Sheldon Weinbaum ’59, CUNY Distinguished Professor of Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering at The City College of New York, was recently honored with the prestigious Davies Medal for Engineering Achievement from the School of Engineering.
“We are proud to present Dr. Weinbaum with the Davies Medal, the highest honor awarded to an alumnus of Rensselaer’s School of Engineering,” said Alan Cramb, dean of engineering. “Through his long career in academia and forward-thinking multidisciplinary research into bioheat transfer, bone fluid flow, microvascular fluid exchange, and other important areas, Dr. Weinbaum has raised the standard of excellence for both graduates of Rensselaer’s School of Engineering and engineers across the globe.”
In honor of one of the Institute’s most accomplished, active, and loyal alumni, Clarence E. Davies ’14, Rensselaer established the Davies Medal for Engineering Achievement to recognize a Rensselaer alumnus with a distinguished career of engineering achievement, public service, and technical and managerial accomplishments. The Davies Medal award is funded by an endowment from Mr. and Mrs. J. Erik Jonsson ’22.
Weinbaum accepted the award at an April 18 event in the Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies. At the event, Weinbaum delivered a presentation titled “Finding My Voice as a Scientist: A Personal Odyssey,” focusing on his 40-year career as a celebrated professor and researcher.
A prolific researcher with more than 200 published papers, Weinbaum was instrumental in establishing The City College of New York’s Department of
Biomedical Engineering and the New York Center for Biomedical Engineering, a research consortium with eight area hospitals and other institutions. The department in 2001 received a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to create a “national urban model for minority biomedical engineering education.” The grant was renewed in 2006 for five additional years.
Along with his pioneering work in the development of heat and mass transfer in biological systems, Weinbaum’s recent investigations include a “bumper-car” model to explain the role of the endothelial glyco-calyx in the cellular mechanotransduction of fluid shear stress, a new hypothesis for vulnerable plaque rupture, and a new concept for a wingless jet plane that flies on a soft porous track a few centimeters above the Earth’s surface.
Weinbaum is one of only seven living Americans elected to all three U.S. National Academies: Science, Engineering, and Medicine. His other honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2002, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ H.R. Lissner Award in 1994 and Melville Medal in 1996, and a National Science Foundation (NSF) “Special Creativity Award” in 1985.
Outside the research arena, Weinbaum has devoted his career to advocacy for equality of access in public higher education.
After receiving his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering from Rensselaer in 1959, Weinbaum went on to earn his master’s degree in applied physics and doctorate in engineering from Harvard University in 1960 and 1963, respectively. He joined the faculty of The City College of New York in 1967. He continues to advise students and conduct research at the College, supported by five grants from the NSF and NIH.
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