Ilene Busch-Vishniac

Hertz Fellow: Ilene Busch-Vishniac

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Area of Study

Mechanical Engineering

Fellowship Years

1976 - 1980

Ilene Busch-Vishniac is the ninth president and vice-chancellor of the University of Saskatchewa.

Ilene began her post-secondary education career studying piano at the Eastman of Music while taking classes at the University of Rochester. A freshman class in the physics of music piqued her interest and she switched into physics and mathematics for her undergraduate degrees. From Rochester, Ilene moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, and with her Hertz Foundation Fellowship, she earned her PhD in mechanical engineering from MIT. Following completion of her PhD, she worked first as a postdoctoral fellow and then as a member, technical staff in the Acoustics Research Department of Bell Laboratories.

In 1982, she found herself at the University of Texas at Austin (UT) as an assistant professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department. Over the next 16 years at UT, Ilene rose through the ranks becoming an endowed chair and eventually serving as the associate chair of the department. In 1998, Ilene accepted a position as the dean of the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. In 2007, Ilene became provost of McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. As provost, she was instrumental in: technology systems renewal, the development of a new budget model, improving the student experience, faculty renewal, strategic enrolment planning, advancing the scholarship of teaching and learning on campus, and modeling a highly successful and collaborative college-university partnership. She also worked to enhance diversity initiatives at McMaster, particularly focusing on ties to First Nation communities nearby.

Ilene’s research career primarily focuses on aspects of acoustics and on diversity issues as they relate to engineering education. She is perhaps best known for her work to control noise in hospitals and for her efforts to revise engineering curricula to suit a more diverse population. She has authored more than sixty technical articles, a monograph and a number of popular papers. Additionally, she holds nine U.S. patents on electromechanical sensors. She has supervised eighteen PhD students, thirty-four MSc students, and a host of undergraduate students engaged in research projects. Ilene has received many teaching and research awards, including the Curtis McGraw Research Award of the American Society for Engineering Education, the Silver Medal in Engineering Acoustics of the Acoustical Society of America, and the Achievement Award of the Society of Women Engineers. She also has served in a variety of leadership roles, including president of the Acoustical Society of America and chair of the Ontario Council of Academic Vice-Presidents.