Raffaella De Vita, professor of biomedical engineering and mechanics at Virginia Tech, has been elected Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Fellowship is the highest elected grade of the society’s membership, being conferred only to members with outstanding engineering achievements. De Vita was honored for her significant contributions as an internationally recognized expert in biomechanics.

In 2006, De Vita joined Virginia Tech’s biomedical engineering and mechanics department as a visiting assistant professor and as a tenure-track assistant professor one year later. She is currently the director of the STRETCH Lab

De Vita’s research focuses on characterizing the complex mechanical behavior of biological systems by using theoretical and experimental methods. In particular, over the past seven years, she has been working on advancing our limited understanding of female pelvic floor biomechanics.

Jeffrey McGuire, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering, works on tissue-level aspects of the project with De Vita. Collaborating with De Vita has given McGuire the opportunity to expand his skills in experimental mechanics and to grow both as a researcher and a mentor for other students.

“Dr. De Vita is an all-around excellent advisor," said McGuire. "Her vision and expertise in the field inspires innovation, and she always makes time to share that expertise with her students in the STRETCH Lab and in the classroom.”

Jeffrey McGuire
Jeffrey McGuire, a mechanical engineering doctoral student working in the STRETCH Lab, conducting experiments that simulate tearing of the pelvic organs. Barath Udayasuryan for Virginia Tech.

In 2012, De Vita earned the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government to outstanding scientists and engineers starting on their independent career path. At Virginia Tech, she received several awards for teaching, outreach, and excellence in access and inclusion. De Vita has also been a visiting professor at La Sapienza University in Rome, Italy.

De Vita received a mathematics degree from University of Naples II and both her master’s and Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh.

- Written by Laura Weatherford