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Victor G. J. Rodgers

Professor of Bioengineering
Director, B2K Group
Dr. 
Victor G. J. Rodgers
Nanomedicine:
Working at the intersection of nanotechnology, biology, medicine and engineering, UCR bioengineers study transport phenomena in biological systems. Their work is leading to the development of new transplantable devices and more effective methods for delivering specific drugs and nutrients to targeted sites in the body.

Areas of Expertise

Select Honors and Distinctions

  • 2010 Distinguished Engineering Educator of the Year, The Engineers’ Council
  • 2009 Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering
  • 2007 Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)
  • 2005 Distinguished Educator Award, University of Iowa
  • 2004 Catalyst Award, University of Iowa
  • 2004 Collegiate Service Award, University of Iowa
  • 2001 Iowa daVinci Celebration and Conference for Leadership and Excellence in Engineering
  • 1998 Outstanding Achievement in Teaching, University of Iowa

Q&A

Q: Describe your work in nanomedicine and drug delivery.
My research group’s work is in understanding the physics that goes on during events in the human body’s cellular system, and biotransport in general, including drug delivery. In collaboration with Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Sciences David Lo, we are working on designing polymer nanoparticles as delivery vehicles for vaccine antigens to the mucosal system. The idea is to be able to deliver therapeutic agents across cellular barriers– which would be very effective for a controlling a number of diseases, like tuberculosis. Our part of the research involves whether electrostatics plays a role in this: what happens if we change the charge properties of the carrying particles, or other factors that would cause cells to engulf the particle and bring it in across the barrier.

Q: Your training is as a chemical engineer. What drew you to bioengineering?
The term explains itself: bioengineering implies helping people. It’s about people applying their talents to making the world a better place.

Q: Science and engineering are becoming an increasingly interdisciplinary. How does this fit with the work you are doing with faculty at UCR?
It’s the collaboration that makes the medical applications we work on very exciting for me. Whether you’re a chemical engineer, electrical engineer or biochemist, your skills are focused on one thing: the overall improvement of the quality of life. The new materials science facility at UCR is an example of this: where faculty from the College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences will be working alongside faculty from the Bourns College of Engineering. It’s an exciting time to be at UCR.

Q: The UCR communications campaign theme is “Living the Promise.” How do you feel the university and your work fits into this theme?
I came to UCR for the ability to be part of a young, growing program of stellar people doing top-level work. The college of engineering is only 20 years old, but it’s already establishing itself as a world-class program. The students here are incredible and I’m surrounded by great colleagues with a lot of positive energy.

I was also attracted to UCR because it already had an established reputation for diversity. When I received my Ph.D., I was one of only two African-Americans in the country to earn that honor in chemical engineering that year. I think it’s important to be a role model for others in the community. I continue to mentor K-12 students and encourage their interest in science and engineering; and I involve my students in programs that do the same.

Q: Do you have hobbies or outside interests that might be of interest to others (and might not be widely known)?
Research is my hobby. That may sound strange, but ever since my twin brother (who is a physicist) and I grew up in St. Louis doing science experiments and reading the Young People’s Science Encyclopedia, I’ve been fascinated with solving problems and wanted to do be involved in projects that help people. I just bought a vintage copy of the encyclopedia on eBay. Half of the material in there is wrong now, of course.

Q: What kind of music do you listen to?
My tastes are pretty varied. I just got the new Rihanna album which is great. I also listen to the older Santana music, and the St. Louis Orchestra’s recording of Adagio for Strings. Unfortunately, I will always associate it with scenes from the war movie Platoon.
Victor Rodgers "Whether you’re a chemical engineer, electrical engineer or biochemist, your skills are focused on one thing: the overall improvement of the quality of life."

—Victor Rodgers
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