global culture and economy of Singapore while learning to develop the skills to turn their entrepreneurial ideas into businesses with global growth potential.

The application for the Kauffman-Singapore Scholars Program is available here and must be completed by the Feb. 10 deadline–that’s just a little over two weeks away! Information regarding qualifications and criteria can be found at the above address as well. The program begins May 23, with participants returning at the end of October 2009. Interested SEAS students should not miss this exciting opportunity to learn about technology, entrepreneurship, and a key global market.

As for faculty news, I am pleased to report that the research of BME associate professor Diane Dalecki, and her colleague at the Medical Center, Denise Hocking, was prominently featured at the National Institute of Health’s Advisory Council Meeting last Friday. Their work was referenced as “a great example of bridging the life and physical sciences,” by presenter Rosemarie Hunziker, Program Director of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine at NIH. Diane and Denise’s latest project–funded under a five-year NIH grant awarded last October–explores the use of ultrasound in wound healing, from its potential to enhance cell growth to its ability to promote mechanical strength in tissues. The overall goal of the project is to identify key biological and physical mechanisms for ultrasound-enhanced soft tissue wound healing in order to develop the use of ultrasound for chronic wound therapy. Time and again our SEAS faculty demonstrate their capabilities to not only solve complex scientific problems, but to address issues that have a tangible, everyday impact. Keep up the great work!

Finally, on a lighter note, I want to share with all of you a personal accomplishment of one of our SEAS staffers. Lois Gresh–the technical communications director for ECE, LLE, and PAS–had her most recent book, The Twilight Companion, featured on the New York Times Best Seller List for four weeks between Nov. 16, 2008 and Jan. 11, 2008. It peaked at #6 in both Dec. and Jan., and will be at #10 at the start of Feb. Her book also reached the #8 spot on the Science Fiction Book Club’s Dec. 2008 “Top 67 Best-Selling Young Adult Books” list. Aimed primarily at 9-15 year olds, Lois’ book offers a detailed guide to the world and characters of Stephanie Meyer’s popular Twilight series of novels. Congratulations Lois!

As you can see the spring semester is off to a wonderful start. And, as always, I want to end by encouraging all of you to send me any information about SEAS events, awards, and initiatives that I might share with the rest of our community. Enjoy the week ahead.

Message from the Dean

January 19th, 2009

The spring semester has just gotten underway, and as expected there is already exciting news that I’d like to bring to your attention.

Duncan Moore, professor of optics, biomedical engineering and business administration here at the University of Rochester, has been named a Fellow of the IEEE in 2009. This is truly a well deserved honor for Duncan. He is being recognized by the IEEE for his important work on gradient-index–or GRIN–optical systems and his contributions to optical technologies for the Hubble Space Telescope. Duncan’s GRIN work led him to found the Rochester-based Gradient Lens Corporation in 1980, an endeavor that underscores his entrepreneurial drive to move ideas and technologies from the lab into the real world. Duncan also chaired the Hubble Independent Optical Review Panel in 1990 that determined the optical prescription that successfully compensated for an aberration in the main mirror of the telescope. Duncan is one of only three IEEE members from upstate New York named as fellows in 2009, yet another indication of the exceptional quality of our SEAS faculty. Congratulations Duncan!

Another instance of the strong entrepreneurship amongst SEAS faculty and researchers can be seen with the University-based company SiMPore. Back in 2004, research associate Christopher Striemer discovered a unique ultra-thin, porous membrane–only 15 nanometers thick, or more than 4,000 times thinner than a human hair! Such technology stands to have numerous commercial applications, ranging from the separation of proteins and improvement of hemodialysis, to speeding ion exchange in fuel cells and increasing efficiency in the culturing of stem cells. The diverse possibilities led Striemer, BME Associate Professor, James McGrath, and others affiliated with the U of R to found SiMPore. And this month the company has unveiled its first product, a microscope slide, or window, made from the very same membrane technology. These windows permit vastly superior, high-resolution imaging at the atomic scale in electron microscopy and will allow researchers to better understand the intricate structures of nanomaterials. Again, this is a great example of the talented individuals at SEAS taking their research and putting it into action.

