The Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin has named Richard R. Neptune, an accomplished professor and researcher, as the next chair of the Department of Mechanical Engineering.

Neptune, who joined UT Austin as a faculty member in 2001 and currently holds the John T. MacGuire Professorship in Mechanical Engineering, has served as interim chair of the department since January. He will begin his permanent appointment as chair on Sept. 1, 2016.

“I am extremely pleased to announce that Rick will continue to serve as chair of our Department of Mechanical Engineering,” said Sharon L. Wood, dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering. “Throughout his career at UT Austin, Rick has been an outstanding educator and researcher, and I believe he is the right person to lead mechanical engineering into the future.”

The Cockrell School selected Neptune after a competitive national search that began when previous chair Jayathi Murthy was named dean of the Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Neptune, who is an internationally recognized leader in the areas of biomechanics and neuromotor control of human movement, leads the Neuromuscular Biomechanics Lab at UT Austin. Neptune’s work is aimed at improving the quality of life for various patient populations including lower-limb amputees, those with post-stroke hemiparesis and wheelchair users. His lab also uses additive manufacturing techniques to optimize orthotic and prosthetic designs for better performance. He has a patent for a prosthetic ankle joint invention.

Neptune is the recipient of numerous teaching and research awards, including the American Society of Biomechanics Young Scientist Award, National Science Foundation CAREER Award, Engineering Society of Detroit/National Multiple Sclerosis Society Da Vinci Award, Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company Award for Excellence in Engineering Teaching and the university’s Joe and Bettie Branson Ward Endowed Excellence Award. In 2016, he was named a fellow of the American Society of Biomechanics.

Neptune received his Ph.D., master’s degree and bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Davis. Before coming to UT Austin, Neptune served as a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Calgary and biomedical engineer at the Palo Alto VA Research and Development Center.

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cover of Texas Engineering magazine with group of students
cover of Texas Engineering magazine with group of students