New SEAS Dean Named

John Lach, University of Virginia professor of electrical and computer engineering, is a respected academic leader, educator and researcher who works across disciplines.

John Lach
During his 19-year career, John Lach has worked extensively with departments, schools and initiatives to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration that supports strategic priorities.
May 31, 2019

John Lach, professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Virginia, has been named dean of the George Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Science, the university announced Friday.

He begins the role Aug. 15.

A respected academic leader, educator and accomplished researcher, Dr. Lach is a professor and director of cross-cutting initiatives at UVA. He has been a faculty member at UVA’s School of Engineering and Applied Science since 2000 and served as electrical and computer engineering department chair from 2012 to 2017.

"Dr. Lach is an excellent choice to lead our School of Engineering and Applied Science," GW President Thomas LeBlanc said. "His dedication to his field, students and faculty, combined with his collaborative spirit, enthusiasm and vision for growing SEAS programs and research, is inspiring."

As dean of SEAS, Dr. Lach will oversee a school comprising six departments, a diverse student body of approximately 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students and more than 85 faculty members as the university considers its next strategic plan, including focusing on preparing all GW students for an increasingly technological society. He is charged with enhancing SEAS’ teaching and research missions, working closely with students, collaborating with and growing faculty and fundraising.

"I am thrilled to join GW and the SEAS community," Dr. Lach said. "I look forward to working with students, faculty and staff to establish SEAS as a world-class engineering school that addresses the grand challenges of the mid-21st century by creating knowledge and educating leaders with a trans-disciplinary, impact-driven approach."

During his 19-year career, Dr. Lach has worked extensively with departments, schools and initiatives to foster cross-disciplinary collaboration that supports strategic priorities. He has led faculty hiring, growth and mentoring; an electrical and computer engineering undergraduate curriculum overhaul; department strategic planning, fundraising and budgeting; diversity efforts to increase participation of women in engineering; and classroom, laboratory and research facility renovations.

As researcher, Dr. Lach focuses on wireless technologies in health, such as body sensor networks to inform and improve patient care. He has been the principal investigator or co-principal investigator for more than 35 grants totaling more than $57 million, and he is an author of more than 170 published papers, including six Best Paper Awards.

"John has an impressive track record not only as an educator and researcher but also as an academic leader, especially in collaborating with faculty across the sciences and other disciplines," said Provost Forrest Maltzman. "He will lead a school that is clearly on an excellent trajectory, and I look forward to watching its continual evolution."

Recognized as an expert by colleagues in his field, Dr. Lach also is a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), associate editor for the Association for Computing Machinery Transactions on Computing for Healthcare and past associate editor for the IEEE Transactions on Computers. He is a founder and steering committee member of the IEEE Wireless Health Conference Series, a founder and co-director of the UVA Center for Wireless Health and associate director for translational research for the National Science Foundation’s Nanosystems Engineering Research Center (ERC) for Advanced Self-Powered Systems of Integrated Sensors and Technologies (ASSIST).

"We are very pleased to welcome as our new dean Dr. John Lach, who brings youthful energy, can-do attitude and passion for research and student experience," said Emilia Entcheva, professor of biomedical engineering and chair of the search committee. "He is a well-respected scholar in cyber-physical systems and smart wireless sensors for health application and has appreciation for innovation and cross-disciplinary research."

In recognition of his distinguished teaching, research and leadership, Dr. Lach won a UVA All-University Teaching Award in 2005 and the UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science Distinguished Faculty Award in 2016. As is typical with a deanship, Dr. Lach will be recommended for a position as tenured professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Dr. Lach received M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from UCLA. He received a B.S. in science, technology and society from Stanford University.

The university began the search for a new SEAS dean in May 2018 after former dean David Dolling stepped down after 10 years in the role. During the search, Rumana Riffat served as interim dean.

"Rumana really stepped up to the plate when asked to serve as interim dean," Dr. Maltzman said. "I have enjoyed partnering with her and really appreciate her leadership during this transition period. I also appreciate the work by the faculty, students, alumni and trustees who served as members of the search committee."

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