The last thing I’d like to mention this week is the continuing success of a summer program held annually at the Laboratory for Laser Energetics that involves high school students in cutting-edge scientific research. Just this past week, two local high school students were named as semi-finalists in Intel’s Science Talent Search for research projects they carried out at LLE last summer. 300 semi-finalists were selected from roughly 1,600 hundred that entered the national competition, and 40 finalists will be announced on Jan. 28. The finalists–of which LLE has had several in the past few years–will be invited to the Science Talent Institute in March in Washington, D.C., to compete for college scholarships totaling more than $500,000. It is high school outreach programs like LLE’s that can motivate and excite young students about the possibilities afforded in science and engineering as they begin considering their longer-term options and goals. The main reason I’m sharing this with all of you is that I think the SEAS community would do well to think of other ways we can offer more young people the chance to experience the diverse opportunities in engineering and applied science, especially here at the U of R.

With the semester picking up momentum, be sure to send any information about SEAS related events, awards, and initiatives my way.

Message from the Dean

January 12th, 2009

I just wanted to briefly welcome you all back to campus after what I hope was a relaxing and enjoyable winter break. Happy New Year!

The spring semester will be underway in a couple of days and I’d like to encourage all of our students to continue challenging yourselves in your endeavors at the University, especially our seniors. Even though graduation is fast approaching there are still so many opportunities worth exploring here at the U of R, both in terms of courses and research projects. And do not hesitate to branch out and immerse yourselves in areas of study that are unfamiliar. Whether you plan to pursue graduate education, or dive right into the professional world, you have every reason to keep expanding your knowledge base and honing your skills as engineers and critical thinkers.

Personally, I’m thrilled to be back, and anxious for what promises to be an exciting semester to get started. There will be plenty of SEAS-related happenings to report on in the coming weeks with National Engineers Week scheduled for February 15-21. Pass along any news you would like to share – it is always great for the SEAS community to hear about what everyone is up to.

Message from the Dean

December 22nd, 2008

The end of the semester has officially arrived and much of our student population — along with many faculty and staff — will be returning home or traveling over the winter break. Things will be relatively quiet around campus for the next few weeks, but there are still a couple of items I’d like to bring to your attention as we head into the New Year.

First, SEAS’ Professor David Wu was recently named a key co-investigator under a new $3.18 million first-year government contract awarded by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which operates within the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response. The project brings together researchers from medicine, biology, and engineering fields here at the U of R to investigate a “post-radiation pill” that could be used in the event of an accident or act of terrorism involving nuclear or radiological devices. Researchers will be testing the drug eltrombopag, which comes in tablet form, rather than as an injection, as a potentially safe, effective and convenient way to treat hundreds or thousands of patients in radiation-related medical emergencies. The team will be using the 3D human bone marrow bioreactor developed in Professor Wu’s lab as a model for radiation treatment drug testing. This is another excellent example of the close proximity of the U of R’s engineering and medical researchers, and how that closeness allows sharing of expertise across disciplines that can be leveraged to reach solutions to urgent 21st century problems. The collaborative environment here at the U of R is, quite simply, unsurpassed anywhere else.

Second is something of importance to our students as they begin to think about their post-graduation careers. The Simon Graduate School of Business has announced an opportunity to spend the first three weeks in June at their Summer Business Institute. According to the program description, participants will “discover exciting opportunities in business, get a head start on their career path and meet other talented and ambitious future leaders.” Although winter break is typically a brief reprieve from more serious matters, it is also a great time to reflect on your long-term goals. I want to encourage all of our aspiring professional engineers to consider their entrepreneurial drive, and weigh the possible benefits of applying to such a program. Here is some more detailed information: The program will include courses in business essentials such as management, marketing, finance, accounting, and leadership, along with real business world discussions, roundtables and lectures by Simon faculty and outside business leaders. Participants will learn how to craft compelling résumés, work on their interview skills and help solve real world business problems on a diverse team of peers. Those who complete the program will earn 4 credit hours and a Certificate of Completion from the Simon School that will add value to their résumé. The program cost is $3,500including all materials. For additional information, contact Professor George Cook at (585) 273-4890 ore-mail To apply, contact (585) 275-3533 or

The SEAS community has a long, storied history of successful entrepreneurship. The program at the Simon School looks to be a great chance for our current students and recent graduates to get their feet wet in the business world.

