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July 27, 2020

CBE’s Mike Graham awarded prestigious Steenbock Professorship

Written By: Jason Daley


University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering Michael Graham has received the university’s prestigious Steenbock Professorship in Engineering.

 Michael Graham
Michael Graham

“I’m thrilled to have received this professorship. It’s an incredible honor,” says Graham. “This type of discretionary funding allows me to take a few more risks in my research and explore some new things. Having that flexibility is really valuable.”

Graham received his PhD from Cornell University and joined the faculty of UW-Madison in 1994. His research uses theory and computation to study problems in fluid dynamics, rheology and transport phenomena, focusing on microscale flows and complex fluids as well as nonlinear dynamics in turbulent flows. Most recently, he has focused on applying machine learning and data science tools to problems in fluid dynamics.

His research includes investigations of the locomotion of microorganisms, investigations of blood at the cellular level, and flow of polymers and geometrically complex objects suspended in fluid. He is co-author of the textbook, “Modeling and Analysis Principles for Chemical and Biological Engineers,” and author of “Microhydrodynamics, Brownian Motion, and Complex Fluids,” an introduction to the dynamics and flow of complex fluids.

Graham’s work has led to high recognition from many professional societies and funding agencies, including a Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship from the U.S. Department of Defense in 2018 and the Stanley Corrsin Award from the American Physical Society, of which he also is a fellow. In 2019, he was invited to give the William R. Schowalter Lecture at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers meeting. He was also elected the president of the Society of Rheology for 2020 and previously served as the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Non-Newtonian Fluid Mechanics.

Graham says he is still determining how he will use his Steenbock funding, but he’s confident that it will give him the space to investigate new ideas. In the past, he says, similar discretionary funding allowed him the time to finish a textbook and undertake research into blood flow, which ultimately became a big part of his research program.

“This will allow me to poke around in new directions, which has been really valuable to me in the past,” says Graham.

Evelyn Steenbock founded the Steenbock Professorship program in the early 1980s in honor of her late husband, Harry Steenbock, a biochemistry professor emeritus who is noted for his pioneering Vitamin D technologies. The award provides research funds to recipients annually for 10 years with the possibility of renewal for another 10-year term.

Graham is among eight UW-Madison faculty in various fields that currently hold Steenbock Professorships.