Faculty Focus: Michelle Oyen
College of Engineering and Technology
Maybe Legos and “MacGyver” can’t solve all the world’s problems. However, Michelle Oyen is willing to try.
Oyen is on a complicated quest to improve health care through biomimetic materials, using and creating more natural-like substances that are better for the body and better for the environment.
“If you have arthritis and your cartilage is dodgy, instead of having a knee replacement surgery and replacing your bones and cartilage with metal and plastic, we make a material that’s more like the natural cartilage was and repair your joint using something that is more like something that was there in the first place,” said Oyen, an associate professor of biomedical engineering in ECU’s College of Engineering and Technology. She’s also co-director of ECU’s biomaterials research cluster.
She even uses Lego robots to help create bone-like material and channels TV’s MacGyver into her thinking.
“You put together the Legos and the 3D printer, and you can pretty much make a prototype of anything,” Oyen said. “Prototyping in a very MacGyver sense has become so much easier with these modern tools. Engineers are very MacGyver-ish.
”She has a passion for women’s health issues and is part of a group that will soon publish a journal focused on pregnancy.
“We’ve done some work on premature birth and trying to understand how the placenta develops and how that can go wrong and how that can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth,” Oyen said.
The Minnesota native spent 12 years at the University of Cambridge in England helping start its biomedical engineering program. She arrived at ECU in August 2018 to continue her focus on teaching and improving health care through engineering.
“It’s all using types of engineering tools to try to understand medical problems,” Oyen said. “There are so many problems in healthcare, and we have all this technology we can use to help people.”
– Ken Buday
Scott E. Francis has been appointed associate vice chancellor and president of the ECU Alumni Association. Francis comes to ECU from the University of Florida, where he was responsible for the support, training, direction and stewardship of 95 Gator Clubs, six affiliate groups and more than 700 leaders representing 422,000 alumni. At ECU, Francis will be responsible for representing the interests of nearly 170,000 alumni, lead alumni staff and provide direction on the association’s programs and component parts. Francis has a bachelor’s degree from Stockton University and a master’s degree from Western Illinois University.