Alyssa Panitch, Edward Teller Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of California, Davis, has been selected as the new chair of the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University.
Panitch currently serves as executive associate dean of academic personnel and planning in the College of Engineering at UC Davis. The position oversees the merit and promotion process and all matters related to faculty and academic affairs, including faculty and academic personnel hiring.
She will begin her new role leading Coulter BME on July 1.
“Alyssa represents many of the characteristics that define Georgia Tech and Emory — she’s an outstanding researcher with a commitment to entrepreneurism,” said Raheem Beyah, dean of Georgia Tech’s College of Engineering and Southern Company Chair. “She also brings years of leadership from universities across the nation, making her the ideal person to lead Coulter BME, one of the nation’s top-ranked biomedical engineering programs.”
Panitch has spent the last six years at UC Davis. She served as chair of UC Davis’ Department of Biomedical Engineering from 2016 to 2019 before being named to the engineering leadership team.
As Coulter BME chair, she will lead a unique public-private partnership that combines the resources of a highly respected private medical school and a top-ranked public engineering college.
“Alyssa is an innovator and a strong leader,” said Vikas P. Sukhatme, dean of the Emory School of Medicine. “These qualities combined with her research expertise will enhance our ability to tackle the big problems impacting human health.”
Panitch’s research focuses on the design of biopolymers that improve tissue healing and regeneration. Her lab focuses on intracellular and extracellular approaches to direct molecular and cellular processes with a goal of limiting scar tissue and promoting tissue repair.
“I am incredibly honored to be chosen for this position, as I’ve admired Georgia Tech and Emory’s BME research for as long as I can remember,” Panitch said. “I am very excited to work with the leadership at the two institutions, in addition to the faculty, students, and staff, to help advance the vision and build upon the program’s tremendous strengths.”
Panitch’s career in higher education has included positions at Arizona State University, the University of Zurich, and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Prior to UC Davis, Panitch spent more than 10 years at Purdue. She was the Leslie A. Geddes Professor in Biomedical Engineering, while also serving as vice provost for Faculty Affairs. Her Purdue career also included four years as associate head of the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.
Panitch is a fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineers (AIMBE), and the National Academy of Inventors. She also serves as secretary and treasurer on AIMBE’s executive board and is the editor for the Journal of Colloids and Surfaces B: Biointerfaces.
Panitch received bachelor’s degrees from Smith College (biochemistry) and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst (chemical engineering). She completed her Ph.D. in polymer science and engineering from the University of Massachusetts.
Machelle Pardue has served as interim chair of Coulter BME since August, when former Chair Susan Margulies was appointed head of the Engineering Directorate at the National Science Foundation. Pardue will return to her role as the Department’s associate chair for faculty development.
“I’m incredibly grateful for Machelle’s dedication and assistance this academic year,” Beyah said. “Serving as an interim chair is always a challenge, especially when leading a program that spans two universities. Her leadership to support the Department’s students, faculty, and staff has been invaluable.
“I’m also thankful to the selection committee, which was co-chaired by Georgia Tech’s Don Webster and Emory’s Bob Taylor. This group of faculty, staff, and students from both campuses identified and evaluated a strong, national pool of diverse candidates.”