Wendi Heinzelman

Dean of the Hajim School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Wendi Heinzelman, who became dean of the Hajim School on July 1, 2016, has been a proven administrator, a researcher of international distinction, and an award-winning teacher since joining the University of Rochester in 2001.

Administrative leadership

In her previous role as dean of graduate studies for Arts, Sciences & Engineering, Heinzelman created an academic and administrative structure that encouraged success for master’s and doctoral candidates. 

For example, she worked with the Arts, Sciences and Engineering faculty to develop innovative specialized and interdisciplinary graduate programs, such as a master’s degree in alternative energy and a graduate degree program in technical entrepreneurship and management, for those with tech backgrounds who are seeking more entrepreneurial experience. She worked closely with the Goergen Institute for Data Science to develop the first master’s degree in data science, which provides training in techniques for analysis of large data sets. Much of the University’s growth in graduate education has been in these newer, more specialized programs.

Heinzelman also provided a major focus on recruiting and retaining under-represented minority graduate students, resulting in an increase in applications from this group of 200 percent and an increase in enrollments of 73 percent.

As dean of the Hajim School, Heinzelman oversees a variety of programs, departments, and institutes, including audio and music engineering, biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, computer science, data science, electrical and computer engineering, materials science, mechanical engineering, and optics.

The Hajim School’s enrollment has grown from an undergraduate student body of 747 in 2008, to 1,750 in 2015. The school has 88 tenured and tenure-track faculty members, 17 additional full-time faculty, 310 master’s students, 320 doctoral students, and more than 20,000 alumni.

“Engineering is key to solving some of our most difficult societal problems and to developing innovations that will transform society in the years to come,” Heinzelman notes.  “Our faculty and students are engaged in both disciplinary and interdisciplinary research that will have lasting impacts. Engineering has relevance to the arts, medicine, social sciences, natural sciences, business and education, and these disciplines have relevance to engineering; hence, as dean, one of my goals will be to help find these connections and foster collaborations that will lead to innovative research and educational initiatives. I hope to lead the Hajim School to increased prominence in research and education, to develop interdisciplinary collaborations across the University of Rochester and beyond, and to cultivate in our current and future students the passion to change the world.”

Research contributions

Heinzelman’s research interests span diverse areas from wireless communications and networking to mobile-cloud computing to multimedia communications. Much of this work involves the design of advanced communication and networking protocols and architectures, in collaboration with experts across the University, at higher education institutions around the world, and in industry and the military. Applications include providing better communications tools for soldiers in the field, understanding pollution in places such as India, enabling the continuous monitoring of wildlife and the environment, learning about family dynamics and healthy interpersonal communications, and designing a programming framework to support the development of health management applications.

Heinzelman has contributed to 12 textbooks and has published in over 50 journals and more than 100 conference and workshop proceedings. According to Google Scholar, she has been cited more than 36,000 times—20,000 times since 2009—with a faculty H-index of 41. She is one of the top 2,000 most cited authors in computer science according to CiteSeer, which also put her articles in the top 10 (in the year 2000), top 30 (2002), and top 60 (1999). Over her career, she has been the principal or co-principal investigator on more than 20 programs with combined funding support of nearly $11,000,000.

Heinzelman has been on teams that have been awarded seven U.S. patents and one British patent.

Honors and awards

Heinzelman, who holds a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University, and master’s and doctoral degrees from MIT, received the University’s prestigious G. Graydon Curtis ’58 and Jane W. Curtis Award for Teaching Excellence in 2003. Two years later, she received the National Science Foundation’s CAREER award and the Office of Naval Research’s Young Investigator (YIP) award. Heinzelman is an ACM Distinguished Scientist and has been an Eastman Kodak Company Fellow and a National Science Foundation Fellow. In 2016 she was named a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) for her contributions to algorithms, protocols, and architectures for wireless sensor and mobile networks. Fewer than one out of a thousand voting members are selected annually for this honor.

Encouraging women in engineering

With a lifelong mission of encouraging more women to choose engineering and computer science careers, Heinzelman co-founded and co-leads N^2 Women (Networking Networking Women), the first organization of its kind dedicated to supporting women in the field of networking and communications. Since its inception in 2006, the organization has grown to more than 900 members from around the world. N^2 Women receives support from ACM SIGMOBILE, IEEE ComSoc, IEEE Computer Society, Microsoft Research, HP Labs, and Google Research. These organizations provide funding for students affiliated with N^2 Women to attend conferences and other academic and professional networking events.

Teaching and Mentoring

Heinzelman has taught classes on digital signal processing, wireless communications and wireless ad-hoc and sensor networks. Her courses have been taken by nearly 400 undergraduate and graduate students. In her 15 years at the University, Heinzelman has advised close to 75 postdoctoral, doctoral, master’s, and undergraduate students, including 15 currently. Her students have gone on to distinguished academic positions around the world and industry careers at Intel, Qualcomm, General Electric, Apple, Dell, and elsewhere.