Shekhar Garde Named Dean of Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
June 5, 2014
By Michael Mullaney
Garde, the Elaine S. and Jack S. Parker Chaired Professor in Engineering at Rensselaer, has served since 2007 as head of the university’s Howard. P. Isermann Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE).
“Dr. Garde is a distinguished researcher, an exceptional educator, and a skilled leader,” said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. “He brings an exciting vision and tremendous enthusiasm to the role of dean of the School of Engineering, as we move forward toward the bicentennial of Rensselaer in 2024. The contributions and leadership of Dr. Garde will be pivotal as we continue to educate the technology leaders of tomorrow and pursue innovative and interdisciplinary research to address the most pressing challenges facing our world.”
“The School of Engineering at Rensselaer has a rich tradition of innovation and excellence in engineering education, and a global reputation for its leading-edge research,” Garde said. “I am honored and excited to lead the school at this important time. By striving for quality and excellence in research and education, building bridges across various schools at Rensselaer, cultivating and celebrating diversity, and promoting the accomplishments of our faculty, students, and staff, we will continue to elevate the impact and the transformational nature of engineering at Rensselaer.”
Garde is an expert in molecular theory and simulations of biomolecular and nanoscopic systems. His research focuses on understanding the role of water in biological structure and function, and he collaborates with researchers from a wide range of academic disciplines to further the fundamental understanding of molecular-scale processes that lie at the foundation of bio- and nanotechnologies.
He joined the School of Engineering at Rensselaer as an assistant professor in 1999, and was promoted to associate professor in 2004 and full professor in 2006. He was appointed as the Parker Chaired Professor in 2006 and was named head of CBE in 2007.
Under Garde’s leadership, CBE transformed itself into an intellectually vibrant department with internationally recognized faculty and a strong and growing student body. Garde helped recruit seven new chemical engineering faculty members, and grew the graduate program to more than 80 doctoral students. During Garde’s tenure as department head, CBE undergraduate enrollment doubled to more than 340 students, and the undergraduate curriculum evolved to incorporate modern courses and updated facilities. Garde also established a new program to recognize outstanding teaching assistants and research mentors, as well as the CBE Outstanding Teacher Award to honor dedicated educators. With a generous gift from Howard P. Isermann ’42, Garde in 2013 helped establish special fellowships to attract outstanding women and underrepresented minority graduate students to CBE.
Garde is the author of 85 papers published in leading scientific journals, and his work has been cited more than 5,400 times. He has received several awards for his research, including a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development Award (CAREER) in 2001 from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the 2003 Rensselaer School of Engineering Research Award, and the 2011 Robert W. Vaughan Lectureship at the California Institute of Technology. He is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.
Additionally, Garde is one of three leaders of the Molecularium Project. Supported by the NSF and private funding, the Molecularium team has created two animated movies to teach young children about the world of atoms and molecules. The movies, Riding Snowflakes and Molecules to the MAX!, have won numerous awards and are currently playing in educational theaters around the world. The project’s NanoSpace website, an online science “theme park” featuring games, videos, and educational resources, won a “2013 Best of the Web” award from the Center for Digital Education.
Garde received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Bombay, and his doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware.
Founded in 1824, Rensselaer is the oldest technological university in the English-speaking world. For nearly two centuries, the Institute has been a driving force behind breakthroughs in engineering and science in virtually every arena – from transportation and infrastructure to business, medicine, outer space, and cyberspace.
Today, more than 3,000 undergraduate students and 700 graduate students are enrolled in the School of Engineering at Rensselaer, and 76 percent of incoming first-year engineering students were in the top 10 percent of their high school graduating class. The School of Engineering’s seven academic departments offer 22 different degree programs. Research conducted at Rensselaer addresses some of the world’s most pressing technological challenges – from energy security and sustainable development to biotechnology and human health – and the School of Engineering’s 140 research-active faculty members are at the leading edge of their fields.
The School of Engineering is one of five schools at Rensselaer, through which students at all levels are engaged in and researching a wide array of critical 21st-century challenges. In addition to Engineering, the university offers more than 145 programs at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels in the schools of Science; Architecture; Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences; and the Lally School of Management; as well as an interdisciplinary degree in Information Technology.