Kristyn S. Masters, PhD, has been appointed chair of the University of Colorado Denver Department of Bioengineering and the director of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus Center for Bioengineering, following an extensive national search. These coupled roles provide the leadership to the unique cross-campus bioengineering program. For the past seven years, Masters has served as professor and vice chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Masters will become the Bioengineering Department’s second leader when she begins her new role in June; she was also appointed a tenured professor in bioengineering. Founding chair Robin Shandas, PhD, a University of Colorado Distinguished Professor, led Colorado’s first comprehensive bioengineering program for more than a decade before stepping down in 2022.
“Masters’ hiring represents moving our department to a second phase of history, from the startup phase to one of significant growth,” says Keith Neeves, PhD, professor of Bioengineering, who has served as interim department chair for the past year. “She presented a very aspirational vision for the department and that was quite compelling for the faculty and students, and we believe she will be a transformative leader.”
Cross-campus connection and collaboration
She will be responsible for developing and executing the Bioengineering Department’s ambitious vision for programmatic growth across research, education, entrepreneurship and service in bioengineering, for the dual-campus program.
“I am thrilled to be moving back to Colorado to join the Bioengineering department as its new chair! The vibrant and welcoming faculty, talented students and exceptional research strengths across both the Denver and Anschutz campuses are just a few of the qualities that drew me to this opportunity,” Masters says. “I look forward to continuing to grow the department at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as further deepening our connections and collaborations across the CU campuses.”
Masters joined the faculty at UW Madison as an assistant professor in 2004, after serving as a post-doctoral researcher in Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder.
Contributions to research, education and diversity
During her time at UW Madison, Masters built an impressive research portfolio, receiving more than $10 million in funding, and amassing more than 80 peer-reviewed publications on biomaterials and tissue engineering. In 2016, she was the recipient of the Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professorship and was also named a H.I. Romnes Faculty Fellow in recognition of her research endeavors.
Masters will move her lab, which focuses on creating tissue-engineered models of disease and investigating sexual dimorphism in cardiovascular disease, to CU Anschutz Medical Campus.
“I look forward to having Dr. Masters join the CU community and further strengthening the relationship between the Bioengineering Program and the School of Medicine,” says John Reilly Jr., MD, vice chancellor for Health Affairs, CU Anschutz Medical Campus, and dean, CU School of Medicine. “Her personal research focus will be an important addition to our research community on the Anschutz Medical Campus, particularly our Center for Women’s Health Research.”
Masters also brings with her a passion for education and diversity, equity and inclusion. At UW Madison, she received several teaching awards, served as a co-principal investigator for multiple grants focused on education, and held leadership posts for a number of teaching and mentoring programs. In 2018, she was elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering’s College of Fellows for her contributions to the design of disease-inspired culture platforms and mentorship of women in STEM fields.
“I could not be more excited to have Dr. Masters join us to lead the next phase of growth of our young and excellent bioengineering program. She energized our students, faculty and community with her vision, passion and unique experience spanning engineering and medical schools” says Martin Dunn, PhD, dean of the College of Engineering, Design and Computing. “I am also incredibly grateful for the confidence and significant investments by the CU Anschutz chancellor’s office in our strategic plans to take bioengineering to the next level in education and research in service of Colorado and our nation.”