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Strategic Research Areas

Innovative research and pursuit of varied applications by faculty and researchers at the Vanderbilt University School of Engineering have helped the School define its four top areas for growth, exploration and discovery. Those areas, or core competencies, are energy and natural resources, medicine and health, security, and entertainment.

The ability to capitalize on interdisciplinary research initiatives radically advances this mission, particularly given the many important alliances inside and outside the university among School of Engineering faculty; colleagues from other Vanderbilt schools; medical center researchers and physicians; and other research centers such as Oak Ridge National Laboratory, DARPA, National Institutes of Health, and other government agencies. That collaboration across departments, disciplines and the world is key to the School's contribution to addressing global grand challenges by solving real-world problems.


Energy and Natural Resources

The School of Engineering is recognized as an international research leader in areas of structural reliability and risk, nuclear waste management, and teaching assessment approaches to environmental decision making.

Medicine and Health

Critical research initiatives are ongoing in cellular dynamics in immunology, cardiology, cancer, rehabilitation engineering, as well as MRI and imaging systems to guide surgery. Other research efforts include laser-tissue interaction, biomedical optics, and bionanotechnology.


A large number of faculty and students engage in cutting-edge research for critical commercial and governmental agencies that involve systems security and privacy. Research efforts include privacy-aware health information systems, foundations for resilient systems design, system security co-design, and secure control systems for industry and society.


Research focus includes computer networking and network security, human-machine teaming, machine learning, and software engineering.