NYU Tandon’s newest endowed professorships

Oded and Elisa

Oded Nov and Elisa Riedo

An endowed professorship is among the highest honors a faculty member can have bestowed upon them by a school, as a demonstration of excellence in their respective field. It serves as both a symbol of the esteem in which that professor is held and a lasting tribute to the person whose name it bears. 

This semester, Elisa Riedo and Oded Nov have, respectively, assumed the titles of Herman F. Mark Professor in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Morton L. Topfer Professor in Technology Management.

Nov, who chairs our Department of Technology Management and Innovation and has a faculty appointment at the Center for Urban Science and Progress, has wide-ranging interests that include human-computer interaction, interactive technology and decision-making, digital health, computer-supported cooperative work, and citizen science. Building upon Tandon’s commitment to research that increases equity and diversity, he recently undertook a broad investigation into how to best bring inclusive tech into the clinic, empowering healthcare workers to take advantage of data-driven research and improve health outcomes for all patients. Additionally, Nov has explored the use of AI-based chatbots to enhance patient-provider communication and developed an AI-based system that can flag errors in the ordering process for prescription drugs, an innovation that may not only reduce those errors but also relieve pharmacists’ workloads and better ensure patient privacy and security. 

His new title was made possible thanks to the generosity of Morton L. Topfer, a renowned entrepreneur and philanthropist who pursued graduate level studies in physics at our school. A co-founder and managing director of the investment firm Castletop Capital, Topfer was awarded an honorary Doctor in Engineering degree in 2002.

Riedo — who is also an affiliated Professor of Mechanical Engineering, a Professor of Physics at NYU’s College of Arts and Science, and a recent recipient of Tandon’s Excellence in Research award — is being honored for her body of work, which includes uncovering a new fundamental law of physics that can lead to the design of two-dimensional materials in ways that reduce friction and minimize energy loss, potentially informing new breakthroughs in quantum computing, more efficient manufacturing processes, and greener vehicles. In addition to helping make Tandon an important hub of sustainability research, like Nov, she has contributed enormously to the school’s reputation for health-related breakthroughs: in that realm, she has devised a method for not only creating artificial bone tissue that precisely matches the real thing, but does so in such microscopic detail that it includes tiny structures potentially important for stem cell differentiation, which is key to bone regeneration — a finding that has been referred to as the holy grail for orthopedic research.

Her endowed professorship is named for one our school’s most towering figures, Herman F. Mark, the founding director of the Polymer Research Institute and a pioneer in what was then an entirely new field. Mark, who passed away in 2002, made the school an epicenter of polymer research, and students flocked from all over the world to study with him.