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Engineering dean elected to National Academy

February 8, 2013

Enrique Lavernia

Enrique Lavernia's research interests are principally in processes to make nanomaterials. (Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis photo)

Enrique Lavernia, dean of the College of Engineering at the University of California, Davis, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the highest professional distinction for an engineer. Lavernia was elected for "contributions to novel processing of metals and alloys, and for leadership in engineering education."

"This is a wonderful recognition of Enrique Lavernia's outstanding work, as a scientist, an educator, a leader in the engineering profession and as dean of the College of Engineering," said UC Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, who is also a professor of electrical engineering and a member of the academy.

Lavernia is the 13th current or retired member of the UC Davis faculty to be elected to the prestigious academy. It is one of four organizations that make up the National Academies of the U.S., established by Congress to advise the nation on a wide range of scientific issues.

"I am truly honored and humbled by this recognition," said Lavernia. "This is a tremendous acknowledgment of the research achievement, teaching excellence and public service accomplishments of UC Davis and our College of Engineering.

"I couldn't have accomplished so much without the tremendous efforts of my graduate students, postdoctoral scientists, research assistants, staff and academic colleagues. I have also been very fortunate to have outstanding support from the leadership of UC Davis, which has been critical to the growth of our college."

Lavernia also holds the position of Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. His research interests are principally in processes to make nanomaterials, which are materials made up of very small particles whose size gives them unusual properties. He has published 500 journal and 200 conference publications on topics ranging from nanomaterials to extremely strong aluminum alloys.

During Lavernia's tenure as dean, the College of Engineering has seen its research expenditures grow from $37.3 million in 2001-02 to more than $87.1 million in 2011-12. During that same time, undergraduate enrollment has increased from 3,317 to 3,852 while graduate student enrollment has grown from 768 to 1,252. Lavernia has also demonstrated a significant commitment to faculty, staff and student diversity, resulting in the College of Engineering ranking sixth (of 309) in the U.S. for percentage of female faculty.

Under Lavernia's leadership, the College of Engineering has been extensively engaged in outreach to schools, including the efforts of the Center for Computing and STEM Education led by Professor Harry Cheng, and the Renewable Energy Systems Opportunity for Unified Research Collaboration and Education program led by Professor Jean VanderGheynst.

Lavernia earned his B.S. with honors in solid mechanics from Brown University in 1982, his M.S. in metallurgy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1984, and his Ph.D. in materials engineering from MIT in 1986.

Lavernia took up the position of dean of the UC Davis College of Engineering in 2002, after serving at UC Irvine as chair and Chancellor’s Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. He served as provost and executive vice chancellor of UC Davis from January 2009 to December 2010.

Among other honors, Lavernia is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, ASM International, Materials Research Society and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Earlier in his career, he was named as a Presidential Young Investigator by the National Science Foundation and also received a Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research.

In 2011 he received the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Award and the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science Distinguished Scientist Award. Lavernia is also the recipient of the 2013 Edward DeMille Campbell Memorial Lectureship, and the 2013 ASM International Gold Medal Award. He was named the 1998 Biochemical and Biochemical Engineering Materials Science “Science Teacher of the Year" at UC Irvine.

About UC Davis

UC Davis is a global community of individuals united to better humanity and our natural world while seeking solutions to some of our most pressing challenges. Located near the California state capital, UC Davis has more than 34,000 students, and the full-time equivalent of 4,100 faculty and other academics and 17,400 staff. The campus has an annual research budget of over $750 million, a comprehensive health system and about two dozen specialized research centers. The university offers interdisciplinary graduate study and 99 undergraduate majors in four colleges and six professional schools.

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