Lola Eniola-Adefeso named Vennema Professor of Chemical Engineering

The endowed Vennema professorship was established in 1980 to support scholars whose work will impact the technologies of tomorrow.

Updated on December 5, 2023. Originally published on August 3, 2023.

Lola Eniola-Adefeso, University of Michigan Diversity and Social Transformation Professor of Chemical Engineering, has been named as the Vennema Professor of Chemical Engineering for her outstanding leadership and pioneering research in the field of vascular-targeted drug delivery. She is the first Black female in Michigan Engineering’s history to receive an endowed professorship.

“It is always great to pause, acknowledge, and celebrate a glass ceiling being cracked. Being the ‘first,’ however, is richer only when one is not the last. There is more work to do still, as Black women in academia continue to be disproportionately underrepresented at all levels much more than their majority counterparts,” Eniola-Adefeso said. “We have cracked the glass ceiling in Michigan Engineering with the first endowed professorship to a Black woman – the next step is to shatter it – that requires having more Black, Brown and other women in the pipeline.”

Steve Ceccio, Interim Dean of the College of Engineering, invites Eniola-Adefeso to sit in the chair awarded to her at the Endowed Professorship Recognition ceremony.

About Lola Eniola-Adefeso

Eniola-Adefeso’s current research aims to apply knowledge of cellular inflammatory response and blood flow dynamics to design bio-functionalized particles for targeted drug delivery and imaging.

Throughout the years, her substantial contributions have played a crucial role in the advancement of targeted drug delivery. Recent findings from her laboratory have resulted in three U.S. patent applications, one of which sparked the creation of a startup company called Asalyxa Bio, where Eniola-Adefeso holds the chief scientific officer position.

Her research has been recognized by many organizations and is currently funded by the National Institutes of Health, the American Heart Association, the Leducq Foundation and the National Science Foundation.

In addition to her new named professorship, Eniola-Adefeso was recently appointed as the President-Elect of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering and received the esteemed title of National Academy of Inventors Senior Member. She has also been honored as a fellow of the American Heart Association by the Council on Peripheral Vascular Disease. This fellowship recognizes her outstanding contributions in the fields of scholarship, practice, education and volunteer service within the American Heart Association, highlighting her excellence and innovation.

Eniola-Adefeso has been the recipient of many other notable awards including the American Institute of Chemical Engineers Minority Affairs Committee’s Grimes Award for Excellence in Chemical Engineering and a mid-career award from the Biomedical Engineering Society.

Her academic background includes a BS in chemical engineering from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. Since joining the University of Michigan in 2006, Eniola-Adefeso has been widely recognized for her dedication to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, as well as her significant contributions in equitable education, mentoring, and impactful service and engagement.

About the Vennema Professorship

The prestigious Vennema professorship was established in 1980 by a gift from Catherine and Ame Vennema, BSE ’32, to support scholars whose work will impact the technologies of tomorrow.

Ame and Catherine Vennema were born and raised in Menominee, Michigan. Ame Vennema completed his undergraduate work at the University of Michigan College of Engineering, concentrating on geodesy and surveying.

After graduation in 1932, he served for five years with the U.S. Ordnance Corps, then joined Schlumberger Well Surveying Corporation as a field engineer. Following active military service during World War II, he returned to the firm as Director of Personnel; in 1952 he became Vice President. Schlumberger, Ltd., the parent company, named him Vice President for Administration in 1958.

During his subsequent years with Schlumberger, an international geological exploration and electronics firm and one of the world’s leading petroleum companies, Vennema held successively more responsible positions, including a seat on the Board of Directors. He retired in 1975, after 10 years as Chairman of the Executive Committee.

“I am grateful to the Vennema family for supporting our scholarship to create impactful technology for cardiovascular and immune disorders and CoE leadership for the selection of this honor,” Eniola-Adefeso said. “I look forward to the many ways this endowment will help accelerate translation of our work to human use.”

“I look forward to the many ways this endowment will help accelerate translation of our work to human use.”

Lola Eniola-Adefeso
University Diversity and social transformation professor of chemical engineering

The Vennema professorship was most recently held by Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Professor Ian Hiskens and was long held by revered Chemical Engineering Professor Scott Fogler

“Scott had great admiration and respect for Lola and her many achievements, and I know he would be delighted at this wonderful recognition of the amazing scientist, educator, mentor and leader that she is,” said Chemical Engineering Department Chair Sharon Glotzer

Eniola-Adefeso was formally installed as the Vennema Professor of Chemical Engineering during a ceremony hosted by the Dean of the College of Engineering on Thursday, November 30, 2023.