Buchanan to direct Delaware Rehabilitation Institute
Thomas Buchanan


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1:24 p.m., June 30, 2010----Thomas S. Buchanan, George W. Laird Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Delaware, has been appointed director of the Delaware Rehabilitation Institute (DRI).

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The mission of the new institute is to find innovative and improved ways to help people recover from injury and disease by bringing together biologists, clinical scientists, engineers, and policy experts to critically address the issues faced by those with disabilities.

“Tom Buchanan brings tremendous skill and expertise to the Delaware Rehabilitation Institute,” says University Provost Tom Apple. “He has been a top researcher in the area of biomechanics, and he has a great history of collaboration. He's a proven leader in establishing research teams and interdisciplinary research-based programs.”

Buchanan sees Delaware as having a unique strength in rehabilitation sciences. “We have more than 50 faculty members in five colleges and ten departments here at UD doing research in this area,” he says, “with over $15 million a year in external funding. This is a really exciting opportunity to promote the great work that's already underway and bring it all together to raise Delaware to a position of national prominence.”

DRI will be an important component of UD's growing health sciences presence in fields including biology, biomedical engineering, physical therapy, applied physiology, nursing, and others.

“The work at UD ranges from subcellular-level research to the development of physical therapy approaches to policy and community engagement,” Buchanan says. “We have multidisciplinary programs in a number of areas, including osteoarthritis, stroke, pediatrics, and rehabilitation robotics. And our partners in the Delaware Health Sciences Alliance will provide important clinical support for our research.”

DRI will initially have administrative space in UD's McDowell Hall, with plans to locate the institute and core research facilities at the former Chrysler site over the next five years. “These shared core labs will be multidisciplinary and will include biologists, engineers, and clinical researchers all working together,” Buchanan says.

“I look forward to working with Tom to establish DRI as one of our leading interdisciplinary research institutes along the Path to Prominence,” says Mark Barteau, senior vice provost for research and strategic initiatives. “With the Delaware Health Sciences Alliance and the NIH INBRE program, DRI will boost our research, education and outreach programs in the health sciences to a new and exciting level for UD.”

The 2008 recipient of the E.A. Trabant Award for Women's Equity, Buchanan is credited with playing a key role in the increase in women faculty in engineering at UD and with engaging his female colleagues in collaborative research.

Buchanan earned his doctorate in theoretical and applied mechanics from Northwestern University. He joined the UD faculty in 1996, served as chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering from 2004 to 2008, and was appointed deputy dean in the College of Engineering in 2008. He has also served as academic director of UD's interdisciplinary Biomechanics and Movement Science Program and director of its Center for Biomedical Engineering Research.

He is president of the American Society of Biomechanics and a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and the American College of Sports Medicine.

As deputy dean of engineering, Buchanan spearheaded the creation of the new biomedical engineering bachelor's degree program. He also initiated and coordinated cluster searches within the college.

“These contributions represent the achievement of major goals for the college in strengthening our undergraduate programs and in allowing us to focus our faculty hiring in strategic areas,” said engineering dean Michael Chajes. “We greatly appreciate Tom's contributions as deputy dean over the past two years, and we look forward to continued collaborations with him in the area of rehabilitation science.”

Babatunde Ogunnaike, William L. Friend Chair of Chemical Engineering, has been appointed to replace Buchanan as deputy dean, effective July 1.

Article by Diane Kukich