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Kay C Dee Challenges Her Students, Accepts Their Own Challenges

Monday, January 13, 2014
Dee Teaching
Kay C Dee

Biomedical Engineering Professor Kay C Dee, PhD, will do just about anything for her biomedical engineering students: review their resumes, consult about graduate school, and even advise the lovelorn.

But last year, Dee took that devotion to a new level when they coaxed her into piercing her left eyebrow. She had hesitated to do this during her own undergraduate years for fear it would negatively impact her academic career.

"My seniors were having a bad day, and I mentioned that 20 years ago I wanted to get my eyebrow pierced and didn't because I wanted people to think I was a serious researcher. My students said that I had to do it now because I'm not a serious researcher; I'm a serious teacher," Dee says, with a laugh. "My students were thrilled when they saw it…I keep it because it's a reminder of how much I love my students."

Dee and her husband Glen Livesay, PhD, joined Rose-Hulman's Department of Applied Biology and Biomedical Engineering in 2004 because they wanted to focus on undergraduate teaching.

"The opportunity to work with our students is unmatched," Dee states about teaching at Rose-Hulman. "I'm making a difference in these students' lives. They want to get skills, and they want to grow in their knowledge. I get to help make it fun, and I get to help make it meaningful. They know I'm going to hold them to a high standard, but I don't have to be mean to make this experience valuable and rigorous."

While advising senior-year design projects, Dee often has to have difficult conversations with her students while teaching them real-world skills such as situational leadership and conflict resolution.

"If I tell my students something hard, or something they don't want to hear, they know I'm not trying to hurt their feelings," she says. "My students appreciate honesty and the genuine caring behind these conversations."

The one lesson that Dee hopes to pass along to her students is the benefit of hard work.

"I want them to believe they can figure out any technical problem they face," she says. "I want them to know they have the skills and capabilities they need to be successful and to have confidence in themselves."


Kay C Dee, PhD
Associate Dean of Learning and Technology
Professor of Applied Biology & Biomedical Engineering
Years at Rose-Hulman: 9
Teaches: Essential Biology, Biomaterials, Tissue-Biomaterial Interactions, Biomedical Engineering Design, and Problem Solving in the Biological Sciences and Engineering
Co-Author: An Introduction to Tissue-Biomaterial Interactions, Wiley-Liss, 2002
Classic Assignment: Students bedazzle posters, puzzles, and mobiles to demonstrate coagulation pathways