UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) has inducted Tonya L. Peeples, associate dean for equity and inclusion and professor of chemical engineering in the Penn State College of Engineering, to its College of Fellows.
As a result of COVID-19 concerns, AIMBE’s annual meeting and induction ceremony scheduled for March 29-30, 2020, was cancelled. Under special procedures, Peeples was remotely inducted along with 156 colleagues who make up the AIMBE College of Fellows Class of 2020.
Election to the AIMBE College of Fellows is among the highest professional distinctions accorded to medical and biological engineers. The College of Fellows comprises the top 2% of medical and biological engineers, including three Nobel Laureates and 18 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Science and/or Technology and Innovation. College membership honors those who have made outstanding contributions to "engineering and medicine research, practice, or education” and to "the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of medical and biological engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to bioengineering education."
As per an AIMBE statement, Peeples was nominated, reviewed and elected by peers and members of the College of Fellows for “her seminal contributions in unique molecular physiological functions to enable stability in industrial and environmental biocatalysts and green processing.” She conducts research in biochemical engineering via an understanding of biological systems to induce reliable reactions in green chemical process applications. Her research uses lessons from nature to engineer stability that enables milder conditions for removing complex molecules from the environment or for producing valuable products such as environmentally friendly dyes, medicines and other specialty chemicals.
“This is a wonderful moment to reflect for the 2020 College of Fellows, as induction is a great distinction,” Peeples said. “I’m honored to be recognized for my scholarly work, especially by such an esteemed organization.”
Prior to joining Penn State in August 2018, Peeples served at the University of Iowa as the associate dean for diversity and outreach in the College of Engineering and professor of chemical and biochemical engineering. As an individual researcher and administrator and through her involvement in national partnerships, Peeples has worked to advance diversity and promote opportunities for all students to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). She is a member of the leadership team for a new Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science Alliance program, supported by the National Science Foundation. The program, Aspire: The National Alliance for Inclusive and Diverse STEM Faculty, aims to develop inclusive institutional cultures in higher education that support the access and success of all undergraduate STEM students, especially those from underrepresented groups.
“It is great to see Tonya receive this recognition from AIMBE for her professional accomplishments,” said Phillip Savage, head of the Department of Chemical Engineering and Walter L. Robb Family Endowed Chair. “Having another faculty member be named a fellow of their professional society further underscores the achievements and quality of our chemical engineering faculty.”