Cardiss Collins Professor Jian Cao (MIT’95, MIT’92, SJTU’89) specialized in innovative manufacturing processes and systems, particularly in the areas of deformation-based processes and laser additive manufacturing processes. Prof. Cao is an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAA&S), and a Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), ASME, the International Academy for Production Engineering (CIRP) and SME. Her major awards include the inaugural ASME DeVor-Kapoor Manufacturing Research Medal, DoD Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship, ASME Ted Belytschko Applied Mechanics Award, ASME Milton C. Shaw Manufacturing Research Medal, Charles Russ Richards Memorial Award from ASME and Pi Tau Sigma, SME Gold Medal, and SME Frederick W. Taylor Research Medal.
Prof. Cao is the founding Director of the research center on Manufacturing Science and Innovation at Northwestern, known as NIMSI, which hosts the National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center HAMMER. Cao is the lead for HAMMER’s convergent research. Prof. Cao now serves on the National Materials and Manufacturing Board of the National Academies, Board of Directors of SME, and Board of mHUB – accelerator for hardtech innovation and manufacturing in Chicago.
Prof. Cao served as a program director at the National Science Foundation from 2003 to 2005, during which she initiated the co-funding between NSF and DOE for her program, and she conducted the world technology study co-sponsored by four government agencies and more than 10 NSF programs. Prof. Cao served as an associate vice president for research (AVPR) at Northwestern from 2012 to 2021. During her term, she oversaw the unit that administers the university's core facilities and initiated the ReLODE program, a new funding model for key scientific instruments and software, and led several external collaborations. She continued her service to the University by chairing the Office for Research Advisory Council (ORAC) between 2021 and 2023. Now as an AVPR, Prof. Cao oversees two offices, core facilities (CF) and the university research centers and institutes (URIC).