"Jennifer Barton is the ideal person for this position, given her broad range of experience in leading biomedical engineering and serving as assistant director of the BIO5 Institute," said Leslie Tolbert, senior vice president for research. "I am thrilled that she will bring her experience and talents to the research office, where she can have a positive impact on even more UA researchers.”
Barton will focus on growing federal and state research funding and private sector support to expand facilities shared by the university's colleges, and give researchers across campus access to the most advanced equipment and expertise.
“One of the reasons I came to the University of Arizona was because it was so interdisciplinary. In this position, I'll have an opportunity to facilitate these activities even more,” said Barton. "I've been asked specifically to nurture the collaborations that are important to scientific and societal issues.”
One way to strengthen research support as well as propel economic development in Arizona is to create a more cohesive environment among community and business leaders and university researchers. As such, Barton will work with Tech Launch Arizona, the new UA technology commercialization center designed to provide inventors with a more direct route from innovation to marketplace.
Barton joined the UA in 1998 and is a biomedical engineering professor with additional appointments in electrical and computer engineering, optical sciences, agriculture and biosystems engineering, and the Arizona Cancer Center. In April 2010, Barton was appointed head of the UA biomedical engineering department, the first new academic department established by the UA College of Engineering in more than 30 years. She also is assistant director of the BIO5 Institute and served as chair of the graduate interdisciplinary program for biomedical engineering from 2007 to 2011. She'll step down from both the UA biomedical engineering and BIO5 positions to take on the new role.
In the biomedical research world, Barton is best known for the development of methods for the early detection of cancer. Her work has focused on advanced optical imaging tools, with resolutions that MRI or CT scans cannot match, that can peer inside the body and detect abnormal cells. She'll continue her important research as part of her new position.
Barton has authored more than 80 peer-reviewed publications, secured several grants from the National Institutes of Health, and is a fellow of SPIE -- the International Optics Society -- and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering.
She earned her master's degree in electrical engineering from the University of California at Irvine, then worked for McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) on the space station program before earning her PhD in biomedical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.
An interim head of UA biomedical engineering is expected to be announced before the end of August. A national search for a permanent department head is under way.