Over the winter break my weekly newsletter will be on a brief hiatus, but once our campus starts bustling again, there will be plenty to report. The next installment is scheduled for January 12, so continue to send your news and accomplishments my way.

Having now completed a full semester as your Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, I want all of you — alumni, students, faculty, and staff — to know how much I have enjoyed meeting and working with you this semester. The enthusiasm that I brought with me to this new position has grown each and every day that I have spent on this wonderful campus. There is no doubt that we will face challenges in the coming year, but I am certain that as a community, a great University, and an outstanding School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, we will address them as we continue in the motto of our University: Meliora.

From the looks of it the week ahead promises to be a wintry one here in Rochester and the Northeast. For anyone going out of town, may your travels be safe — tomorrow I’m headed down to North Carolina, looking forward to spending time with family and friends. In that regard, from my family to yours, I want to wish you all peaceful and happy holidays!

LEGO Tournament Time-Lapse Video

December 15th, 2008

Message from the Dean

December 15th, 2008

Although the semester is winding down it’s almost impossible to discern any decline in activity amongst SEAS’ faculty, staff and students. Exciting, forward-thinking events were in no short supply last week.

This past Tuesday’s “Two Schools, One Mission” symposium –hosted by myself and Joanna Olmstead — provided a wonderful opportunity to see first-hand how truly interconnected we are across academic disciplines here at the U of R. From energy and environmental problems, to pressing economic, social and cultural issues, addressing current challenges in these areas increasingly demands the combined efforts of engineers, humanists, artists, and scientists of all types. Collaboration across disciplinary boundaries will help push our research and education in compelling, novel and ultimately successful directions. The symposium was a timely celebration of our shared dedication to strengthening the ongoing partnership between the School of Arts and Sciences and SEAS. As the University moves forward with this long-term strategic plan, I would certainly appreciate any thoughts you might have.

Last week came to a close with another important SEAS related gathering, the First Annual Social and Strategic Summit of the Rochester Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, which took place in Goergen Hall on Friday afternoon. With over 100 companies in Rochester focused on or involved with biotechnology– an impressive number — this was an event aimed at bringing together local practitioners, faculty, and students in order to discuss employment opportunities along with new avenues for technical innovation in areas where engineering and medicine cross paths. The public summit included poster presentations by researchers here at the U of R, as well as from the Rochester Institute of Technology and several upstate biomedical companies. Topics included the use of ultrafast lasers to see inside the body, new methods to grow skin and bone for healing, development of new ways to predict how brain tumors spread, and methods to gauge the growth of lung tumors more accurately. Clearly having a School of Medicine across the street from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences is a catalyst for our multi-disciplinary research efforts.

Another noteworthy item from the past week was President-elect Barack Obama’s reported choice of Nobel physics laureate Steven Chu as Secretary of the Department of Energy. As an alumnus and current trustee of the U of R, Chu stands as an exemplar of our University’s continuing commitment, through both its faculty and students, to work toward the advancement of sustainable energy technologies and policies. With Chu as energy secretary — an individual long dedicated to finding solutions to the causes and effects of global warming — SEAS will have a significant opportunity to be at the forefront of next generation energy research and technology development. Look for Chu to be appointed later this afternoon.

