At A Glance

Biomedical innovation requires the need for high- and low-tech options to meet medical needs around the globe. Dean’s reach focuses on providing solutions to meet these needs through varied medical devices that aid health care providers and communities in rural settings. Her work has led to the development of a cervical collar made from African grasses to a new, less invasive detector and marker for breast cancer surgery patients.


Focused on providing solutions through bioengineering methods, Dean works to impact health care through basic and applied science methods. At a fundamental level, she seeks to understand nanoparticle interactions with cells along with cell mechanics and properties. These small-scale interactions and modeling help drive understanding of cell mechanics and develop therapies for a variety of medical needs.

Translating her bioengineering research into solutions for health care needs, Dean is dedicated to using innovation, both high-tech and low-tech, to solve problems, often through new materials and procedures. One such example is a metal detector that can be used to detect titanium, which is common in clips used prior to breast cancer surgeries. Typically patients have titanium clips left in the spot of a biopsy that have to be surgically located prior to tumor removal. This innovation mitigates the need for the additional surgery. The patented technology is just one of several ways Dean works with her students to develop health care innovations.

Through partnerships in Tanzania and India, Dean and her students have traveled to rural villages to assist in repairing medical equipment and learn about the unique challenges in delivering medical care in remote settings. These interactions, both in person and remotely via technology, drive global learning and innovation in Dean’s lab and in the field of bioengineering. Through this hands-on research, Dean’s students have developed a variety of low-resource medical devices to aid care in rural settings. From low-cost sensors that detect early stages of kidney disease to a cervical collar made from African grasses, the work Dean has inspired in her students, and helped engineer, has led to several patents and other open-sourced solutions in health care.

Through all of Dean’s research and work with her students, it is evident that her desire is to work on projects to address health care issues; this translational aspect of her work is rewarding. Through the COVID-19 pandemic, Dean has established Clemson’s first high-complexity CLIA-certified clinical diagnostics lab on campus, which can run up to 9,000 PCR saliva-based patient tests per day. She has been able to shift some of the ongoing research to look at how technologies she and her students are developing could contribute to supporting current needs. One such example is a low-resource urinalysis device sensor that was initially intended to detect kidney disease and has since been modified to detect SARS-COV-2 in wastewater.

Expand +


Connecting engineering students globally through our partnerships in Tanzania and India is a great way to engage students by allowing them to learn about and from other cultures. These partnerships provide insight for students, so they understand the global nature of bioengineering. The solutions they develop in our lab at Clemson aren’t constrained only to applications here but could serve more than one purpose.

Want to Talk?

Let us know and we'll connect you with an expert.

Or email us at

    This form is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


    • Medical device development for low-resource settings
    • Nano- and Micromechanics — cell mechanics, interactions and properties
    • Nanoparticle-cell interactions
    • Multiscale modeling of cells and tissues

    Degrees, Institutions

    • Ph.D. electrical engineering and computer science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • M.E. electrical engineering and computer science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    • S.B. electrical engineering and computer science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology