Dean Julio M. Ottino



Phil Messersmith’s research appeared on the cover of Nature

From the Dean

Greetings from McCormick

The transformation of McCormick continues. We are initiating new undergraduate and graduate curricular options, and supporting increased faculty cross-departmental and cross-school collaboration that is resulting in groundbreaking faculty research.

On the cover of this magazine is an image from Phil Messersmith’s research in biomaterials that also appeared on the cover of Nature in July. That cover is among the more than 70 high-impact journal covers that we have framed in two hallways of the Technological Institute — evidence that our faculty is publishing in more prestigious research journals than ever, and one of many indicators we use to measure our progress as an institution.

Faculty hiring is another sign of progress. I am pleased to report that we have had considerable success in that area over the past two years. The importance of hiring the right faculty cannot be overstated. Hiring is a very competitive process among top universities, and the success we have seen signifies that McCormick continues to be a top destination for talented faculty. About 80 percent of McCormick’s offers to new faculty were accepted last year, and the acceptance rate is 93 percent this year. With these new hires, McCormick will have seen a 16 percent change in faculty over the past two years — a process that is accelerating the transformation of the school. Significantly, these new hires are not all junior faculty members; many are distinguished researchers who are well known in their fields.

I am also pleased to report that we have seen a considerable increase in media coverage. Our national and international print, web, and broadcast coverage has spanned a range of topics, including several stories featured in this issue of McCormick magazine. From Vadim Backman’s pioneering work in detecting pancreatic cancer to Peter Voorhees’s research in space, our faculty members continue to be featured for their innovative research.

The nation’s most prestigious science award, the National Medal of Science, was recently given to Jan Achenbach and Tobin Marks at the White House. They are Northwestern’s first recipients of the award, and Jan is one of few individuals who have been honored with both the National Medal of Technology and the National Medal of Science.

McCormick continues to be a destination for top students, such as the two profiled in this issue. Alex Yee, a sophomore in computer science, recently made headlines for setting a new record for computing a mathematical constant. Megan Greenfield, a graduate student in chemical and biological engineering, was cocreator of a new organization to improve the University’s graduate student community. These are excellent examples of the tremendous talent found in our undergraduate and graduate programs.

After two years of rapidly developing and implementing new initiatives to take McCormick to the next level of excellence, we are now focusing on keeping our momentum and institutionalizing change. The support of McCormick alumni and friends is critical to this process, and I’m pleased to be able to take this opportunity to thank the many donors to the McCormick School in this issue.

I hope you enjoy this issue of McCormick magazine. It’s an exciting time to be part of the McCormick community, and I’m pleased to share our progress with you.

Julio M. Ottino, Dean | November 2007