Penn Engineering is home to distinguished, world class faculty recognized as leading authorities in their research communities. They are internationally renowned for their pioneering research, in demand as consultants and advisors to major corporations and governments worldwide, and are innovative educators at the University of Pennsylvania.
Scholarly Excellence: The George H. Heilmeier Award
The George H. Heilmeier Faculty Award for Excellence in Research was established by Penn Engineering for the purpose of recognizing excellence in scholarly activities of the faculty. Named in honor of George H. Heilmeier, it recognizes his extraordinary research career, his leadership in technical innovation and public service, and his loyal and steadfast support of Penn Engineering.
Dr. Vijay Kumar, winner of the 2012-2013 Heilmeier Award, is UPS Foundation Professor and Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania. Kumar studies collective behaviors in biological and robotic systems. He and his group design novel architectures, create abstractions for systems of interacting individuals, and develop new algorithms for cooperating robots. The overarching themes in his research include modeling nature and developing bio-inspired architectures and algorithms, understanding group/individual dynamics, and the design and composition of controllers for robust, scaleable autonomous systems. Kumar's key challenges include operation in unstructured, dynamic environments, integration of control, communication and perception, and scaling down to smaller sizes with limited actuation, sensing, and computational resources.
Dr. Karen Winey, winner of the 2011-2012 Heilmeier Award, is professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Pennsylvania with a secondary appointment in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. Winey’s research interests include both polymer nanocomposites and ion-containing polymers. In nanocomposites, she designs and fabricates polymer nanocomposites containing carbon nanotubes and metal nanowires with the aim of understanding how to improve their mechanical, thermal, and in particular, electrical conductivity and resistive switching properties. In ion-containing polymers, including block copolymers and polymers with ionic liquids, Winey combines imaging and scattering methods to provide unprecedented insights into their morphologies.
Dr. Christopher Chen, winner of the 2010-2011 Heilmeier Award, is the Skirkanich Professor of Innovation in the Department of Bioengineering. Chosen for his fundamental contributions in the study and design of cellular microenvironments, Dr. Chen's research includes the application of microfabrication and nanotechnology to cell and tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. His lab has developed approaches to control the nanoscale adhesive interactions between cells and their surrounding scaffolds, and uses them to control cell function. Chris is particularly engaged in understanding how to engineer stem cell function and tissue vascularization, and the relationship between tissue architecture and tissue function.
We encourage you to visit the list of all our outstanding George H. Heilmeier Award recipients.
Interdisciplinary Excellence: PIK Professors
Faculty positions established by the Penn Compact, known as “Penn Integrates Knowledge” (PIK) professorships, are part of the university-wide initiative to recruit exceptional faculty members to Penn whose research, teaching and service exemplify the integration of knowledge across distant disciplines. Integrating knowledge is one of the leading initiatives of the Penn Compact, President Amy Gutmann’s three-point initiative to propel Penn from "Excellence to Eminence” and to provide the University with the resources to address some of the most complex and urgent questions facing the world today.
Penn Engineering is home to two of these sought-after joint appointments, Christopher B. Murray, Richard Perry University Professor, and Robert Ghrist, Andrea Mitchell University Professor.
A world-leader in nanotechnology, Dr. Christopher Murray is the Richard Perry University Professor and holds joint appointmentsin the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and in the Department of Chemistry in the School of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Murray’s pioneering research includes the development of nanocrystalline materials - artificial atoms (nano crystals or quantum dots) that self-assemble into devices with completely new multi-functionalities.
One of the best applied mathematicians in the world, Dr. Robert Ghrist has been appointed as the Andrea Mitchell University Professor, and is Penn Engineering’s second PIK professor. His appointment is between the Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering and the Department of Mathematics in the School of Arts and Sciences. The theme of his research is in applying advanced topological methods in engineering problems such ensuring coverage in sensor networks or multiple robot coordination, to hydrodynamics on Riemannian manifolds or bifurcation theory.
Our faculty members have received numerous prestigious awards and fellowships from top engineering, science and technology organizations like:
National Academy of Engineering (NAE)
IEEE (formerly the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
American Physical Society (APS)
American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME)
Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES)
National Science Foundation (NSF)