Klapperich Selected as First Dorf-Ebner Distinguished Faculty Fellow


By Mark Dwortzan

Associate Professor Catherine Klapperich (BME, MSE) and Roger Dorf (MS, MFG'70) in the BU Alumni Board Room
Associate Professor Catherine Klapperich (BME, MSE) and Roger Dorf (MS, MFG’70) in the BU Alumni Board Room

Associate Professor Catherine Klapperich (BME, MSE) was selected as the inaugural holder of the Dorf-Ebner Distinguished Faculty Fellow award, which honors a mid-career College of Engineering faculty member who has demonstrated exceptional performance and impact in research, teaching and service to the College, and is on track to become an outstanding senior leader in his or her field. Issued once every five years, the award provides each recipient with $100,000 in funding over a five-year period for discretionary initiatives in research and/or education.

The Dorf-Ebner Distinguished Faculty Fellow award is made possible by the generous philanthropy of Roger Dorf (MS, MFG’70), who serves on the College of Engineering’s Leadership Advisory Board. The award was named in memory of Professor Merrill Ebner (MFG), Dorf’s mentor and pioneer of the field of manufacturing engineering, who established the College of Engineering as a leader in the US in the late 1960s.

Klapperich was chosen from a highly competitive slate of nominees in a rigorous selection process.

“I am extremely grateful for this recognition, and especially pleased that the fellowship is in honor of Dr. Merrill Ebner, one of my first mentors at Boston University,” said Klapperich. “Merrill made me feel like a member of the College of Engineering community from day one, and I have fond memories of our talks.”

Klapperich, the director of the NIH Center for Future Technologies in Cancer Care at BU, develops robust, inexpensive, handheld, microfluidic plastic chips and devices that extract nucleic acids from complex human samples—technologies that could enable rapid, point-of-care diagnostics for infectious diseases and cancer without the need for electricity or refrigeration. These minimally instrumented systems could be a major step forward in facilitating the use of molecular diagnostics in developing countries. Klapperich is also working on the design and deployment of devices to more efficiently apply systems biology techniques to improve understanding of TB and other complex diseases.

A recently elected Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and Kern Innovation Faculty Fellow, Klapperich directs the Laboratory for Diagnostics and Global Healthcare Technologies and is a member of the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. Widely published in peer-reviewed journals, her work has garnered more than 1,100 citations in research literature. She serves on the editorial board of Biomedical Microdevices and is an active participant in both national and international research conferences. In 2010, she was an invited participant in the National Academies of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering conference. A member of the College of Engineering faculty since 2003, she earned her PhD in Mechanical Engineering in 2000 from the University of California, Berkeley.

Klapperich is also a widely sought-after educator and mentor who has created and taught in some of the most popular design and manufacture courses at the College. She recently took over the BME Senior Project course with resounding success.

“Cathie is a wonderful first choice for this award,” said Dorf. “Her academic credentials and accomplishments speak for themselves, but what makes her selection really special is that she and I were both mentored by Merrill Ebner.”

Chair of the ENG Campaign Steering Committee, and co-chair of the BU Texas Regional Campaign Committee, Dorf is a recipient of both the ENG and BU Distinguished Alumni Awards. He served for more than 40 years in executive and engineering leadership before retiring from his position as vice president of Cisco Systems in 2009. He previously served as president and CEO of Navini Networks, and in leadership positions at Celite Systems, Nortel Network, Synch Research, AT&T, Cullinet Software and IBM.

Based in Dallas, Texas, Dorf is active in several organizations including the Community Foundation of the Gunnison Valley in Gunnison, Colorado, the US Chamber of Commerce, and Missouri University of Science & Technology.