Deirdre Meldrum

Sch Elect Comptr & Energy Engr
Center Director
Biosignatures Discovery Automation

Location: TEMPE

Contact Information
(480) 727-9397


  • Ph.D. Electrical Engineering from Stanford University 1993
  • M.S. Electrical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 1985
  • B.S. Civil Engineering, University of Washington 1983

Research Interests

Expertise: biosignatures, genome automation, microscale life sciences, single cell analyses and robotics.


Deirdre R. Meldrum received a bachelor?s of science degree in civil engineering from the University of Washington in Seattle in 1983, a master?s degree in electrical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, New York, in 1985, and Ph.D. in electrical engineering degree from Stanford University in California in 1993.

As an engineering co-op student at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington in 1979, she designed structures on Navy ships and submarines.  As an engineering co-op student at the NASA Johnson Space Center in 1980 and 1981, she was an instructor for the astronauts on the Shuttle Mission Simulator. From 1985-1987, she was a Member of the Technical Staff at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory where she worked on the Galileo spacecraft and performed theoretical and experimental work in identification and control of large flexible space structures and robotics.

Meldrum joined the faculty at the University of Washington in 1992, rising to full professor in electrical engineering in 2001. She also held adjunct appointments in the departments of bioengineering and mechanical engineering. She was awarded a National Institutes of Health Special Emphasis Research Career Award (SERCA) in 1993 to train in biology and genetics, bring her engineering expertise to the genome project, and develop automated laboratory instrumentation. She was founder and director of the Genomation Laboratory in the Department of Electrical Engineering with research interests in genome automation, microscale systems for biological applications, ecogenomics, robotics, and control systems. In 1996, she was awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers ?for recognition of innovative research utilizing a broad set of interdisciplinary approaches to advance DNA sequencing technology.?

In 2001, Meldrum was awarded a $18 million grant for a National Institutes of Health Center of Excellence in Genomics Science, which led to the establishment of the Microscale Life Sciences Center. The center brings together researchers in electrical engineering, chemical engineering, chemistry, computer science, materials science and engineering, laboratory medicine, microbiology and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to work on developing microscale devices to provide genetic information. The goal is to understand cell proliferation and cell death in the effort to better understand diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, and inflammation.  The MLSC grant was renewed for an additional $18 million, and five years, 2006-2011.

Meldrum is a team member of the Regional Scaled Nodes (RSN) Project led by the University of Washington. The project?s goal is to construct a cabled underwater observatory that will be built on the Juan de Fuca tectonic plate in the northeast Pacific Ocean for real-time observations and experiments with sensors. Meldrum?s team is developing sensing devices, sensorbots, and other instruments to gain knowledge of the biological, chemical and physical environments at microbial levels on the sea floor. In August 2006, she went to the sea floor at 2200 m below sea level in the Alvin submersible to perform experiments in the NE Pacific Ocean. The RSN project is the regional part of the National Science Foundation?s Ocean Observatories Initiative.

Meldrum?s move in 2007 to the position as dean of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering brings the Microscale Life Sciences Center and her research team?s part in the RSN project to Arizona State University. The team?s work is headquartered in the Center for Biosignatures Discovery Automation (D. Meldrum, Director) at the Biodesign Institute at ASU.  In the past year as Dean of Engineering, D. Meldrum has transformed the Schools of Engineering to focus on solving grand challenges of society and been engaged nationally in research and education forums with the National Academy of Engineering.  In January 2011, she became ASU Senior Scientist and is launching a major new initiative on Biosignatures.

Meldrum is a member of the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research, U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

She is a member of the Scientific Advisory Board for Climos, Inc., a member of the advisory board for external research and programs for Microsoft Research, and member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers, The American Chemical Society, the Association for Women in Science, the Human Genome Organization, the Society of Women Engineers and Sigma Xi. She was Senior Editor and now Chair of the Advisory Board for the IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering.