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Home > Press > Robert Clark to Lead Duke's Pratt School of Engineering

Clark, who previously was the Pratt School's senior associate dean, will serve as dean until a national search for Kristina Johnson's successor has been completed.

Robert Clark to Lead Duke's Pratt School of Engineering

Durham, NC | Posted on July 18th, 2007

Kristina M. Johnson, dean of Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering, has been appointed provost and senior vice president of academic affairs at The Johns Hopkins University.

Robert L. Clark, chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and Thomas Lord Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has agreed to become dean of Pratt, effective Aug. 15. Clark, who previously was the Pratt School's senior associate dean, will serve as dean until a national search for Johnson's successor has been completed, said Duke Provost Peter Lange.

"Rob Clark is an accomplished teacher, researcher and academic administrator whose collegial style and commitment to excellence are broadly recognized within the Pratt School, across Duke and within the engineering profession," Lange said. "I am very pleased he has agreed to serve as dean while we conduct our national search."

Clark, a specialist in acoustics and bionanomanufacturing, joined Duke's Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science in 1992 as an assistant professor. He holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from the Virginia Polytechnic Institute in Blacksburg, Va.

He is a founding directing of Duke's Center for Biologically Inspired Materials and Material Systems (, an interdisciplinary program focused on bionanomanufacturing, nanotherapeutics, biointerface science and nanobiomechanics. As CBIMMS director, Clark helped establish a graduate admissions program for a certificate in Biological and Biologically Inspired Materials. This program was initiated through support from the National Science Foundation's Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship Program -- one of the first NSF grants to support nanomaterials education at the graduate level.

Clark is particularly interested in enabling bionanomanufacturing by developing nanofabrication processes that are compatible with water, enable mass production without the need for a clean room and are biocompatible. In 2006, he served on North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley's Task Force on Nanoscience and North Carolina's Economy.

Clark earned a National Science Foundation CAREER Award and an Air Force Office of Scientific Research Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) for significant contributions to the field of adaptive structures involving noise and vibration control. In 1998, he won the R. Bruce Lindsey Award from the Acoustical Society of America and was subsequently named a fellow. He is also a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and an associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Clark was named senior associate dean at the Pratt School in 2001. In that position, he established a more robust research grant preparation and management office and cross-disciplinary initiatives in photonics, bioengineering and biologically inspired materials, and energy and the environment.

In his time at Duke, Clark has been active in campus service. He was a member of the executive committee of Academic Council, the university-wide faculty governance body; is founding chair of the materials governance committee; and currently serves as the chair of the patent policy committee.

Johnson, who takes office on Sept. 1, will be the first woman to hold Johns Hopkins' second-ranking position.

Since coming to Duke as engineering dean in 1999, the Pratt School has undergone significant growth in both size and quality. Of 50 new faculty members recruited during her tenure, 14 have won early career "young investigator" awards. The undergraduate student body has grown 20 percent and strong graduate programs have doubled in size.

Johnson oversaw planning, funding and construction of the 322,000-square-foot Fitzpatrick Center for Interdisciplinary Engineering, Medicine and Applied Sciences. The school's research expenditures have tripled to $60 million and the endowment has grown from $20 million to $200 million.

Duke President Richard H. Brodhead praised Johnson for her contributions at Duke.

"Kristina Johnson has been a transformational dean of engineering at Duke and a lively contributor to the larger university community," Brodhead said. "She is a person of great positive energy that inspires those around her. We'll hate to see her go, but are delighted to see her talents recognized with these new challenges and responsibilities."

In a letter to Duke Provost Lange, Johnson said, "The Pratt School is in a very strong position, given the foundation that has been established over the past eight years. So while there never is an ideal time to leave a job I have truly loved, for me this is a good time to take on a new and exciting responsibility and the challenge of institution-wide leadership.

"It has been my great privilege and honor to serve as the Dean of the Pratt School during a time of unprecedented expansion and growth."


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Deborah Hill
(919) 660-8403

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