WPI Appoints New Department Head for Biology and Biotechnology

Contact: WPI Media Relations, +1-508-831-5706

Eric W. Overström has joined Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) as the new head of its Biology and Biotechnology Department. He succeeds Jill Rulfs, who is returning to teaching and research full time as an associate professor of biology and biotechnology. Overström came to WPI after holding academic positions at Tufts University in the Schools of Veterinary Medicine, Medicine and Dental Medicine, most recently in the Department of Biomedical Sciences.

As head of biology and biotechnology, Overström will work with the department to provide a solid foundation for undergraduate and graduate education in the life sciences at WPI. He will also expand and broaden the departmentís educational and research programs by forming interdisciplinary relationships among departments within WPI, and by actively pursuing similar collaborative partnerships with local and national biotechnology companies.

Overström, a Fulbright Scholar, is a developmental biologist who brings his research interests in cell/molecular biology of mammalian eggs and embryos, somatic cell cloning, and assisted reproductive technologies to WPI. His dedication and research in these fields has led to various patents -- landing his first patent in April 1999 and having three more pending.

"The life sciences have become one of the most dynamic areas of academic research," says John F. Carney III, WPI provost and vice president of academic affairs. "Eric Overströmís research has put him at the forefront in his field, and the expertise he brings to WPI will provide exciting opportunities for our graduate students and lead to valuable collaborations with other WPI faculty researchers."

During his more than 20 years at Tufts University, Overström served in the anatomy and cellular biology, and biomedical sciences departments teaching the bulk of his classes in cell biology, developmental biology, veterinary anatomy and biotechnology. He also was also affiliated with Tufts University School of Veterinarian Medicineís graduate program and is no stranger to WPI. While researching at Tufts, he mentored seven WPI undergraduate students working on their MQP projects in his lab, two of which went on to study veterinary medicine with Overström at Tufts.

Additionally, Overström has fostered successful research collaborations with key biotechnology companies at the local, national, and international level, and received various awards including Tufts Universityís Presidentís Award for Outstanding Achievement, and the Lauro F. Cavazos Award for Teaching Excellence. He is also a member of several scientific societies and associations including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Cell Biology, the International Embryo Transfer Society, and the Society for the Study of Reproduction.

Overström holds a B.A. in biology from the State University of New York at Oswego, as well as an M.S. in reproductive physiology and a Ph.D. in reproductive physiology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Harvard Medical School. He and his wife, Lori, reside in Grafton, Mass., with their children Mallory and Anders.