Jay Walsh

  • Vice President for Research

Joseph (Jay) Walsh began his service as the University’s Vice President for Research on December 1, 2007. Walsh formerly served as senior associate dean of McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science (MEAS), where he is a professor of biomedical engineering. Walsh received a bachelor’s and master’s degree in electrical engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Immediately following receipt of his PhD in medical engineering from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Walsh joined the Northwestern faculty in 1988. He played an increasingly important role at McCormick, first as associate dean for graduate studies and research and later as senior associate dean.

Walsh’s early research on laser-tissue interactions helped frame the understanding of laser ablation; this work formed the scientific foundation for now standard laser-based procedures in medicine and surgery. In the past decade, his research has focused on diagnostic and therapeutic applications of light. Walsh and collaborators in otolaryngology have demonstrated the optical stimulation of sensory nerves with one goal being high spatial resolution stimulation for improved cochlear prosthetics. He is also working with a team of investigators from his home department and chemistry to develop optical sensors for quantification of analytes such as glucose with the goal of improving diabetes management.

In collaboration with clinicians in obstetrics and gynecology, dermatology, and urology on the Chicago campus and at Evanston-Northwestern Healthcare, he has developed a polarization-based optical imaging system for improved detection of various lesions. His current projects are each supported by the National Institutes of Health. Walsh has also excelled as a teacher and University citizen. In 1997 he was recognized as McCormick’s Teacher of the Year; in 2005 he was designated Advisor of the Year. Among Walsh’s broader University service has been his service as chair of the Program Review Council; his leadership of the committee that developed the current (RAS) model for graduate student tuition; and his membership on The Graduate School Administrative Board and the Evanston Campus Planning Advisory Committee. External to Northwestern, Walsh has played active roles in service as the president of the American Society for Lasers in Medicine and Surgery (2003-04) and as the chair for six international conferences.