Brown University School of Engineering appoints an Indian-American dean


An eminent and well-accomplished Indian American professor has been appointed as the next dean of Brown University’s School of Engineering.

Tejal Desai, a biomedical engineer and academic leader is an expert in applying micro-and nanoscale technologies to create new ways to deliver medicine to targeted sites in the human body

She is an alumnus of Brown University with a bachelor’s degree from the Class of 1994.

“Brown engineers tend to be people with a very particular drive to improve the world around them. Students come to Brown because they want to make a positive impact on society and they see engineering as a powerful way to do that,” said Desai about the institution.

She said she looks forward to leading a program that was formative in her own career as a researcher and educator.

Desai has earned recognition as one of MIT Technology Review’s Top 100 Young Innovators, one of Popular Science’s Brilliant 10, and as the winner of the 2012 Paul R. Dawson Biotechnology Award from the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. She is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Inventors, as well as president of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

Currently, Desai is a professor and a former longtime chair of the Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences at the University of California San Francisco, and inaugural director of UCSF’s Health Innovations Via Engineering (HIVE) initiative.

She has held academic leadership positions at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Boston University and UCSF and has served in recent years as a member of Brown’s biomedical engineering advisory board.

Brown President Christina H. Paxson and Provost Richard M. Locke announced Desai’s appointment in a Wednesday, Jan. 12, letter to the School of Engineering community.

“In addition to her groundbreaking research, Professor Desai has been a transformative leader of programs that develop and support young researchers, foster cross-disciplinary approaches to critical engineering challenges and support diversity, equity and inclusion in the engineering field,” Paxson and Locke wrote. “As a Brown graduate, she keenly understands the innovative and collaborative character of engineering at Brown, and we look forward to working with her in her new role as dean.”

Desai will begin her tenure on Sept. 1, 2022, succeeding Lawrence Larson, who has served as the inaugural School of Engineering dean since 2011. Last fall, Larson announced his plans to return to full-time teaching and research at the conclusion of the 2021-22 academic year.

As dean, Desai will lead the third oldest engineering program in the U.S. and the oldest in the Ivy League.

Desai’s responsibilities will include continuing to grow the school’s research enterprise with a focus on pressing societal challenges, as well as deepening research and teaching collaboration within the school and across campus.

A key priority will be continuing to diversify the school’s student body at all levels while recruiting and retaining more faculty from historically underrepresented groups.