Diller Receives ASME's Nerem Education and Mentorship Medal

June 10, 2019
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Mentoring an astronaut, serving as a department chair of two UT Austin engineering departments, and having his research used as expert testimony in the infamous 1998 McDonald’s hot coffee lawsuit are just three unique accomplishments that showcase the wide and varied impact of Kenneth Diller’s career in education and research.

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In recognition of 46 years of outstanding educational achievements, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers has awarded Diller with the Robert M. Nerem Education and Mentorship Medal. In addition to mentorship, the award recognizes Diller for co-authoring a prominent biotransport textbook and for establishing three biomedical engineering departments within The University of Texas System.

Diller, professor in the Cockrell School’s Department of Biomedical Engineering, is an internationally recognized authority in heat and temperature-related effects in living tissues and how they may be applied in the design of therapeutic devices. He has mentored more than 50 graduate students, thousands of undergraduate students, and countless faculty at UT Austin and across the U.S. Diller holds the Robert M. and Prudie Leibrock Endowed Professorship in Engineering, served as chair of the Cockrell School’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, and was the founding chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering.

“The Nerem Medal is particularly meaningful to me,” says Diller. “Bob Nerem was a great mentor to me through all stages of my professional career, beginning when I first joined the faculty at UT Austin. His impact as a mentor in the field of biomedical engineering at a national level is nearly unparalleled.”

His teaching in biomedical engineering focuses on biotransport and the capstone Senior Design course. He also teaches a freshman signature course titled Science and the Bible that is open to all UT Austin students. For 12 years, he taught a UT Austin Maymester course in biotransport at the University of Cambridge, where he holds a lifelong appointment in Clare Hall College.

“The Maymester course format provides an outstanding mentoring environment owing to the unique opportunity to engage in-depth with students both intellectually and personally. I always enjoyed exploring stimulating ideas and philosophies with students both inside and outside the classroom in Cambridge,” Diller says.

Diller has published more than 290 refereed papers and book chapters and written or edited 17 books. His research has produced more than three dozen patents and the formation of two medical device companies. He is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Biomedical Engineering Society, and the Society for Cryobiology. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Ohio State University and his doctor of science degree from MIT.