Cate Brinson

An internationally recognized expert in soft matter, Brinson is the Donald M. Alstadt Chair of Duke's Thomas Lord Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (MEMS)

Cate BrinsonShe joined Duke in 2017 as the Sharon C. and Harold L. Yoh, III Professor in MEMS, and became department chair on June 1, 2019. Brinson brought extensive experience in academic leadership to the chair, including serving as associate dean for academic and professional initiatives in engineering and as department chair of mechanical engineering at Northwestern University.

Brinson’s research combines computational models, data science and physical experiments to lay the groundwork for developing new materials for applications ranging from cell phones to biomedical devices.

She has won numerous awards, including the Society of Engineering Science 2022 A.C. Eringen Medal, ASME Nadai Medal and the Humboldt Foundation Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Prize, and is currently the PI of the NanoMetaMine project, a $5-million NSF-funded national consortium focused on building a data-driven framework for the discovery of new polymer nanocomposites and structural metamaterials. She is also the PI of the $3-million NSF-funded aiM-NRT "AI for Understanding and Designing Materials (aiM)/National Research Traineeship Program (NRT)." This new graduate training program will provide PhD students with integrated training for both materials and computer scientists to advance the frontiers of research and training in this new convergent field. 

Prior to joining Duke, Brinson served as associate dean for academic and professional initiatives at Northwestern University’s McCormick School of Engineering, where she coordinated the development and promotion of a diverse array of research centers and consolidated leadership of eight professional master’s programs.

She previously served for six years as chair of Northwestern’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, where she led the department through growth in faculty and research expenditures, started a now-flourishing departmental master’s program, promoted design curriculum across the school, and led development for the first endowed lecture in the ME department.