Rice Engineering names senior associate deans

Lisa Biswal and Renata Ramos expand leadership roles, guide school’s strategic direction.

Lisa Biswal and Renata Ramos

The George R. Brown School of Engineering at Rice University announced the promotion of two associate deans, effective July 1.

Lisa Biswal, associate dean of faculty development and the William M. McCardell Professor in Chemical Engineering, has been promoted to senior associate dean of the school. Renata Ramos, associate dean of academic affairs and teaching professor in bioengineering, has been promoted to senior associate dean of academic affairs.

The school’s new leadership structure aligns with Rice’s vision to grow the research enterprise and further the impact of faculty scholarship. The recent expansion of Rice’s Office of Research and the creation of its Office of Innovation provide schools across the university with centralized resources and support.

In the newly created role of senior associate dean, Biswal focuses on empowering tenured, tenure-track, and research faculty to excel in scholarship, research and translation. She will collaborate closely with the university’s Office of Research and directors of various centers and institutes to engage faculty participation and maximize the impact and visibility of the school’s research initiatives.

Biswal will aid in promoting interdisciplinary research and supporting faculty recruiting efforts. She will also interface with the Office of Innovation to support the various innovation and entrepreneurship activities within the school and with industrial partners.

“I have enjoyed advocating for and supporting the academic and scholarly endeavors of our engineering faculty,” said Biswal. “Looking ahead, I am excited to further strategize and identify opportunities for growth and advancement of our school.”

Biswal, who joined the Rice faculty in 2006, leads the Soft Matter Engineering Laboratory and holds a joint appointment in materials science and nanoengineering at Rice. She earned her Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Stanford University, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research aims to utilize innovative solutions for a diverse range of technological challenges in the fields of materials and energy.

Ramos assumes the role of senior associate dean for academic affairs where she represents the Dean's Office on undergraduate and graduate academic matters. She provides support for teaching faculty development programs, promotes educational innovation and collaborates with school chairs to enhance academic programming.

In her expanded role, Ramos oversees diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and manages accreditation and assessment processes, ensuring a comprehensive approach to student success and equitable opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds throughout their curriculum. This alignment enables more effective program evaluation and streamlined curricular changes for improved program quality.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to continue to work with so many accomplished students, faculty and staff,” Ramos said. “Expanding the role of academic affairs to include areas such as diversity, equity, and inclusion, and accreditation, provides us with a unique opportunity to implement curricular innovation and develop educational programs that best support all of our students and faculty. I am fortunate to work alongside a team of staff and faculty that shares our school’s strategic vision and is committed to student success.”

Ramos earned her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Arizona and joined the Rice faculty in 2008. She received Rice University’s George R. Brown Award for Superior Teaching in 2014, 2017, and 2019, the Biomedical Engineering Division Teaching Award from the American Society for Engineering Education in 2014, the ASEE’s Pilkington Outstanding Educator Award in 2023, and was recently elected a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.

"The leadership, dedication, and thoughtfulness demonstrated by Lisa and Renata since joining the Rice faculty have unquestionably contributed to the success of our school," said Luay Nakhleh, the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Engineering. "I am excited to collaborate further with them as we shape the strategic direction of the school, leveraging their enhanced roles to strengthen our educational programs, increase visibility of our research initiatives, and foster an even stronger culture of innovation."