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Three College of Engineering faculty have been awarded the Dean’s Early Career Fellowship in recognition of their innovations and research breakthroughs. Nontenured faculty are considered for the award by the Engineering Review Committee after being nominated by their department heads. Fellows receive discretionary funding that lasts for three years or until they are named full professors. This year, Xi (Charlie) Ren, Victoria Webster-Wood, and Ding Zhao have received the honor for their contributions to their respective fields.  

Xi (Charlie) Ren

Charlie Ren is an associate professor of biomedical engineering and leads the Engineered Morphogenesis Group, which utilizes engineering strategies to probe the interaction between cells and extracellular matrix in shaping tissue morphogenesis and regeneration. Ren was part of a recent collaboration between researchers at CMU and Boston University that produced the first laboratory model for human heart and lung codevelopment, seen as a jumping off point for future cardiopulmonary research.

Victoria Webster-Wood

Victoria Webster-Wood is an associate professor of mechanical engineering whose research interests revolve around using natural and biodegradable materials to construct robots so they have greater adaptability and are environmentally friendly. To probe these ideas, Webster-Wood established the CMU Biohybrid and Organic Robotics Group (B.O.R.G.), which focuses on the use of biologically-derived materials as structures, actuators, sensors, and controllers toward the development of bioinspired, biohybrid and, organic robots.

Ding Zhao

Ding Zhao is an associate professor of mechanical engineering with additional associations with the Computer Science Department, Robotics Institute, CyLab Security & Privacy Institute, and Scott Institute for Energy Innovation. He is recognized for his research in trustworthy AI, with applications on intelligent autonomy and healthcare. He is the recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award, George Tallman Ladd Research Award, MIT Technology Review 35 under 35 China Award, Ford University Collaboration Award, Carnegie-Bosch Research Award, Struminger Teaching Award, and industrial fellowship awards from Google Deepmind, Adobe, Bosch, and Toyota.