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Renowned Materials Scientist Winston Oluwole Soboyejo Named Bernard M. Gordon Dean of Engineering at WPI

Currently professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University, he is also chair of the African Scientific Committee of the Nelson Mandela Institute and former president and provost of the African University of Science and Technology

July 28, 2016
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WPI today announced that Winston Oluwole Soboyejo, a renowned materials scientist and engineer who is currently professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University, will join the university on Sept. 1 as the Bernard M. Gordon Dean of Engineering.

"Dr. Soboyejo's outstanding record of achievement in engineering research and academic leadership make him well suited to help lead WPI's six engineering departments," said Bruce Bursten, WPI's provost and senior vice president. "In addition, he brings to WPI impressive accomplishments in international development and a noteworthy track record in building global research and educational partnerships, achievements that resonate well with WPI's focus on preparing graduates who can use their engineering skills to solve important societal programs and our well-recognized leadership in global technological education."

Soboyejo is a materials scientist whose research focuses on biomaterials and the use of nanoparticles for the detection and treatment of disease, the mechanical properties of materials, and the use of materials science to promote global development. His current projects include the use of nanomaterials for targeting and treating cancer; a sheer assay technique that may be able to measure the mechanical properties of organelles in the cell; and the Global Development Network, which engages students in the United States and other nations in research, development, and educational initiatives that explore new approaches to providing energy, clean water, affordable housing, and education for people in the developing world.

Born in Palo Alto, Calif., Soboyejo grew up in western Nigeria, where his father was a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Lagos. He earned a BSc in engineering at Kings College in London and a PhD in materials science and metallurgy at the University of Cambridge before coming to the United States in 1988 to accept a position as a research scientist at McDonnell Douglas Research Laboratories in St. Louis, where he was also an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Missouri. He then worked as a principal research engineer at the Edison Welding Institute in Columbus, Ohio, before becoming an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and a faculty fellow in the Center for African Studies at The Ohio State University.

Between 1992 and 1999, Soboyejo was an assistant/associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Ohio State. In 1997-98 he spent a sabbatical year at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was a Visiting Associate Martin Luther King Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. He moved to Princeton University in 1999 as a professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and the Princeton Institute of Science and Technology of Materials (PRISM). In 2003 he founded the U.S./Africa Materials Institute at Princeton, one of six international materials institutes supported by the National Science Foundation. The institute, which Soboyejo directed until 2009, promotes collaborations between engineers and scientists in the United States and Africa who address materials challenges in healthcare, sustainable energy, and infrastructure.

Since 2004 Soboyejo has chaired the African Scientific Committee of the Nelson Mandela Institute, which was founded with the mission of bringing excellence in science and engineering to Sub-Saharan Africa. Among its goals is the establishment of a network of Pan-African research institutes modeled on the elite Indian Institutes of Technology. The first of these centers of excellence, founded in 2007, was the African University of Science and Technology (AUST) in Abuja, Nigeria. Soboyejo served as vice president for academics, research and innovation at UST from January 2011 to January 2012, and as president and provost of the university from January 2012 to August 2014.

He is the author or co-author of four textbooks and more than 360 papers in peer-reviewed journals. He has had over 180 presentations published in conference proceedings and has edited 20 conference proceedings and journal special issues. He is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the Materials Society of Nigeria, and the Nigerian Academy of Science.

About the Bernard M. Gordon Deanship

Established in 2009 and endowed by a gift from Bernard. M. Gordon, the inventor and entrepreneur who founded Analogic Corporation and NeuroLogica Corporation, the Gordon Deanship was one of three academic deanships established that year to oversee WPI's 14 academic departments and to help advance the university's undergraduate and graduate academic programs and its research enterprise (the others are the Peterson Family Dean of Arts and Sciences and the Dean of the Robert A. Foisie School of Business). Gordon, known for his inventive mind, his extraordinary record of technological leadership and business development, and his passionate views on engineering education, is the namesake for the National Academy of Engineering's Barnard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education, which was awarded to WPI this year.