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Zorlutuna Receives 2019 Women in Engineering Impact Award

Nina Welding • DATE: March 8, 2019

On Sunday, March 3, during the women’s basketball game between the University of Notre Dame’s Lady Irish and the University of Virginia Cavaliers, the 2019 Catherine F. Pieronek Women in Engineering (WIE) Impact Award was presented to Pinar Zorlutuna, associate professor of aerospace and mechanical engineering.

The WIE Impact Award was established in 2017 in honor of Cathy Pieronek, associate dean for academic affairs and first director of the Women in Engineering program at Notre Dame, who passed away unexpectedly in 2015. Given annually, the award acknowledges a College of Engineering woman faculty or staff member who has made a dramatic and positive impact on women’s engineering experience. Recipients are selected by undergraduate and graduate students based on teaching excellence, counseling and mentorship of women students, exceptional service in support of women students, commitment to improving the educational experience of women students and advocacy of women’s engineering programs.

Zorlutuna, who joined the University in 2014, is the third WIE Impact Award winner. Her research explores the design of biomimetic environments to understand and control cell behavior, as well as cell-cell and cell-environment interactions through tissue engineering, genetic engineering and micro- and nanotechnology.

The co-owner of two patents related to biomaterials and tissue engineering, Zorlutuna has received a number of awards and honors as a young faculty member. In 2017 she received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award for a project titled “Tissue-engineering an Aging Heart: The Effect of Aged Cell Microenvironment in Myocardial Infarction,” which focuses on better understanding the cardiovascular disease progression in older tissue on order to find ways to decrease age-related cardiovascular conditions. Overall, she is working to improve outcomes in breast cancer diagnoses, heart transplants and other applications.

For her contributions in the classroom and through research, she was recently featured with other female faculty as part of the University’s celebration of International Women’s Day 2019 “In addition to scientific excellence,” says Zorlutuna, “I encourage my students to always pay attention to diversity and equality. My lab also supports workshops around campus where we give talks and do demonstrations for events where middle school students attend, to be role models to girls or students who are in need of such a model.”

For more information on Zorlutuna and her research, visit https://tissueeng.nd.edu/