Otto named new head of Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering

Kevin Otto, Ph.D.

From Purdue News

After an extensive search, Kevin J. Otto has been named the next Dane Miller Head of the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. His initial five-year term at Purdue will begin July 1, 2024.

Otto is a professor in the J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Florida’s Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering and the principal investigator in the university’s Neuroprotheses Research Lab. He has published 69 papers in peer-reviewed journals, 42 refereed proceedings, five book chapters and three patents. He has supervised 17 doctoral students to graduation, is currently supervising five more, and has given more than 108 international, national and local research presentations.

Otto will be responsible for day-to-day leadership of the Weldon School’s faculty, staff and academic programs as well as the effective use of its financial, administrative and human resources. The Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering includes 508 undergraduate students, 228 graduate students and 42 core and secondary faculty members.

Otto will work closely with Arvind Raman, the John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering and Robert V. Adams Professor in Mechanical Engineering, and members of the college’s Senior Leadership Team to further the mission and vision of the university, college and school.

“Kevin is a respected and innovative biomedical researcher and educator,” Raman said. “He also is a proven leader who has led large, multidisciplinary, multi-investigator federal projects and has secured more than $14 million from government funding agencies and private funding agencies to support his own laboratory.”

Otto succeeds Nan Kong, who has served as interim head since 2023. Kong will remain a professor of biomedical engineering.

Otto earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from Colorado State University in 1997, and his master’s (2002) and PhD (2003) degrees in bioengineering from Arizona State University. From 2003 to 2004 he was a research fellow in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan where his work focused on brain-machine interface systems and implantable devices. From 2004 to 2006 he was a post-doctoral fellow in the Central Systems Laboratory in the Kresge Hearing Research Institute in the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Michigan where his work focused on cochlear implants.

Otto’s research focuses on engineering neural interfaces for both research purposes as well as treatment options in neurological injuries or disease. His research focuses on multi-channel implantable microdevices in both the central and peripheral nervous systems. These interfaces are being investigated for many applications including sensory replacement, cognitive functional therapy and neuromodulation for autonomic therapies.

Otto said the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering is poised to benefit from the Purdue Computes initiative, the proximity to medical and financial centers via Purdue University in Indianapolis and the Dream Hire program.

“My long-term goals will be to engage the Weldon School Faculty to strategically capitalize on these opportunities to develop new educational opportunities, research directions and generate transformative impact,” he said.

Otto began his faculty career at Purdue for eight years before he was recruited to the University of Florida, which had strong proximity and connections to the UF Health Center.

“Over the past eight years, I have learned how to engage with clinical scientists and have led several research teams on large, sponsored programs,” Otto said. “As the Dane Miller Head of the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, I’m excited to work with the faculty, staff and students to take this next giant leap.”

Otto has received many honors and recognitions, including the UF Doctoral Dissertation Advisor/Mentoring Award, the UF BME Service Award, the UF BME Research Award, the Weldon School Faculty Service Award and the Outstanding Faculty Award from the Weldon School Graduate Student Association. He is a fellow of the Biomedical Engineering Society and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and has served on numerous editorial and advisory boards.

David Bahr, head and professor of materials engineering, and John DeFord, executive vice president and chief technology officer of BD, chaired the search committee and were supported by Stephanie Ferguson, lead executive recruiter for Purdue HR, and 10 other colleagues, Eugenio Culurciello, Krishna Jayant, Brian Knoy, Chi Hwan Lee, Jackie Linnes, Kinam Park, Elsje Pienaar, Taimoor Hasan Qazi, Vitaliy Rayz and Luis Solorio.