Founding Faculty Member Takes Helm in Department of Biomedical Engineering

Founding Faculty Member Takes Helm in Department of Biomedical Engineering
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An interdisciplinary researcher who helped found the Department of Biomedical Engineering in 2012 has been selected as its new department head.

Jeffrey Wolchok, also well-known for his strong record as a student mentor, will assume his new duties July 1.

"I am very excited to have this opportunity," he said. "The Department of Biomedical Engineering has had a fantastic first 10 years. I look forward to helping our students, staff and faculty sustain this success as we continue to grow and do great things."

The department doubled its number of students over the first decade, enrolling nearly 200 last fall.

Wolchok completed his Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of Utah and did post-doctoral work at its Keck Center for Tissue Engineering. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Davis.

Since joining the U of A in 2011, Wolchok has directed an interdisciplinary research program studying the design, development and evaluation of extracellular matrix biomaterials. His research focuses on treatment strategies for damaged muscle, and he has also made discoveries related to traumatic brain injury.

Wolchok succeeds Raj Rao, who has led the department since 2016. Rao will continue to serve on the biomedical engineering faculty.

Raj Rao

Rao was named in 2021 as a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

Dean Kim Needy praised Rao's contributions as a scholar and leader. During his tenure, the department has attracted some of the most talented faculty members in the field, nurtured them and increased the department's volume and quality of research, she said.

Under Rao's leadership, three biomedical faculty members received the prestigious National Science Foundation CAREER Award, which supports early career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic and research role models.

"Raj has hired the best and helped them flourish," Needy said. "I also commend his unwavering commitment to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, running throughout the department, from students, staff, faculty and alumni.  His tireless efforts on this front serve as an example in the college, across campus and throughout the profession."


Jennifer Cook, director of communications
College of Engineering


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