On the student side of things, I’d also like to mention the outstanding work of several of our SEAS’ seniors. Samantha Ruiz, Howard Kanter, and Jordan Parker, all chemical engineering undergraduates, have been working together on “Creating the Foundations of a Sustainability Consulting Firm,” through the Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year (KEY). The group’s mission is to solidify the concept of sustainability, which they’ve defined as: “A smart use of resources that will enable sufficient resource use in the future. This encompasses: wise behavioral use of resources, energy efficient technology, and low environmental impact.” In the next year and a half, the KEY group will work with campus offices and local Rochester companies to create a sound sustainability assessment, which will serve as a measure to help companies become sustainable. Personally it’s great to see the high level of commitment of the SEAS’ community, and in particular our undergraduates, in pursuit of sustainable practices.

Finally, as a follow-up to an item in my post from several weeks ago, I wanted to draw everyone’s attention to the huge success of the fourth annual Finger Lakes FIRST LEGO League Tournament Series, which took place last Sunday here at the U of R. We had a turnout of 33 student teams from the Rochester region. Altogether there were approximately 1,000 people in attendance, including 100 or so volunteers from the UR and general community who helped out with the tournament. To that end I’d like to personally acknowledge the planning committee for all of their hard work throughout the year planning the tournament series. Many thanks to Jack Mottley, Lisa Norwood, John Ballou, Rosemary Boyd Parker, Celia Palmer, Christina Pero, Sally Christodoulou, Elayne Stewart, Ray Mulgrew, and Rick Bryant! The theme of this year’s competition was climate change, and student participants — ages 9 to 14 — were asked to design Lego robots and make presentations geared toward addressing current environmental crises. For more details, you can check out the Democrat & Chronicle’s coverage, as well as a cool time-lapse video covering the entire event from set up to take down. With outside sponsorship coming from local companies like Xerox, Bausch & Lomb, RG&E, FRA Engineering, and Advantage Credit Union, it’s hard to mistake Rochester and the U of R’s commitment not only to bringing greater attention to climate change, but also to instilling the next generation of students with a passion for engineering. I sincerely thank all of the students, staff, and faculty that made it possible for us to provide an engineering experience for young minds. Good stuff all around!Next week, the last of the fall semester, looks to be somewhat relaxed event-wise as faculty and students scramble to wrap up course and degree related affairs. In that regard, I want to wish all of our students good luck on their upcoming final exams, course projects, and presentations. Your hard work will undoubtedly pay off, and remember, the holiday break is right around the corner!

As always, don’t hesitate to shoot your news or ideas my way. And most importantly, enjoy the final days of the semester.

Message from the Dean

December 8th, 2008

I just returned from the sunny coast of California on Friday evening, welcomed today by the majesty of a ground covered in snow here in Rochester. During my trip to California, I met with numerous alums of our University, most of whom are graduates of SEAS, actively contributing to society in professions ranging from venture capitalists to corporate leaders. As always, I am impressed by the talent of our students, past and present, as well as their appreciation for the quality of education that they received here at the U of R. Some have gone on to receive law degrees, or MBAs, but in every case, they conveyed the relative ease with which they were able to apply their analytical thinking skills in their further education and profession. A degree in engineering is truly a degree that serves all professions and a lifetime of learning!

Having returned to a calendar full of holiday events, I am reminded that the holiday season is in full swing, but still — it’s not too early to talk about the fast-approaching spring semester. And I am happy to say that, as usual, SEAS students will have a whole host of course options from which to choose as they plan the second half of this academic year, including two brand-new ones announced recently.

Building Engineering and Technology in Antiquity will cover the challenges that come with the design, construction, maintenance, and collapse of major buildings and other structures, from ancient to pre-industrial times. Not only does this course sound downright fascinating — it will draw case studies of relevant monuments from Classical Greece and Rome, and the Middle Ages — it, too, will afford our students here at SEAS an opportunity to meet and collaborate with humanities and social-sciences majors who surely also will be drawn to the subject matter.

The second is Technical Entrepreneurship, which will be taught by Don Golini, president of QED Technologies, Inc., a 12-year-old optics-polishing company based here in Rochester. Students will learn how to analyze the viability of a new business concept, and develop a business plan. Given the obvious ingenuity and self-discipline of our students, it seems smart to stoke the entrepreneurial fire I’m certain burns in many of them.

