Matthew Tirrell, Pritzker Director
Matthew Tirrell, a pioneering researcher in the fields of biomolecular engineering and nanotechnology, is the founding Pritzker Director of the Institute for Molecular Engineering. Tirrell specializes in the manipulation and measurement of the surface properties of polymers, materials that consist of long, flexible, chain molecules. His work combines microscopic measurements of intermolecular forces with creation of new structures. His work has provided new insight into polymer properties, especially surface phenomena such as adhesion, friction, and biocompatibility, and new materials based on self-assembly of synthetic and bio-inspired materials.
Tirrell comes to UChicago from the University of California at Berkeley, where he has served since 2009 as the Arnold and Barbara Silverman Professor and chair of the Department of Bioengineering, as professor of materials science and engineering and chemical engineering, and as a faculty scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He has received many honors, including election to both the National Academy of Engineering and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Prior to his appointment at Berkeley, Tirrell served for a decade as dean of engineering at UC Santa Barbara, where he helped build the program's national prominence.
Tirrell began his academic career in 1977 at the University of Minnesota, where he served as Shell Distinguished Chair in Chemical Engineering, Earl E. Bakken Professor of Biomedical Engineering, director of the Biomedical Engineering Institute, and head of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science. Tirrell moved to the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1999, where for a decade he was Professor of Chemical Engineering, Materials, Biomolecular Science and Engineering, and Richard A. Auhll Professor and Dean of the College of Engineering. He received his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from Northwestern University in 1973 and his doctoral degree in polymer science and engineering from the University of Massachusetts in 1977.