Archives:Working to Establish a New Discipline: Herman P. Schwan and the Roots of Biomedical Engineering

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Portrait of Herman P. Schwan, winner of the IEEE Edison Medal, member of the National Academy of Engineering, and recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. Schwan contributed to the growth of biomedical engineering in several ways. He pioneered new research areas: dielectric properties of biological materials — from molecules to whole organisms-at high and low frequencies, the propagation of electromagnetic energy in biological materials, and the ultrasonic properties of biological materials. He achieved both accurate measurement of properties and explanation of many of the observed values. Furthermore, he applied the resulting biophysical understanding to practical problems: understanding electrode effects, developing new diagnostic and therapeutic instruments, and helping to set microwave safety standards. And he helped build the institutional basis-both at the University of Pennsylvania and in several thriving professional organizations — for the new discipline.

Citation and Link to Full Profile

Frederik Nebeker, "Working to Establish a New Discipline: Herman P. Schwan and the Roots of Biomedical
Engineering," in Sparks of Genius: Portraits of Electrical Engineering Excellence (Piscataway, NJ: IEEE Press, 1994), 27-60.


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