College names new engineering chair

Dr. Barbara Muller-Borer

ECU and the College of Engineering and Technology (CET) have announced that Dr. Barbara Muller-Borer has been named the chair of the CET’s Department of Engineering.

“Barbara and I share a deep commitment to the success of students who come to ECU for engineering, as well as the life-long success of our graduates in their careers and communities,” said CET Dean Harry Ploehn. “I’m looking forward to her leadership in sustaining that program’s excellence and commitment to student access and student success.”

Muller-Borer earned her MS and Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research focused on computational modeling of electrical signal propagation in normal and injured heart tissue. Before coming to ECU in 2004 as an assistant professor at the Brody School of Medicine (BSOM), she completed a postdoctoral fellowship in cardiovascular physiology and imaging at UNC-Chapel Hill in the Division of Cardiology. She was involved in several outreach initiatives with summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates programs and American Heart Association summer programs for high school students.

While in the BSOM, Muller-Borer established the Cell-based Therapies and Tissue Engineering Laboratory, where current research is focused on developing 3D cardiovascular tissue microenvironments to study cardiac and adult stem cell interactions. Her lab at ECU has provided mentoring and research opportunities to more than 33 undergraduate, graduate and medical students. She is a member of a team that established and serves as an advisor for the Cellular Analysis/Imaging Core facility in BSOM.

In 2012, Muller-Borer joined the Department of Engineering as an associate professor. She was instrumental in establishing CET’s Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering program, which graduated its first class in December 2016.

She succeeds Dr. Hayden Griffin, who served as chair for nearly eight years.

Dr. Muller-Borer with CET’s first biomedical engineering graduating class.

“It is an honor and privilege to serve as chair of the Department of Engineering,” said Muller-Borer. “It is an exciting time to be a part of the university, CET and the department. I look forward to working with Dean Ploehn, CET’s leadership team and the engineering faculty to continue to maximize student success, enhance academic program excellence and advance research and scholarship.”

Among her goals for the department, Muller-Borer will build upon the department’s core values and sense of community to give undergraduate engineering students the support and attention needed to prepare them for success as they enter the engineering workforce. In addition, Muller-Borer will lead the department to further innovation in engineering education, expand industry support for senior capstone projects, and grow graduate research programs in biomedical and mechanical engineering. To do this, she plans to expand on and explore new, multidisciplinary, collaborative relationships for engineering faculty with researchers across the ECU campus and UNC System, as well as facilitate interactions with industry, business and public sector organizations across eastern North Carolina.

The significance of being engineering’s first female chair is not lost on Muller-Borer. She hopes her appointment will bring attention to the fact that women are underrepresented in the engineering field.

“To tackle this problem, we need to partner with K-12 schools, community colleges and employers to identify and provide solutions that make engineering education and careers more attractive to talented female students,” added Muller-Borer.