The Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Dean’s Chair in Engineering was established in 2006 by Eric E. Schmidt, chairman and chief executive officer of Google, to honor the Torgersens for their many years of service to Virginia Tech. Paul Torgersen was dean of the College of Engineering from 1970 to 1990 and president of the university from 1993 to 2000. Torgersen died in 2015.
The dean’s chair provides discretionary funds for engineering deans to use in developing outstanding academic programs. Ross will become the second engineering dean to hold the chair, succeeding Richard Benson, who left Virginia Tech last year to become the president of the University of Texas at Dallas.
Ross currently serves as dean of engineering and information technology at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). When she becomes dean of the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech, she will hold tenured appointments in the departments of chemical engineering and engineering education.
Since joining the UMBC faculty in 1995, Ross has served in various roles, including chair of chemical, biochemical, and environmental engineering, and supported inter-institutional research initiatives as a special assistant to the provost.
Her research focus centers on the role of fluid mechanics in infection formation in the cardiovascular system. During her career, Ross has received $12.9 million in external funding with a personal share of $9.97 million.
Her grant activity includes a $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation/Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings (NSF/DRL) for Engineering Teacher Pedagogy: Using INSPIRES to Support Integration of Engineering Design into Science and Technology Classrooms, and a $2.97 million NSF/DRL grant titled “An Examination of Science and Technology Teachers’ Conceptual Learning through Concept-Based Engineering Professional Development.”
Ross is the principal investigator leading the INcreasing Student Participation, Interest, and Recruitment in Engineering and Science (INSPIRES) K-12 initiative. The program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation, partners with Baltimore County Schools to develop and implement an innovative curriculum that exposes high-school students to engineering earlier in their educational careers through existing science and technology classes.
In October, Ross was elected to the executive committee of the Global Engineering Dean's Council, where she will serve a three-year term and work closely with engineering deans from around the world to advance engineering education, research, and service globally.
Ross is a Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. In 2013, she received the American Council on Education fellowship, the nation's premier higher-education leadership development program preparing senior leaders to serve American colleges and universities.
Ross holds a bachelor's degree from Purdue and a doctoral degree from Rice University, both in chemical engineering.