Engineering’s Kristi Kiick receives Leverhulme Visiting Professorship, Fulbright Award to study in the UK

For nearly two decades, Kristi Kiick, the Blue and Gold Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Delaware, has earned international renown as an inventor and an expert in the design and synthesis of biologically inspired and biologically produced materials.

For the next year, Kiick will share her expertise across the Atlantic in the United Kingdom. Through a Leverhulme Visiting Professorship, which provides funds for eminent scholars to visit the UK, and a Fulbright Award, one of the most prestigious international scholarship opportunities, Kiick will give lectures and conduct research in collaboration with faculty and students at the United Kingdom’s University of Nottingham.

Kiick is serving as a Leverhulme Visiting Professor at the University of Nottingham from July 1, 2019 through December 31, 2019. She is being hosted by Felicity Rose, head of the Division of Regenerative Medicine and Cellular Therapies at the University of Nottingham School of Pharmacy. Kiick will also collaborate with Nick Hannan, an assistant professor in translational stem cell biology, and Ricky Wildman, professor of multiphase flow and mechanics, both of the University of Nottingham. They plan to integrate tunable biopolymer scaffolds, which have been pioneered at UD, with the outstanding research in stem cell biology and materials processing expertise at the University of Nottingham.

This research collaboration could ultimately advance the development of therapies to treat diseases of the cornea, the front surface of the eye, and the gut. Kiick and collaborators at the University of Nottingham will use biopolymer-based materials to study tissue progenitor cells from corneal and intestinal sources in two-dimensional and three-dimensional culture formats. Tissue progenitor cells are similar to stem cells and differentiate into more specific cell types. Using two-photon polymerization (2PP), an advanced technology used to fabricate nanostructured materials, the collaborative research team will pattern geometries, mechanical properties, and signaling molecules in the materials pioneered by Kiick, to develop a fundamental understanding of the drivers of differentiation and cellular organization in epithelial mucosal tissues, the types of tissues that line the cornea and gut.

From Jan. 1, 2020 through July 31, 2020, Kiick will continue her studies at the University of Nottingham as a Fulbright U.S. Scholar.

“I am delighted and extremely honored to have been sponsored by both of these international programs,” Kiick said. “I admire the excellence of the faculty and research programs at the University of Nottingham and am looking forward to being embedded in an environment in which materials fabrication, stem cell biology, and drug delivery are closely linked in generating materials platforms for improving human health. My family and I are also looking forward to the significant opportunities for cultural exchange, and are working on our lists of places to see, food to eat, and people to meet. We are very, very grateful for this opportunity.”

Penny Egan, executive director, US-UK Fulbright Commission, noted the hopes of the sponsor of the Fulbright scholarships. The late Arkansas Sen. J. William Fulbright holds the record as the longest serving chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (1959-1974), and he sponsored the legislation in hopes of fostering exchange between students from around the world.

“Senator Fulbright believed that educational exchange had the power to turn nations into people and expand the boundaries of human wisdom, empathy and perception,” Egan said. “It is in this spirit that this cohort of Scholars will begin their Fulbright awards, opening up new experiences and exposing themselves to new ideas that will change them and will long outlast their time abroad.”

About Kristi Kiick

Kristi Kiick is a Blue and Gold Distinguished Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and recently completed an administrative role as deputy dean of UD’s College of Engineering. Her internationally recognized research focuses on the synthesis, characterization, and application of protein, peptide, and self-assembled materials for applications in tissue engineering, drug delivery, and bioengineering, with specific research in cardiovascular, vocal fold, and cancer therapies.

A Fellow of the American Chemical Society, Kiick has published more than 150 articles, book chapters, and patents, and has delivered over 160 invited and award lectures. Kiick’s honors have included several awards (Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation New Faculty, Beckman Young Investigator, National Science Foundation CAREER, DuPont Young Professor, and Delaware Biosciences Academic Research Award, Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professor, Fulbright Scholar) as well as induction as a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering and of the American Chemical Society Division of Polymer Chemistry. She also serves on the advisory and editorial boards for multiple international journals and research organizations. Kiick received her bachelor of science in chemistry from UD as a Eugene du Pont Memorial Distinguished Scholar, where she graduated summa cum laude, and a master of science in chemistry as an NSF Graduate Fellow at the University of Georgia. She worked in industry (Kimberly Clark Corporation) as a research scientist prior to obtaining master of science and doctoral degrees in polymer science and engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, completing her doctoral research at the California Institute of Technology as a recipient of a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) fellowship.

About the Leverhulme Visiting Professorship

The Leverhulme Trust was established by the will of William Hesketh Lever, the founder of Lever Brothers. Since 1925 the trust has provided grants and scholarships for research and education. Today, it is one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, distributing approximately £100m a year ($122 million).

Leverhulme visiting professorships enable UK institutions to invite an eminent researcher from overseas to enhance the skills and knowledge of the academic staff and students. The visiting professor brings expertise that is not otherwise available in the UK.

For more information about the trust, please visit and follow the trust on Twitter@LeverhulmeTrust

About the US-UK Fulbright Commission

The US-UK Fulbright Commission fosters intercultural understanding between the USA and the UK through educational exchange. Since the commission was founded by diplomatic treaty in 1948, it has enabled more than 23,000 British and American citizens to study, research or teach at universities on either side of the Atlantic — building relationships, knowledge, and leadership in support of the long-term interests of the United States and the United Kingdom. In the 21st century, Fulbrighters work to address major global challenges, from energy sustainability and economic development to public health and food security.

As part of the EducationUSA network, the commission offers British students free, accurate, and comprehensive information about opportunities to study at accredited universities in the USA, as well as delivering the Sutton Trust US Programme for low-income UK students to explore US higher education.

About the Fulbright Awards

The US-UK Fulbright Commission provides the only bilateral transatlantic scholarship program in the UK, offering awards for study or research in any field, at any accredited US or UK university.

The commission selects scholars through a rigorous application and interview process, looking for academic excellence alongside a focused application, a range of extracurricular and community activities, demonstrated ambassadorial skills, a desire to further the Fulbright mission and a plan to give back to the US upon returning.

Typical grants include a maintenance allowance and/or a contribution towards tuition fees. Fulbright scholars receive administrative support and a cultural education program including visa support, a comprehensive pre-departure orientation, enrichment opportunities while abroad, a re-entry session and access to a global alumni network.