Deirdre Meldrum is a visionary and a leader of science and technology advancement who has spent her career blurring the traditional boundaries of engineering and science to create new paths of discovery. She is known for her ability in her research and training of aspiring engineers to integrate multiple disciplines of engineering, including civil, electrical, mechanical, chemical, and materials, with other fields such as biology, nanotechnology, genomics, oceanography and environmental studies.
Meldrum started her career at NASA Johnson Space Center as a co-op student instructing astronauts on the Shuttle Mission Simulator. Before beginning her doctoral program at Stanford, she was a member of the technical staff at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She tested Galileo Spacecraft flight hardware and software and performed theoretical and experimental work in identification and control of large flexible space structures and robotics to advance space antennas and the space station.
Prior to joining ASU in January, Meldrum was a professor of electrical engineering, director of the Genomation Laboratory, and director of the Microscale Life Sciences Center (MLSC) at the University of Washington, Seattle. The MLSC is a Center of Excellence in Genomic Science funded by the NIH National Human Genome Research Institute. Meldrum and her research teams focus on the development of automated systems to help further the study of DNA, proteins, and cells in support of the Human Genome Project and understanding of the human genome. In a totally different research area, Meldrum also led a project with the Washington State Department of Transportation to design and implement a fuzzy logic ramp metering control algorithm that is in use today on all 126 ramps of the Seattle freeway system.
As dean of the Ira A. Fulton School of Engineering, Meldrum has primary responsibility for strategic planning, external and community relations, and management of the organization. One of her top priorities is preparing the next generation of engineers to excel in our evolving global community. Aspiring engineers will need to have multifaceted training and the ability to apply their knowledge and skills to dynamic challenges such as sustainability, medicine and energy. Meldrum will ensure that hands-on research and opportunities that reach beyond the field of engineering are incorporated into the experience and education of the 'Fulton Engineer.'
In addition to her position as engineering dean, Meldrum is the director of the Center for EcoGenomics at ASU's Biodesign Institute. In September 2006, she was awarded a second five-year $18 million grant to continue her Microscale Life Sciences Center (MLSC) and will continue to oversee the program's research, launched in 2001, as part of the Center for EcoGenomics.
The MLSC research focuses on the use of innovative microscale technology to solve mysteries about cell growth and death, which is anticipated to reveal crucial knowledge about diseases such as cancer, heart disease and stroke. Researchers in the MLSC are from ASU, University of Washington, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, and Brandeis University.
This past summer Meldrum's research took her aboard the research vessel R/V Atlantis for eighteen days to study the biology, geology, chemistry and physical processes of an active hydrothermal vent field in the Northeast Pacific Ocean. Meldrum's team is in early stages of developing sensors on automated platforms to monitor microbial populations on the seafloor and in the overlying ocean. This research will be enabled by NEPTUNE, a project to build a cabled underwater observatory with high power and bandwidth on the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate in the northeast Pacific Ocean for real-time observations and experiments enabled by sensor networks. Meldrum is a team member of the NEPTUNE project led by Professor John Delaney at the University of Washington. The NEPTUNE project is the regional part of the Ocean Research Interactive Observatory Networks (ORION) Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI).