Deanna M. Thompson

Image of Deanna Thompson

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director of Biomedical Engineering


University of Michigan, BSE Chemical Engineering, 1993
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, MS Chemical Engineering, 1999
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, PhD Chemical Engineering, 2001
Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Shriners Hospital, Post-Doctoral Fellowship, 2001-04

Career Summary

I run a small business which is my research program where I have to raise and manage funds for my research program in neural engineering and disease and employ students to train them for careers in academia and industry. I also oversee the graduate program in BME to recruit and admit students, I participate as training faculty in two NIH training programs at RPI, and I am the director of a training program for New York State High School and Middle School Teachers to be Trained in Stem Cell Biology and Bioengineering. As faculty, we wear many hats and do many different jobs in a university.

In the past, I have been a research fellow at Harvard Medical School and have performed research in interdisciplinary biotechnology, cardiovascular pharmacology, and environmental medicine. I have also had experience in academia as a lecturer of mathematics, chemical engineering, and biomedical engineering.

Career Timeline

Harvard Medical School
Massachusetts General Hospital
Shriners Hospital
Rutgers University
National Institute of Health
Parke-Davis Research
University of Michigan

What excites you about your career?

I get excited to work and train new students both graduate and undergraduates in biomedical research. I love working with collaborators locally and beyond to ask and solve new questions. I love doing something new every day from teaching, to service at the Institute, service to the greater scientific community, and outreach programs. As a professor, I am engaged in both research and training of students.

Time Spent at U-M

Road tripping for Away Football Games, Hanging out with Friends, Open-ended Projects, Faculty, Regional AIChE meetings, Internship, SWE, softball games with the graduate students in the summer, Late night Euchre Tournaments and Undergraduate Research.

8:30 AM classes on North Campus, All-nighters, Broken Computers/Wait times at the Computer lab (yes — we had to wait in a queue to use a computer), forgetting a bluebook for an exam, just missing a bus to north campus.

Favorite Classes
All labs even ChE 460 (I learned tons), Mass and Heat Transport, Reaction Engineering and Design.

Favorite Events
Parking Cars for Alum at Football games, Football and Hockey games, AIChE and SWE, Acappela concerts, Art Fair in the Summer (for a day — after that the lack of parking was irritating), Top of the Park

Advice to Students
Don’t be afraid to Fail! If you don’t fail and play it safe, you will never grow. If you fail, ask for help — if you are willing to put in the work there are lots of classmates, TAs and Faculty willing to help you be successful.
Try new things and be a life-long learner. Attend a lecture at least once a term — take advantage of all that the university life offers from speakers that come to campus as well as time away from your studies to soak in college life at Michigan. Take a class that you think might be interesting – Go to a lecture. I attended a lecture on an artificial pancreas which motivated me to consider graduate school and research.

After School, try to make time for a trip/travel/see the world – as you get older you have more money but less time. During your time in Ann Arbor, explore the town as there are a lot of non-college things worth trying and doing.

What do I like doing outside of work?

Before kids, I mountain biked, skied, golfed, traveled and briefly sailed during my time in Boston, and picked up rowing in upstate NY. After kids, My husband and I like to spend weekends during the summer/fall in the Adirondacks on Upper Saranac Lake with family. The rest of the time is spent in hockey rinks, soccer/lacrosse fields and baseball fields rooting for our two sons. I am happy to report I can, work the time clock, keep score, run the penalty box, sharpen skates, work concession and chalk a baseball field. I am hopeful that someday I can drive the zamboni. In the winter, I maintain our outdoor backyard rink.