Pamela VandeVord, the N. Waldo Harrison Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics at Virginia Tech, has been named a fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society. Fellowship is awarded to those who have demonstrated exceptional achievements, made significant contributions, and have extensive leadership in the biomedical engineering field, as described by the society.

VandeVord joined Virginia Tech’s biomedical engineering and mechanics department as an associate professor in 2011. While at Virginia Tech, she has served on committees, conducted high impact research, and mentored students, among her other achievements. She served as interim department head at BEAM from 2016 to 2019 and became the associate dean for research and graduate studies for the College of Engineering this year.

VandeVord is the director of the Traumatic Nerve Technologies Lab. In her research, she has aimed to lay 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 injury to the brain in an effort to understand the persistent neurobehavioral and neuropathological consequences of this traumatic event. VandeVord investigates fundamental questions around the mode of energy transfer to the brain during traumatic injuries as well as the consequent damage or disruptive mechanisms at cellular and molecular levels.

Throughout her years in research, VandeVord has afforded many students opportunities for experiential learning and has worked in interdisciplinary collaborative teams.

In addition to her leadership roles in research, VandeVord served as the undergraduate biomedical engineering program chair from 2011 to 2019 and was an integral part of forming the new biomedical engineering major in the College of Engineering.

“Dr. VandeVord was the lynchpin for starting this degree,” said Jennifer Wayne, department head of biomedical engineering and mechanics. “She established the curriculum, got it through university governance, and did all the work beforehand researching and collaborating to ensure we had one of the best programs. We truly thank her for all the successes she created for this program.”

VandeVord designed the degree after reviewing other undergraduate biomedical programs and discussing curriculum and research options with a myriad people. She sought to create a highly innovative program for Virginia Tech students, focusing on the university's strengths and going a step further by incorporating the College of Engineering’s mission of providing experiential learning as much as possible.

“The program is unique because we pulled in our strengths as a research university,” VandeVord said. “I believe most people have summer experiences [for research], but we are working to give our students multiple experiences throughout the year and get them ahead of the game. Involving students in research early and often will help provide them with experiences that top companies in the field are looking for. Virginia Tech has a great history of getting students involved in research, and we’re continuing that legacy with our biomedical engineering major.”

VandeVord has received numerous awards recognizing her research, service, and other accomplishments throughout her career thus far. In 2009, she earned the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the Vanguard Award in 2011, a slew of Virginia Tech Engineering awards, and she became a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) in 2017.

She received her bachelor’s in physiology from Michigan State University. She received both her master’s degree in medical sciences and her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Wayne State University.

-Written by Laura McWhinney