And while I’m on the topic of exceptional students, I’d like to congratulate SEAS sophomore Benjamin Yezer, who was recently named a 2008 Iota Book Award recipient. Benjamin is one of just 18 sophomores — out of 1,100 — being recognized for their scholarly achievement, demonstration of humanistic values, involvement in co-curricular activities, and leadership potential, during their first year at the University. Benjamin was chosen by Phi Beta Kappa’s Iota Chapter, which is the University’s oldest honor society, for his outstanding academic record and the glowing nomination letters written on his behalf by professors, administrators, and staff. Benjamin and his fellow honorees, including SEAS’ Greg Bentsen, who I mentioned in a previous e-memo, were recognized during a formal ceremony last week. Congratulations!

You all can probably tell by now how important I think it is for everyone in the SEAS community to feel connected, not only to the school and University, but also to each other. These relationships foster scholarship and opportunity — plus, they make class and work more fruitful and fun. Of course, in this age of the online network, one need not always hold a face-to-face meeting in order to build such a relationship. I encourage you to check out and perhaps even become a “fan” of the SEAS Facebook page, which is proving to be a great place for finding and sharing the sort of information we all care about. You can find it by searching “UR School of Engineering and Applied Sciences” using the “Groups” prompt.

I’ll end this week’s post with a nice treat: a chance to buy an American Society of Mechanical Engineers Pumpkin Launch commemorative T-shirt! We had such fun that Halloween afternoon, watching as competitors propelled their pumpkins into mid-air in the name of science and engineering knowledge. Why not toast it with a new T-shirt? Proceeds benefit ASME; they are available for $10 apiece in the Mechanical Engineering office, or Hopeman 233. I, for one, am hard pressed to come up with a more appropriate holiday gift for the SEAS supporter (or gourd guru) in your life!

Message from the Dean

November 24th, 2008

I’ll begin this post with some exciting news about the University’s Nanosystems Initiative, a multi-million dollar nanotechnology center that’s expected to be fully operational come summer, and will focus on the development of fuel-cell and biosensor research. Congresswoman Louise Slaughter announced last week she had secured $1.6 million in federal funding for the initiative, bringing her total support of the project to $4.4 million over the last three years.

The money will support research from disciplines across the University’s campuses, as scientists and engineers from six departments, including the medical center, are spearheading the project. Work now underway at the center — which is housed in Wilmot and Goergen halls — is leading the development of efficient fuel cells for powering homes and cars, and of optical nanotechnology for detecting target molecules (which is of great interest to homeland security experts). And in coming years, the initiative will focus on enhancing the efficiency of solar cells, derived from research being conducted as we speak by engineers in the Institute of Optics and the Department of Chemical Engineering.

SEAS is playing a significant role in our University’s efforts in the basic research required to advance new technologies through the Nanosystems Initiative. As Rep. Slaughter said last week, “The University of Rochester continues to lead the way in advancing exciting new technologies that will help address the nation’s energy, security, and health needs.”

SEAS made news on the student level last week, too. Jonathan Ortloff, a senior from Plattsburgh and a dual-major in organ performance at the Eastman School and engineering sciences at the College, was featured with several of his U of R colleagues on “Need to Know,” a television program broadcast by WXXI. The segment was centered on social entrepreneurship and Jonathan’s status as a Kauffman Entrepreneurial Year (KEY) scholar. When he’s not honing his skills as a musician, Jonathan is researching fluid dynamics, acoustics, and other fundamental physics of sound. And as a KEY scholar, he has been studying an organ built by the famed Æolian-Skinner company and installed in 1937 in Strong Auditorium. (The instrument has been silent since at least the 1970s.) Jonathan’s interdisciplinary experience here is part of what so sharply distinguishes the University of Rochester from its peers — and which sets our graduates apart after they enter the professional world.

