Michael W. Deem

Michael W. Deem

Dr. Michael W Deem is an award winning and world-renowned scientist. He is currently a venture capitalist and CEO. He was formerly an Entrepreneur in Residence with Khosla Ventures.  From 2002 to 2020 he was a professor at Rice University. He received his Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering in 1991 from Caltech.  He received his PhD in chemical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1994.  He held a postdoctoral position at Harvard University in the field of Physics. He joined the faculty at UCLA in 1996 as an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering. In 2002, Dr. Deem joined Rice University as the John W Cox professor of Bioengineering and Physics & Astronomy.

Dr. Deem’s contributions to the scientific community have earned him immense respect among his peers. They have also been the basis for receiving such notable honors as the Fannie and John Hertz Fellow at UC Berkeley (1991-1994); NSF Postdoctoral Fellowship in Chemistry (1995-1996); Assistant and tenured Associate Professor, UCLA (1996-2002); NSF CAREER Award (1997-2001); Northrop Grumman Outstanding Junior Faculty Research Award (1997); Visiting Professor, University of Amsterdam (1999); A Top 100 Young Innovator, MIT’s Technology Review (November 1999) (Profile and Original Profile); Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow (2000); Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2002); John W. Cox Professor, Bioengineering and Physics & AstronomyRice University (2002-2020); Allan P. Colburn Award (2004); Editorial Board Member, Protein Engineering, Design and Selection (2005-present); Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (2005); Member, Board of Directors, Biomedical Engineering Society (2005-2008); Fellow, American Physical Society (2006); Member, Rice University Faculty Senate (2006-2009); Vaughan Lectureship, California Institute of Technology (2007); Member, Nominating Committee, Division of Biological Physics, American Physical Society (2007); Member, Board of Governors, Institute for Complex Adaptive Matter (2007-present); Fellow, Biomedical Engineering Society (2009); BMES Representative on the FASEB Publications & Communications Committee (2009-2012); Professional Progress Award (2010) (Profile); Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2010); External Scientific Advisor, Princeton Physical Sciences-Oncology Center (2010-present); Associate Editor, Physical Biology (2011-2018); Edith and Peter O’Donnell AwardThe Academy of Medicine, Engineering & Science of Texas (2012); Founding Director, Systems, Synthetic, and Physical Biology (2012-2014, raised $0.5M seed funding); Phi Beta Kappa, Visiting Scholar (2012-2013); Chair, Department of Bioengineering (2014-2017, raised $12M in external startup funding for new faculty); Editorial Advisory Board, Bioengineering and Translational Medicine, (2016-2019); Donald W. Breck Award for zeolite science (2019); and NACD Board Leadership Fellow and Directorship Certification (2020). He was an entrepreneur in Residence with Khosla Ventures (2021-2022) and is a General Partner with Smart Health Catalyzer (2023 to present).  His name has been synonymous with innovation and thought-provoking research for three decades.  He enjoys mentorship, vaccine design, and helping others invent the future.

The sport of rock climbing can be both an exhilarating pass time and a powerful way to promote strength, health, and exercise. While this hobby can attract its fill of thrill-seekers, it can also be the perfect sport for beginner climbers and the whole family when done with proper safety measures and proper climbing gear. Whether you find indoor climbing is right for you, or you enjoy getting close with nature throughout outdoor rock climbing, there is a type of climbing for everyone to learn. 

Get to Know the Hobby

The style of climbing that works best for each climber is different and the more information a beginner can get, that safer they will be on their first climbing routes. 

Is Rock Climbing Right for You?

This sport isn’t right for everyone. To promote safety while climbing, you will need both lower and upper body strength, a body free from injuries, and the correct pieces of gear for your climb. Beyond the physical, a climb can also take a toll on those who aren’t mentally prepared. Experienced climbers can attest, this sport requires a level head while under stress and nerves of steel for those climbs that take you high off the ground. 

What’s Normal After a Climb?

Protection during a climb can keep you safe from a fall, but it’s also important to know what level of discomfort is normal after a climb and what might be an injury. Especially as a beginner climber, it is normal for you to feel the aftereffects of a climb afterwards. You may experience soreness or discomfort in your large muscles from the new exertion, soreness in the hands as they adjust to the rough texture of rock, or even bruising from the climbing harness, as your body isn’t yet used to it. 

