Cody Howard
School of Engineering

School of Engineering selects new department chairs

Thu, 04/23/2020

LAWRENCE — Lisa Friis, professor of mechanical engineering, and Susan Stagg-Williams, professor of chemical & petroleum engineering, will assume the role of chair of their respective departments July 1. These appointments mark the first time in the 127-year history of the KU School of Engineering that a woman will serve as a department chair.

“Professors Friis and Stagg-Williams are both skilled communicators and bring distinguished records of teaching and research excellence to their new roles,” said Arvin Agah, dean of engineering. “I look forward to working with each of them as we continue to elevate the national stature of the School of Engineering.”

Friis replaces Ted Bergman. Stagg-Williams takes over for Laurence Weatherley. Bergman and Weatherley will each return to research and teaching roles at the School of Engineering.

More about Lisa Friis:

Lisa Friis earned a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering and a master's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Iowa, then a doctorate in mechanical engineering from Wichita State University. From 1987 to 2001, she was a research scientist at the Orthopedic Research Institute in Wichita. She joined the KU mechanical engineering department in 2001.

At KU, Friis helped develop the Product Design and Development track in the KU Bioengineering Graduate program and has served as its co-director since 2007. She has received several teaching awards, including the KU Outstanding Woman Educator Award in 2007 and a Kemper Fellowship in 2006. Friis has received several National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health Small Business Innovation Research awards, and she has licensed technologies that are currently commercialized. She is a fellow in the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. 

More about Susan Stagg-Williams:

Susan Stagg-Williams has been at KU since 1999. Her research is centered on converting biomass to fuels and higher value products. She holds a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Michigan and a doctorate in chemical engineering from the University of Oklahoma. She has served as the KU faculty athletics representative since 2013.

Stagg-Williams is the director of the KU Biodiesel Initiative and co-founder of the Kansas Biodiesel Consortium, which has been recognized with the Agent of Change Award by the Metropolitan Energy Center and Kansas City Regional and Central Kansas Clean Cities Coalition. She has held the John E. and Winifred E. Sharp Teaching Professorship, and she received several awards for teaching and service, including the Mortar Board Outstanding Educator Award, Gould Award for Distinguished Service in Undergraduate Advising and the Steeples Service to Kansans Award.

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