Matthew Tirrell to step down as dean of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering next year


Matthew Tirrell, Dean of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering and Emeritus Service Professor in SMEs, announced that he plans to step down as Dean on September 1, 2023.

“Matt was a visionary leader, recruiting and enabling a generation of University of Chicago faculty to shape and define the new field of molecular engineering,” said President Paul Alivisatos. “I am grateful to him for his deep commitment to the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering and for his many impactful contributions to the University of Chicago.”

Tirrell has led the University’s molecular engineering program since its inception in 2011, first as Pritzker’s founding director of the Institute for Molecular Engineering. In 2019, PME became the first school in the country dedicated to the field. Tirrell has built the PME faculty, comprising 33 primary appointments and 10 secondary appointments, organized into three engineering research themes: immunoengineering, quantum engineering, and materials for sustainability and health, as well as an arts, science, and technology theme.

Under Tirrell’s leadership, more than a dozen multi-investigator research collaborations have been founded with PME as the lead or central participant. Among these are the Center for Hierarchical Materials Design, the Chicago Quantum Exchange, and the Chicago Immunoengineering Innovation Center. He has played an important role in building cooperation between the University and Argonne National Laboratory, where he is a Principal Investigator, has a Department of Energy-funded project, and served as Deputy Laboratory Director for the science and technology. He has also helped PME develop many productive international relationships, including with Ben Gurion University (Israel), Humboldt University (Germany), Zhejiang University (China) and Tohoku University (Japan).

The PME student body grew significantly under Tirrell’s leadership to nearly 300 PhDs. students and about 40 undergraduate classes per year, and about 140 postdoctoral researchers. PME’s postdoctoral group has produced professors now appointed to top research institutions. Tirrell led the creation of a unique PME undergraduate engineering program, which teaches the fundamentals of engineering in a way that crosses disciplines and allows for specialization in seven PME areas of expertise.

Tirrell maintained an active research program throughout his tenure as Dean, a period that included, among other recognitions, election to the National Academy of Sciences in 2019. During his tenure as Dean, he mentored 15 scholars postdocs and 10 doctoral students. students. He will continue his research, which focuses on polyelectrolytes and biomedical nanoparticles, after his tenure as dean.

“The opportunity to create a new engineering school from scratch is very rare,” Tirrell said. “I am grateful to the University of Chicago for giving me this opportunity, and to the faculty, staff, and students who have joined in this adventure. We clearly show that a research and teaching program in engineering based on the search for technological solutions for problems of importance to society is an innovative and successful approach.

Information on the search for the next GPE Dean will be forthcoming.


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