By Patrick Kurp
Special to the Rice News
Rice University mechanical engineer Marcia O’Malley has been named a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) in recognition of her “outstanding contributions to rehabilitation robotics, haptics and robotic surgery.”
O’Malley is associate dean for research and innovation at Rice’s George R. Brown School of Engineering, the Thomas Michael Panos Family Professor in Mechanical Engineering and director of the Mechatronics and Haptic Interfaces Lab.
Election to AIMBE’s College of Fellows is among the highest professional distinctions in biomedical engineering, with members representing the top 2% of the medical and biological community. O’Malley is one of 152 fellows elected this year by peers and members of the college. New fellows will be formally inducted in a virtual ceremony March 25.
O’Malley earned master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering from Vanderbilt University and joined Rice’s Department of Mechanical Engineering in 2001. She holds joint appointments both in computer science and in electrical and computer engineering.
Her lab focuses on physical human-robot interaction for applications in rehabilitation, training and virtual reality. She and her students have developed robotic systems (hardware and control algorithms) for upper extremity rehabilitation after stroke and spinal cord injury, and devices for wearable haptic feedback, with applications in virtual reality, training and prosthetics.
O’Malley helped build educational and research collaborations between Rice faculty and researchers in the Texas Medical Center and greater Houston during her service as special adviser to the provost on Educational and Research Initiatives for Collaborative Health from 2017-2021.
She is a recipient of Rice’s Presidential Mentoring Award and worked to increase diversity in doctoral training while serving as mechanical engineering’s director of graduate studies from 2016-2020. By the end of her term, the department had the most underrepresented minority doctoral students among Rice engineering departments.
O’Malley is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME). She is editor-in-chief of the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation Conference Editorial Board, associate editor-in-chief of the IEEE Transactions on Haptics, chair of the ASME Robotics Public Policy Task Force and a member of the ASME Committee on Government Relations.
– Patrick Kurp is a science writer in Rice's George R. Brown School of Engineering.