Through ground-breaking research, education, and service provided by our faculty, students, and staff, SEAS generates some great news, week after week. To that end, I’d like now to announce the arrival last week of a new University Communications staffer, Evan Wendel. As the office’s engineering writer, Evan will gather and promote SEAS’ many compelling stories, in hopes of garnering both local and national media attention for our tremendous faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Evan recently completed his graduate degree in media studies at MIT, where his thesis research focused on the transformative potentials of social networks in today’s music industry. Coupling his background in media with a bachelor’s degree in physics, Evan hopes that as a science writer he will be able to not only learn about and report on our cutting-edge research, but also explore ways in which social media might benefit the work of our faculty and students. Welcome aboard, Evan!

Because the week ahead is an abbreviated one, I won’t be posting next Monday, Dec. 1. But please keep your news and ideas coming — and in the meantime, from my family to all of yours, here’s wishing you a joyous and restful Thanksgiving weekend!

Message from the Dean

November 17th, 2008

As you may recall, I began last week’s note with a few words on the importance of global collaboration; our personal relationships and professional research are, after all, made more meaningful by outside insights and perspectives. We can learn much from the world beyond our campus, I wrote. Well, this week, I have the great pleasure of reflecting on our role as the influencer, and on the indelible impact we as an institution have on that world around us.

It was announced Thursday that SEAS’ Center for Electronic Imaging Systems, or CEIS, had a record-breaking fiscal year in 2007-2008, making what can be considered a $134.5 million economic impact on New York State. What CEIS does is match researchers here at the University and other local institutions with New York State businesses that then develop new technologies for commercialization. It truly is a win-win-win: Our faculty members get to further their ideas; the participating businesses are able to save on research costs; and the region sees new jobs, revenues, and capital improvements.

Right now, CEIS is behind 30 in-progress projects across the region — think space-faring telescopes, digital cameras, medical devices, even “remote sensing technology” that can be applied in such things as remote-pilot military drones and guides for planetary probes. Talk about impacting the world — and universe — around us!

Of course, evidence of SEAS’ reach doesn’t lie in CEIS alone. Chemical Engineering Professor David Wu recently was awarded $1.75 million in U.S. Department of Energy funding for research he’s conducting on the production of ethanol from biological waste products. Prof. Wu is recognized as one of this research area’s foremost scientists, and he is using state-of-the-art genomic approaches to enhance the abilities of a microorganism to produce fuels from farm and forest residues like grass clippings, cornstalks, and wood chips.

Energy experts expect ethanol from biomass to replace at least 30 percent of the national gasoline consumption for transportation by 2030, and hydrogen promises to be used in fuel cells with high efficiency. And deriving these energy sources from biomass makes them renewable, and reduces carbon dioxide — plus, it eliminates competition with food supplies. I am beyond proud that SEAS is home to such world-changing — and indeed, world-saving — work.

In other great faculty news, Jim Zavislan, Associate Professor in the Institute of Optics, has been elected fellow of the Optical Society of America. Such affiliations of course enhance SEAS’ standing in that international research community I referenced above, and they also reinforce the outstanding credibility and respect our faculty enjoy. Congratulations, Prof. Zavislan.

One event I’m really looking forward to is the upcoming University of Rochester Fuel Cell Symposium, which promises to deliver a fascinating program. Featuring talks from six widely recognized fuel-cell researchers from across the field, the Dec. 8 event, to be held in the Gowen Room of Wilson Commons, will begin with coffee and pastries at 9:30a.m. and end with closing remarks at 3:30 p.m. (A buffet lunch will be served.) I encourage anyone who’s interested in this emerging science to attend, and I also hope you’ll stop into the Bridge Lounge, also in Wilson Commons, for a graduate-student poster session from noon to 1:30 p.m. (In addition to taking in some great lectures and discussions, attendees will have the opportunity to tour the recently commissioned fuel cell fabrication and testing laboratory in Gavett Hall.) Register by Friday, Nov. 28, by contacting Erica Strawbridge at, or (585) 275-4111; off-campus visitors should request a free parking pass when they RSVP.

