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Kay C Dee's Contributions Put Her Among Medical, Biological Engineering Elite

Friday, March 20, 2015
Kay C Dee

Award-Winning Educator: Kay C Dee's contributions as a biomedical engineering professor have been recognized by the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. She is also associate dean of learning and technology. (Photo by Shawn Spence)

Kay C Dee has added another honor to an award-winning career as a biomedical engineering educator and researcher on tissue-biomaterial interactions.

Dee, associate dean of learning and technology and professor of biomedical engineering, has been inducted into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering's prestigious College of Fellows. She was honored during a special reception March 16 at the National Academy of Sciences' Great Hall in Washington, D.C.

The College of Fellows comprises the nation's top two percent of medical and biological engineers. It recognizes Dee's contributions in research related to engineering education and tissue biomaterials.

Dee was co-author of the textbook An Introduction to Tissue-Biomaterial Interactions (John Wiley & Sons), serves on the editorial board for the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research - Part A, and is an author of many peer-reviewed publications in the areas of engineering education, biomaterials, and tissue engineering.

One of her two most commonly cited biomedical research articles describes immobilizing a new protein fragment on dental/orthopedic biomaterials to control bone cell functions, and the other provides an explanation for how the lung cells of premature infants might be damaged during mechanical ventilation.

"I really like being an engineer," Dee says. "I like to solve problems; I like to learn new things every day; I like to understand how things work; I like to make things; and, since I teach engineering, I get to help other people learn to do all of those cool kinds of things."

Dee joined the Rose-Hulman faculty in 2004 after receiving a number of awards for teaching, research and mentoring at Tulane University, including being named the Louisiana Professor of the Year. From 2007-09, she served as the founding director of Rose-Hulman's Center for the Practice and Scholarship of Education, and became associate dean of learning and technology in 2013.

Her love of teaching and working with students has been recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the National Science Foundation, and Dee has served as a teaching fellow for the National Effective Teaching Institute. She routinely gives workshops on teaching and learning and is part of the team providing Rose-Hulman's annual Making Academic Change Happen workshop. Her most controversial educational research publication showed that student evaluations of teaching were not correlated with perceptions of how much work students had to do for the course, but were correlated with perceptions of factors like whether the instructor used teaching methods that help students learn, or appeared organized/prepared for class.

"The opportunity to work with Rose-Hulman students is unmatched," she says. "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. What could be a better career? I can't think of one."

More than 50 graduate and undergraduate students have worked with Dee on research to control biochemical and mechanical events at the interface between living cells and their surroundings.

"I have to admit that I have not personally discovered any medicine to cure a disease. However, some of my research has helped other engineers, scientists, and doctors get a better understanding of how cells interact with biomaterials and mechanical forces," Dee says. "I have contributed to the knowledge of the people who read my research, and when they come up with great ideas, I like to think that I contributed in a very small way to their good work."