Professors Timothy Deming and Adrienne Lavine were appointed as chairs of the Departments of Bioengineering and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, respectively, effective July 1, 2006

By Marlys Amundson

“We are privileged to have strong, dynamic faculty leading our departments, and I am pleased to add Tim and Adrienne to their ranks,” said Vijay K. Dhir, dean of the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. “I am certain that both will guide their departments well with integrity and vision.”

Deming received his PhD in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1993, and joined UCLA in 2004 as a professor in the departments of bioengineering and chemistry. Previously, he was a professor in the materials and chemistry departments at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

“I wasn’t expecting to become chair so soon after arriving at UCLA, but the high quality of our faculty and their unanimous support made it the right decision for me,” said Deming. “We have a very good group of active, energetic young faculty, with a strong, cohesive focus in biomaterials. We’re a young department, which means we have a lot of work ahead of us – developing courses, building our research programs, recruiting talented students – but everyone is working together very effectively, and we have a strong undergraduate program with exceptional students.”

Deming’s lab is exploring new, practical chemical routes for the synthesis of biological and biomimetic materials, which can be prepared from renewable resources. By using techniques from both chemistry and biology to prepare synthetic materials with targeted properties, the researchers are leveraging strengths from both disciplines to forge exciting new approaches.

Asked about his plans for the future, Deming replied, “We’re finalizing the courses in our undergraduate curriculum. This is our first year with seniors, so we’ll be teaching all of the classes this year. We’re also working on raising our department’s profile in the bioengineering community. We recently hosted the UC Systemwide Bioengineering conference, which went very well, and are focusing on recruiting a widely-respected senior faculty member. Later this year, we are really looking forward to moving into the new engineering building. Having all of our faculty and laboratories in one location – not scattered throughout the engineering complex – will help build stronger collaborations within the department.”

Lavine, the first woman to serve as department chair in the School, has been part of the mechanical and aerospace engineering faculty since 1984, after receiving her PhD in mechanical engineering from University of California, Berkeley. In 2005-06, she served as chair of the UCLA Academic Senate.

“I am excited at the prospect of working with colleagues and staff to improve our department. The foundation that Tom Hahn established will make my job much easier, and I greatly appreciate his four years of service as chair,” said Lavine. “The responsibility of department chair is awe-inspiring, and I take the responsibility very seriously. There are a number of people in the department who would be very effective chairs, so I feel humbled to have been selected.”

Lavine’s field of research is heat transfer and her interests include the thermomechanical behavior of shape memory alloys, thermal aspects of manufacturing processes, and thermal control of nano-manufacturing systems.

When asked about her priorities as chair, Lavine responded, “The most important job of a department chair is to support the faculty, and to recruit excellent new faculty. We’re fortunate to have a really stellar faculty in place and are in a period of growth, so recruiting additional faculty in key areas is one of my primary goals. Another critical element to the department’s strength is our students, and we want to work even harder to attract top-caliber graduate students. I think our undergraduates are an underutilized resource; they’re great students with a lot of energy and we’d like to involve them more in the department and their own education. For instance, senior students could offer workshops to younger students on topics like the use of different computer software packages. Lastly, I want to make sure that we build on past efforts to strengthen ties with industry and increase our interaction with our industrial affiliates.”

She also is director of education and outreach for the UCLA Center for Scalable and Integrated Nanomanufacturing, an NSF-funded Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center at UCLA whose mandate is to establish an array of new nano-manufacturing technologies.