While these aches and pains are normal, some issues after a climb might mean you aren’t using proper climbing technique, or you may have hurt yourself. Be on the lookout of pain that goes beyond moderate discomfort or doesn’t improve over time, muscle weakness or giving out, or pain somewhere new. 

Find an Expert Climber

The best way to learn, is to learn from the best. Reach out to a local climbing group or gym to find a climbing instructor or experienced climbers you can watch and learn from. A climbing guide can teach you proper climbing technique, show you climbs for your ability level, and get you the right climbing gear. 

Climbing Gear

Whether outdoor climbing or an indoor climbing gym, there are certain pieces of equipment every climber will need. Each piece is imperative for the safety and productivity of your climb.

Michael W Deem

Michael W Deem

Climbing Shoes 

When you’re just starting out, your climbing gym will often let you rent some gear from them while you learn. Once you’ve gotten the climbing bug, you’ll want to invest in your own pair of shoes. The fit and personalization of your climbing shoes can make all the difference when you’re getting the feel of the wall or moving on to more difficult climbs.


Your clothing while climbing is up to you, but there are certain aspects of an item that make it better suited for the sport. Wear something you can easily move and bend in but covers your body well. This coverage will keep your skin, knees, and elbows from feeling every hump against the wall or rock when outdoor climbing. Tighter, stretchy clothes will work best, so you don’t have loose fabric getting in your way or tangling with your ropes.


While not always worn and usually reserved for outdoor rock climbing, a climbing helmet can be very important to the safety of beginners. There are helmets made specifically for rock climbers and each climber should get one that fits them comfortably. These helmets can protect from falling rock, branches, bumps, or even some falls. 

Climbing Ropes

With rope climbing, you and your climbing partner will need a set of climbing ropes. With the basic dynamic ropes, you’ll connect together the rest of your climbing gear. After being attached to the anchor of the top of your climbing route, your rope will fall to the base. Around your body, your climbing harness will connect you to the rope. Through a network of carabiners, small metal rings, your belayer, or climbing partner, will hold control of your rope for support with a connected belay device. 

Much of this equipment can help rented until you begin to advance with your fellow climbers. 

Types of Climbing 

Like any sport, there are many ways to enjoy rock climbing. From professional climbers to beginners, each climber will find the niche they love. 

Michael W Deem

Michael W Deem

Indoor Rock-Climbing Gyms

Indoor rock climbing is the most common type of climbing for beginners and those who recreationally climb. These indoor walls are covered with artificial hand and foot holds that create a variety of climbing routes. 

Indoor rock-climbing gyms typically have walls covered in different routes, so many in the climbing community can all come together. Some outdoor equipment stores also have small indoor routes for anyone to enjoy. 

Outdoor Rock Climbing

Outdoor climbing is similar to indoor, except these routes are on natural rock formations in outdoor locations. Outdoor climbing requires higher skill levels and more climbing experience since it is a less controlled environment than indoor. 

Top-Rope Climbing 

Top-rope climbing is a type of climbing where an anchor is placed at the top of a climbing route. The climber will move up the wall towards the anchor while a climbing partner at the bottom keeps the robe pulled tight. 

This method of climbing is used in both indoor and outdoor rock climbing. 


Bouldering is the only method of climbing where a robe and harness isn’t always needed. Bouldering routes are more horizontal route as opposed to vertical. Climbers to move along a wall or rock sideways, only about as high as they could comfortably jump down on their own. Climbers will still have a spotter for safety and a crash pad below for any falls. 

Bouldering is also done in indoor climbing gyms and outside on rock faces. 

Michael W. Deem

Michael W. Deem

Sport Climbing

Sport climbing is a method used by more advanced climbers, as there is less protection and requires more core strength than traditional climbing. In this method, there are bolts placed throughout a climbing route instead of at the top. Climbers will clip on a safety bolt as they progress. This comes with some extra risk, as the belayer at the bottom cannot keep the robe taunt the entire time. When a climber falls, they will fall at least as far as their last safety bolt. 

Traditional (Trad) Climbing

This type of climbing is for very advanced and professional climbers. In Trad Climbing routes, there are very few bolts placed throughout the route. Instead, climbers will place their own anchors in the rock as they climb. There are many ways to enjoy the sport of rock climbing, from the beginner stage to professional. Check out local gyms or climbing routes to get your climbing career started!

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