The Virginia Tech College of Engineering has named Pamela VandeVord as its associate dean for research and graduate studies. VandeVord began on Sept. 10, 2020.

In VandeVord’s new role within the College of Engineering leadership team, she will work to further the college’s research mission and goals, as outlined in its strategic plan. VandeVord will work closely with leadership from Virginia Tech engineering and the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation, as well as faculty, departments, institutes, and external constituents to move the college’s research priorities forward toward targeted milestones.

“I am excited for the opportunity to collaborate with a wide array of energetic, talented, and dedicated faculty, administrators, students, alumni, and sponsors,” said VandeVord. “The opportunity to create change on a larger scale and the ability to utilize my knowledge and skills as a researcher, scholar, and leader to influence and improve the very fabric of our college’s research enterprise will be very fulfilling to me.”

VandeVord is the N. Waldo Harrison Professor of Biomedical Engineering. Her leadership roles at Virginia Tech include serving as the interim department head for the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics from 2016 to 2019 and as the chair for the biomedical engineering undergraduate program since 2011. She is jointly appointed as a professor in the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Science and is the head of the Traumatic Nerve Technologies Laboratory.

"We are thrilled to have Pam as an associate dean in the College of Engineering," said Julia M. Ross, the Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Dean of Engineering. "She brings a wealth of experience as an active researcher, graduate student mentor, and former department head to her new role. Pam’s skillset, combined with her expertise in bioengineering, provide a great combination to lead the implementation of our strategic goals around research and graduate studies."

As a researcher, VandeVord has focused on laying the long-term groundwork for the diagnosis and treatment of our nation’s veterans returning from military combat with neurological difficulties due to exposure to blasts. Her research focuses on the complex mechanisms of blast injury to the brain, with a thrust to understand the persistent neurobehavioral and neuropathological consequences of this traumatic event.

VandeVord is a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers awardee and has authored two book chapters and 80 peer-reviewed publications. Her work has led to a total award amount of more than $39 million with a personal share of $9 million in research funding from a diverse portfolio of sponsors, including the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the U.S. Army and Navy. In addition to her work at Virginia Tech, VandeVord has an affiliation as a health scientist at the Salem Veterans Affairs Medical Center’s Research Service.

VandeVord earned her bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University and her master’s and doctoral degrees from Wayne State University.

VandeVord is preceded in the role of associate dean for research and graduate studies by mechanical engineering professor Jack Lesko, who served in the role from May 2011 to August 2020. Lesko provided leadership to faculty groups for multidisciplinary and innovative research efforts and supported the graduate program through efforts in recruiting, retention, and leadership in new graduate degree program development, as well as in oversight of policies affecting graduate student matriculation and growth as technical leaders and professionals.

"We are thankful for Jack’s hard work and dedication as associate dean for research and graduate studies," Ross said. "He accomplished a great deal over his nine-year term that will live on in the college. Many of our faculty and students have benefited from his leadership around entrepreneurship and innovation, his support in the development of large proposals, and his creation of professional development programs focused on the mentor-mentee relationship. Of particular note is his commitment to diversity and inclusion that led to the creation of the New Horizons Graduate Program."

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