The Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) commemorated its 10-year anniversary Friday, Sept. 17 through Saturday, Sept. 18, with special events highlighting the school’s ongoing mission to develop new solutions for pressing global challenges. Events were held online and in-person at the University of Chicago’s David Rubenstein Forum with presentations from industry leaders, PME faculty, and members of the scientific community.
In addition to marking Pritzker Molecular Engineering’s anniversary, the events were an opportunity for leaders in science and engineering to share their experiences with the school and discuss the state of the field. The program included lectures, panel discussions, fireside chats, and Q&A sessions with Nobel laureates Frances Arnold, Bernard L. Feringa, and William D. Philips; leadership from the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and National Institutes of Health; and leaders from the university, including Chancellor Robert J. Zimmer.
Matthew Tirrell, dean of Pritzker Molecular Engineering, spoke about the school’s past and future.
“PME started with the mission to affect profoundly the future of engineering and applied science research and education and ultimately to benefit humanity,” Tirrell said. “Our focus on a few particular transformative topics in engineering science has enabled us to compete with the very best traditional engineering programs in those areas.”
“The next 10 years will be about the scale of our existing activities, investment in strategically chosen new opportunities, broadening educational offerings, and the acceleration of commercialization activities.”
Alumni and Industry Day — September 17
Friday’s alumni and industry day set off the celebrations with faculty talks and industry and alumni panelists, focused on each of PME’s research themes — Immunoengineering, Materials Systems for Sustainability and Health, and Quantum Engineering.
Following the morning’s events, Dean Matthew Tirrell hosted a one-on-one chat with CEO of Valor Equity Partners Antonio Gracias (JD’98).
The two discussed trends in higher education, the shifting work environment in a post-Covid era, the importance of understanding market forces on industrial research, and the opportunities for growth in Chicago.
“Getting investors to think about the ideas and the companies here in Chicago, and bringing more capital here using virtual tools, is a very real opportunity for us,” said Gracias.
The day concluded with concurrent alumni panels, one focused on careers in industry and the other on careers in academia, and a poster session highlighting current student research.