Jennifer Wayne has been appointed head of Virginia Tech’s Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics in the College of Engineering, effective Aug. 10, 2019.

Wayne comes to Virginia Tech from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she has been a faculty member in the departments of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopaedic Surgery since 1991. Wayne currently serves as the associate chair of biomedical engineering and also leads the Orthopaedic Research Laboratory.

“Jennifer’s teaching and research expertise effortlessly bridge the gap between theoretical and applied mechanics, biomedical engineering, and the health sciences,” said Julia M. Ross, the Paul and Dorothea Torgersen Dean of Engineering. “During her time at Virginia Commonwealth University, she has not only distinguished herself as a talented scholar in the field of orthopaedic biomechanics, but she has also been instrumental in the establishment of several key academic programs and practices. We are delighted to welcome her leadership and experience to the college.”

Pamela VandeVord, the N. Waldo Harrison Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, has led the department as interim head since July 2016. As the director of the Traumatic Nerves Technologies Laboratory, her research investigates various aspects of neurotrauma caused by blast overpressure exposure. VandeVord will serve as chair of the department’s new biomedical engineering undergraduate degree program, the first cohort of which will begin this fall.

“I would like to thank Pam for her dedicated leadership over these last several years,” said Ross. “Her efforts have positioned the department for future growth and continued success.”

Throughout Wayne’s tenure at Virginia Commonwealth University, she has been an important figure in the growth of the university’s program offerings in biomedical engineering, specifically the undergraduate program. Wayne helped establish the program’s curriculum and has been active in its accreditation process through the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology Inc. The Department of Biomedical Engineering now has more than 300 students in its undergraduate program with another 50-plus enrolled in graduate degree offerings, including master’s, doctoral, and a joint M.D./Ph.D. program in partnership with the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine.

Wayne’s research in orthopaedic biomechanics focuses on experimental, computational, and theoretical models for injury prevention, surgical procedures, and various injury treatment methods. Through her joint appointment in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, she worked closely with physicians to create a research training program for orthopaedic residents and fellows through which basic science research directly informed clinical and surgical practice. Her work has received extensive funding from multiple sources, including the National Institutes of Health and a variety of industry partners.

An enthusiastic educator, Wayne teaches every semester at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Her course offerings include biomechanics, finite element analysis, and various topics in physiology and anatomy.

“It’s truly an honor for me to join the Virginia Tech Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, especially at this point in the department’s history,” said Wayne. “I think we are entering a transition phase where we’ll see explosive growth. Not only is the undergraduate program in biomedical engineering just beginning, but the engineering mechanics program is a very strong program with a long history. These two fields bring their own advantages to the table, and there’s great potential for overlap and application between them.”

For her significant contributions to the field of bioengineering, Wayne received the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) H.R. Lissner Medal in 2019, making her the first female recipient of the award since its inception in 1977. She was recognized as an ASME Fellow in 2007 and as an American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering Fellow in 2004.

Wayne is a Virginia Tech alumna, having earned her bachelor’s degree in engineering science and mechanics in 1983, summa cum laude. She received her master’s in biomedical engineering from Tulane University in 1984 and a Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of California, San Diego in 1990. 

Written by Emily Roediger