The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) has chosen Dr. Cato T. Laurencin, University Professor and Albert and Wilda Van Dusen Distinguished Endowed Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, to receive the 2021 Hoover Medal.
The prize celebrates the civic and humanitarian achievements of an engineer whose professional and personal endeavors have advanced the well-being of humankind, and recognizes Laurencin as an extraordinary engineer who outside his role as an engineer and physician has dedicated his life to the promotion of racial and ethnic social justice and equity. He has been a mentor to generations of individuals who continue to pass on his lessons.
Laurencin, a fellow and director of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, will receive the Hoover Medal honor and deliver a related lecture during the 2021 AIChE Annual Meeting, to be held Nov. 7–11 in Boston, and online Nov. 15–19.
Established in 1929, the Hoover Medal is administered by a board representing five engineering organizations: AIChE, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), the American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical and Petroleum Engineers (AIME), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
Laurencin is internationally renowned for his work in biomaterials, stem cell science, nanotechnology, drug delivery systems, and for pioneering a new field, regenerative engineering. He is professor of chemical engineering, professor of materials science and engineering, and professor of biomedical engineering at UConn. He also serves as the chief executive officer of the Connecticut Convergence Institute for Translation in Regenerative Engineering and as director of UConn’s Raymond and Beverly Sackler Center for Biomedical, Biological, Physical and Engineering Sciences. Laurencin is also the founder of AIChE’s Regenerative Engineering Society.
Pertinent to the Hoover Medal recognition, Laurencin is being lauded for mentoring a generation of underrepresented engineers. The American Association for the Advancement of Science awarded him the AAAS Mentor Award for his pivotal role in developing underrepresented engineers in the United States. Laurencin is the first person to receive all three of the principal national honors for mentoring: the AAAS Mentor Award, the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math and Engineering Mentoring, and the Elizabeth Hurlock Beckman Award for Mentoring. The Society for Biomaterials created the Cato T. Laurencin Travelling Fellow Award, which supports underrepresented students pursuing biomaterials science and engineering.
Laurencin has also worked at the policy level to foster justice, equity, fairness and diversity. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities, the leading journal on the subject. He founded and chaired the National Academies Roundtable on Black Men and Black Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine, aimed at addressing issues at a system level.
His work has been recognized across engineering communities. Laurencin received AIChE’s William Grimes Award, and the Biomedical Engineering Society’s Diversity Award. The National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) awarded him its highest honor, the Percy Julian Medal.
Laurencin is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering, an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is the first individual to receive both the oldest and highest award of the National Academy of Engineering (the Simon Ramo Founder’s Award) and one of the oldest and highest awards of the National Academy of Medicine (the Walsh McDermott Medal).
Internationally, he is an elected fellow of the African Academy of Sciences, the India National Academy of Sciences, the Indian National Academy of Engineering, and the World Academy of Sciences. Laurencin is also an Academician and the 45th foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. An international fellow in biomaterials science and engineering, he received the Founders Award from the Society for Biomaterials, and the Acta Biomaterialia Gold Medal.
Laurencin earned his BSE in chemical engineering from Princeton University; his M.D., Magna Cum Laude, from the Harvard Medical School; and his Ph.D. in biochemical engineering and biotechnology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
In 2016, Laurencin received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation from President Barack Obama in ceremonies at the White House. It is the highest honor bestowed in America for technological achievement. In 2021, Dr. Laurencin was awarded the Spingarn Medal, the highest honor of the NAACP for his work in Regenerative Engineering.
The American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) is a professional society of more than 60,000 chemical engineers in 110 countries. Its members work in corporations, universities, and government using their knowledge of chemical processes to develop safe and useful products for the benefit of society. Through its varied programs, AIChE continues to be a focal point for information exchange on the frontiers of chemical engineering research in such areas as energy, sustainability, biological and environmental engineering, nanotechnology, and chemical plant safety and security. More information about AIChE is available at www.aiche.org.