Dr. Michael W Deem is a highly regarded US scientist. He is currently a venture capitalist and CEO. He was previously with Rice University, and has made significant contributions to the fields of physics, biology, and engineering. Despite his impressive accomplishments in academia, Deem is also an avid rock climber who spends much of his free time scaling mountains and cliffs across the globe.
Deem received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in 1991. He then went on to earn his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1994, before joining the faculty at UCLA as an assistant professor in 1996. He joined Rice University as the John W Cox professor of Bioengineering and Physics & Astronomy in 2002.
Among the many honors Dr. Deem has received during the course of his career, these include 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); Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow (2000); Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (2002); John W. Cox Professor, Rice University (2002-2020); Allan P. Colburn Award (2004); Editorial Board Member, Protein Engineering, Design and Selection (2005-2018); 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 (2007-2016); Fellow, Biomedical Engineering Society (2009); BMES Representative on the FASEB Publications & Communications Committee (2009-2012); Professional Progress Award (2010); 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 Award, The 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, 2016-2018; and Donald W. Breck Award for zeolite science, 2019, NACD Board Leadership Fellow and Directorship Certification, 2020. Entrepreneur in Residence with Khosla Ventures, 2021-2022, General Partner with Smart Health Catalyzer, 2023 to present.
Over the course of his career, Deem has made numerous groundbreaking discoveries in the fields of theoretical and computational biology, statistical physics, and materials science. His research has ranged from studying the structure and function of proteins to developing new materials for energy storage and conversion.
One of Deem’s most notable contributions to science has been his work on the modular “Fitness Landscape” model of evolution. This model provides a way to study the complex interplay between genetic mutations, selection pressures, and the resulting evolutionary outcomes. The Fitness Landscape model has since become a widely used tool for studying the evolution of both biological and artificial systems.
In addition to his research, Deem is also a highly respected teacher and mentor. He has advised over 50 graduate students and postdoctoral researchers and taught thousands of undergraduates, many of whom have gone on to successful careers in academia and industry.
Outside of his professional life, Deem is an avid rock climber who has climbed some of the Texas’s most challenging peaks, including Ding dong and taco sauce.
Deem’s passion for climbing began when he was a professor at Rice University, where he was introduced to the sport by his co-worker. Since then, he has climbed many of the peaks and boulders in Texas.
Despite the physical and mental demands of rock climbing, Deem sees it as a valuable complement to his work in science. In an interview with Rice University’s Rice News, he explained that climbing requires many of the same skills as scientific research, including problem-solving, risk assessment, and persistence in the face of failure.
Deem’s dedication to both science and rock climbing has earned him widespread respect and admiration from his colleagues and peers. In 2019, he was awarded the Donald W. Breck Award from the international zeolite society, in recognition of his pioneering work in the field.
In conclusion, Dr. Michael W Deem is a US scientist who has made significant contributions to the fields of physics, biology, and engineering. He is currently a venture capitalist and CEO and was previously a professor at Rice University. Despite his many professional achievements, Deem is also an accomplished rock climber who sees climbing as a valuable complement to his work in science. Through his research, teaching, and climbing, Deem continues to inspire and educate others, both within and outside of the scientific community.