Engineering Senior Associate Dean Paschal is 2021 AIMBE Fellow

Senior Associate Dean and Biomedical Engineering Professor Cynthia B. Paschal has been elected to the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering College of Fellows. Dr. Paschal will be inducted during AIMBE’s Annual Event on March 26 along with 174 colleagues who make up the Fellow Class of 2021. The AIMBE College of Fellows is comprised of the top two percent of medical and biological engineers in the country.

Two professors with appointments in the School of Engineering also have been elected to the Fellow Class of 2021. They are Bradley Malin, professor of biomedical informatics, biostatistics, and professor of computer science; and Reed Omary, Carol D. and Henry P. Pendergrass Professor and Chair of Radiology and Radiological Sciences and professor of biomedical engineering.

Paschal was chosen for “contributions to service-learning, international, and imaging education and to magnetic resonance imaging applications, especially in the heart and lungs.”

Cynthia Paschal

“I am deeply honored to have been named to the AIMBE College of Fellows and give thanks for the great many colleagues with whom I have had the privilege to work. I came to Vanderbilt because of its collegial environment; this honor is a testament to the fruitfulness of this beautifully collaborative institution,” Paschal said.

Paschal is a pioneer in clinical magnetic resonance imaging. She was the first to determine how to make non-orthogonal images with a commercial Siemens MRI system, successfully demonstrating application in the lumbar spine. She was one of the first to apply MR to imaging coronary arteries, a task made challenging by cardiac and respiratory motion and equipment limitations.

Paschal also pursued investigations of pulmonary physiology with MRI. Her article K-Space in the Clinic was the most downloaded paper for the Journal of Magnetic Resonance Imaging in the year it was published.

In 2010, she was named associate dean in the Vanderbilt School of Engineering. In 2019, she was appointed senior associate dean for undergraduate education, which also includes oversight of senior design and study abroad activities. Paschal is an associate professor of biomedical engineering and of radiology and radiological sciences. One of her past leadership roles included directing the imaging domain project within the NSF-funded Vanderbilt-Northwestern-Texas-Harvard/MIT Engineering Research Center for Bioengineering Educational Technologies.

In 2008 she created a new biomedical engineering service-learning course, which has led to multiple such courses. In one, Paschal trains BME students to test and repair medical equipment in resource-limited facilities in Guatemala.

To increase sustainability of the effort, Paschal has students research and produce instructional videos about medical equipment testing and basic service in both English and Spanish, with assistance from the Center for Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt. The Spanish-language videos have up to 26K views on YouTube. Paschal also had a key role in the founding of Guatemala’s first biomedical engineering degree program. Paschal led a collaborative effort to build an engineering study abroad program that sent students abroad at a rate two to three times the national average for engineering.

In 2018, Paschal was appointed to a three-year term as the Vanderbilt University Marshal, the first woman at Vanderbilt to assume the role. The marshal plays a central role in the university’s Commencement ceremony.

Paschal is co-chair elect of the Undergraduate Experience Committee of the American Society for Engineering Education. This role and her ASEE engagement have amplified her broad perspectives on best practices in academic leadership including special attention to diversity, inclusion, equity and student mental health. As a young faculty member, she worked with Vanderbilt’s Women’s Faculty Organization to advance a parental leave policy for new parents, a policy she later ushered into reality as a faculty senator. Paschal served as chair of the Vanderbilt University Faculty Senate in 2009-2010.

She is one of 14 members of the Academic Advisory Council of ABET, a non-governmental organization that accredits post-secondary education programs in applied and natural science, computing, engineering and engineering technology at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s degree levels in the United States and abroad.

She is the recipient of several awards including Vanderbilt’s Ellen Gregg Ingalls Award for Excellence in Classroom Teaching, the School of Engineering’s Edward J. White Engineering Faculty Award for Excellence in Service in 2012, and the school’s Engineering Award for Excellence in Teaching in 2004. She was named the Tau Beta Pi Vanderbilt Engineering Teacher of the Year in 1993-1994.

Paschal joined the Vanderbilt School of Engineering in 1992 as an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and of radiology and radiological sciences. She served as director of undergraduate studies in biomedical engineering in 2004-2005 and 2007-2010. Paschal earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nuclear engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve University.

Contact: Brenda Ellis, 615 343-6314