And finally, I bring to you a worthwhile — and for many of us, nostalgic — volunteer opportunity. The First LEGO League Championship coming up on Sunday, Dec. 7, needs you! The event, in which middle-schoolers learn about engineering by playing and building with LEGO robots, runs solely on the time and effort of generous volunteers. You’ll get lunch and a free T-shirt, and all you’ll need to do to prepare is attend a short training session the Saturday evening before, on Dec. 6. You can sign up for a morning-, afternoon-, or all-day shift by visiting and clicking on the folder icon. Then check the “Account Name and Password” box, typing in “volunteer” as the name and “2008” as the password. Login and fill in the requested information, and eventually a volunteer coordinator will contact you to see what sorts of things you’d like to do to help out. This is sure to be a fun and rewarding experience for all.

Enjoy your week, everyone. Drop me a line or stop by for a visit if there’s anything you’d like to discuss, including your ideas for future posts.

Message from the Dean

November 10th, 2008

Given the number of hours we spend here each week studying (and socializing), it may at times seem as though the University of Rochester, or even the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, is its own discreet world. However, recently an international contingent of scientists converged on campus, reminding us of the tremendous value of global collaboration.

The Department of Biomedical Engineering, with support from the departments of Pediatrics and Pathology at the medical center, hosted a conference Oct. 25 and 26 at the Robert B. Goergen Hall for Biomedical Engineering and Optics. The topic of the event, which dates back to 1958, was red blood cells — that is, membrane transport, physical characteristics and measurements, erythrocyte development, and so on — and it featured 23 talks and 25 poster presentations by experts from Europe, Japan, Canada, and across the U.S. (The conference honored longtime attendee Dr. Philip Knauf, a Biochemistry and Biophysics professor from the University who died in June 2006 of lymphoma.)

Hosting conferences in leading fields of research offer wonderful opportunities for broadening perspectives and sharing scholarship, and I’m eager for SEAS to continue enhancing its role as a leading player on the world’s engineering and science stage.

That said, I know we’re all well aware of the tremendous talent we’ve got right here at SEAS — great thinkers like my predecessor, Dean Emeritus Kevin Parker, who will give a talk at 4 p.m. this Friday, Nov. 14, in the Class of 1962 Auditorium at the medical center. He will speak about elastography, a novel form of imaging being used to detect tumors. (Dean Emeritus Parker was one of the founders of this discipline in the late 1980s.) Elastography takes into account the biomechanical properties — stiffness, for example — of tissue, so that along with the high-tech hardware found in today’s radiology suite that gauges things like position and shape, doctors can learn some truly life-saving information, including the likelihood of a tumor’s malignancy.

And speaking of deans giving talks, I attended the ASME International Mechanical Congress this past week and gave a keynote address entitled “From Aircraft to Biomolecules: Crossing Disciplinary Boundaries and Dimensional Scales.” One of the highlights of my time spent at the conference was sharing lunch with prior SEAS Mechanical Engineering faculty member, Dick Benson. Dick currently serves as Dean of the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, an institution where I spent a great deal of time studying many years ago. Dick clearly remembers his time here at the U of R fondly, and we discussed the many challenges facing engineering educators and researchers in the years to come. He asked that I extend a warm hello to his fellow colleagues here in SEAS.

I’d like now to congratulate Greg Bentsen, a sophomore in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department. Greg was recently recognized by the Iota Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa with the Iota Book Award. The University’s chapter, with support from the College, annually honors select students for having achieved “exceptionally high GPAs” in their freshmen year. Other criteria for the award include humanistic values, co-curricular involvement, and leadership potential. Great job, Greg. Here’s to the next three years of your University career!

So far, I’ve received some great feedback on these e-memos. Folks have told me they add to the sense of community around SEAS — and that was exactly the goal. Please, if you have any thoughts on these weekly notes, whether they be positive or simply constructive criticism, keep them coming. Also, keep us posted on the important news and events of interest to others in the SEAS community. Have a pleasant and productive week!