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Jim Pfaendtner

Louis Martin-Vega Dean of Engineering


Jim Pfaendtner is the Louis Martin-Vega Dean of Engineering at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. With more than 11,000 students, 750 faculty and staff members and more than $200M in annual research expenditures, NC State’s College of Engineering is internationally recognized for the excellence of its research, education and outreach programs.

Pfaendtner is the 10th permanent dean to lead the College of Engineering, which marks its 100th anniversary in 2023. He joined NC State from the University of Washington (UW), where he served as the Connie and Steve Rogel Endowed Professor and chair of the Department of Chemical Engineering.

As chair, he led departmental scholarly and educational activities, including the implementation of a broad strategic initiative in infusing research and teaching with machine learning, AI and data science; expanding and strengthening the visibility and role of the department’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee; expanding the department’s philanthropic work; raising more than $10 million in major gifts including five new graduate fellowships; and elevating the UW College of Engineering’s efforts in faculty affairs and postdoctoral development.

He also held appointments at UW as professor of chemistry, associate vice provost for research computing and senior data science fellow at the university’s eScience Institute, and at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory as a senior scientist.

Pfaendtner serves on the Northwestern University Chemical and Biological Engineering External Advisory Board and is senior editor for the Journal of Physical Chemistry. In 2022, he became a member of the Washington State Academy of Sciences and received the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Computational Molecular Science and Engineering Forum Impact Award. Other awards and honors he has received include the University of Washington College of Engineering Faculty Junior Innovator Award, the University of Washington Presidential Distinguished Teaching Award, the American Chemical Society OpenEye Outstanding Junior Faculty Award, a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Award, and he was named a U.S. National Academy of Science Kavli Fellow.

Pfaendtner’s research has focused on using computer simulations to understand and control molecular scale driving forces for a wide range of applications spanning biotechnology to advanced materials. His lab at UW helped develop new methods to expand the capabilities of molecular simulation and use advanced research computing resources to solve challenging problems in the area of computational molecular science.

Pfaendtner holds a B.S. in chemical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from Northwestern University. He completed a National Science Foundation international postdoctoral fellowship with a focus on “multiscale modeling of conformational change in macromolecular assemblies.”