Alumnus Jason Burdick (PhDChemEngr’02) will return as faculty early next year, becoming the first Bowman Endowed Professor.
“I have great memories from my time as a graduate student at CU Boulder, from interactions with my peers and mentors to exploring the Rocky Mountains,” Burdick said. “I learned to be a researcher here and found my passion for mentoring students. It is really fantastic to be returning.”
While earning his PhD, Burdick studied under Distinguished Professor Kristi Anseth. He has since kept in contact with his former mentor, as well as with faculty who provided support and guidance to him, including Professor Stephanie Bryant and Distinguished Professor Christopher Bowman.
“Kristi has remained a fantastic mentor during my years at the University of Pennsylvania and we have kept in touch about potential opportunities back in Boulder,” Burdick said. “It has been really great to follow the developments at CU Boulder in the last decade, including the hiring of many great faculty and the initiation of new programs and infrastructure such as the BioFrontiers Institute and connections to the CU Anschutz campus.”
As the first Bowman Endowed Professor, Burdick’s hire was made possible through the establishment of the Barbara, Cheryl and Clair Bowman Endowment. Professor Bowman, CU Boulder and the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering formed the endowment through a portion of their shared royalties from a polymeric dental technology patent licensed to 3M.
“The Bowman Endowment was established to enable us to bring world-class educators and researchers like Jason here to CU Boulder,” said Department Chair and Professor Will Medlin. “The fact that Jason is an alumnus with a longstanding and deep connection to the department makes him an especially fitting holder of the Bowman Professorship, which was so generously funded by the Bowman family. The endowment will bring immediate and long-term positive impacts for our students and faculty alike.”
Burdick’s primary research field is biomaterials, which his group designs for therapeutic applications or as tissue models to better understand biological questions and for the screening of new drugs.
“We apply the fundamentals of materials science to design biomaterials with new properties,” Burdick said. “We are very interested in the translation of technology developed in the laboratory into new products, including therapeutic biomaterials.”
His research group has focused on biofabrication — 3D bioprinting — in recent years, he said. They have been using automated tools to process biomaterials and cells into desired configurations.
Burdick will primarily work within the BioFrontiers Institute and is also exploring opportunities with the Materials Science and Engineering Program for student recruitment and research opportunities.
When he begins at CU Boulder in January 2022, Burdick hopes to recruit graduate students who are excited about leveraging innovative materials design for the development of new materials for medicine.
“Students may come from scientific backgrounds that range from materials science to chemical engineering to biology,” he said. “I am very interested in recruiting a diverse laboratory where our differences — gender, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation — are embraced and encouraged to make our science even better.”
With family in the surrounding states, and the draw of Colorado’s ski season and hiking trails, Burdick is excited to be returning to Boulder and its namesake university.
“Although both have changed quite a bit since I was here as a graduate student, it feels like a bit of a homecoming,” he said. “I look forward to reconnecting with previous friends and colleagues and meeting many new faculty and students in the upcoming years.”