Convergence: unexpected partnerships in engineering, medicine, and beyond

Frank Doyle

How can we build robots that act like living organisms? What will it take to develop an artificial pancreas? Or create intelligent medical nanotechnologies? New intellectual spaces for interdisciplinary thinking are encouraging engineers to work with life scientists to find surprising solutions to complex societal problems.

In this talk, I will make a case that world class Universities have a unique opportunity to explore new pathways that result from not only the convergence of engineering and applied sciences with the life and physical sciences, but also from embedding engineering into design, business, law, medicine, and the arts and humanities.

Every day, scholars seek solutions to complex global issues—clean and renewable energy, climate change, cybersecurity, health care for a growing population, and more.

Through collaborations with researchers across their campus, other universities, and corporate and foundation partners, engineers and applied scientists brings discovery and innovation directly to bear on improving human life and society.

Such a revolution is taking root in multiple US universities, and adopts the unifying principle of convergence - the merging of distinct technologies, industries, or devices into a coherent whole.

Experiences from Harvard’s multiple Schools will be highlighted, illustrating the power of a Convergence approach. It requires new ways of not only conducting research, but for funding and education as well.


Frank Doyle is the John A. Paulson Dean of the Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University, where he also is the John A. & Elizabeth S. Armstrong Professor. Prior to that he was the Mellichamp Professor at UC Santa Barbara, where he was the Chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering, the Director of the UCSB/MIT/Caltech Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies, and the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering.

He received a B.S.E. degree from Princeton, C.P.G.S. from Cambridge, and Ph.D. from Caltech, all in Chemical Engineering. He has also held faculty appointments at Purdue University and the University of Delaware, and held visiting positions at DuPont, Weyerhaeuser, and Stuttgart University. He has been recognized as a Fellow of multiple professional organizations including: IEEE, IFAC, AIMBE, and the AAAS. He was the President for the IEEE Control Systems Society in 2016, and was the Vice President of the International Federation of Automatic Control from 2014-1017. In 2005, he was awarded the Computing in Chemical Engineering Award from the AIChE for his innovative work in systems biology, and in 2015 received the Control Engineering Practice Award from the American Automatic Control Council for his development of the artificial pancreas.

In 2016, he was inducted as a Fellow into the National Academy of Medicine for his work on biomedical control. His research interests are in systems biology, network science, modeling and analysis of circadian rhythms, and drug delivery for diabetes.

Date & time

5.45pm 15 December 2017


Allan Barton Forum, Room 268, Level 2, College of Business and Economics


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