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Dr. Kristina (Kris) Ropella is the Opus Dean of the Opus College of Engineering and professor of biomedical engineering at Marquette University. She joined the biomedical engineering faculty at Marquette in 1990 and served as the chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering from 2004–2013, when she was named the executive associate dean. Ropella assumed the permanent role of Opus Dean in 2015. In these leadership roles, Ropella provides vision and leads strategic planning and implementation, creation of academic programs, engagement with industry, government and other academic institutions, fundraising and community outreach.
Ropella's research expertise is in biosignal processing and medical imaging for diagnostic medical devices. Her early research focused on detection of abnormal heart rhythms for implantable defibrillators and ECG monitors. Currently, she is collaborating with neuroscientists and physicians at the Medical College of Wisconsin to develop clinical applications of functional magnetic resonance imaging. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, Department of Education, the Dr. Ralph and Marion Falk Medical Research Trust, and the Whitaker Foundation.
Ropella also created and led a number of innovative educational programs, including the Joint Functional Imaging doctoral program with the Medical College of Wisconsin, a new biocomputer engineering major at Marquette, a GAANN Graduate Fellowship Program in Functional Imaging, and an NSF-sponsored summer undergraduate research program. She is also the founder and faculty director of Engineers in the Lead, a three-year curricular leadership development program that offers undergraduate students the opportunity to build on their technical skills and develop their capacity to lead people and teams.
Ropella was named the Wisconsin U.S. Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (2007). She has twice received the college’s Outstanding Teacher Award (1994 and 2002) and received the university's Robert and Mary Gettel Faculty Award for Teaching Excellence (2002). Among other honors, she was the recipient of the Milwaukee Business Journal’s “40 Under 40” (2000) and Women of Influence (2008) awards; STEM Forward's Engineer of the Year award (2016); and the Kern Family Foundation's Outstanding Dean award (2016).
Ropella is a fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, having recently served on its board of directors. She has also served on the board of directors for the Biomedical Engineering Society, the Council of Chairs in Biomedical Engineering, and the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Ropella served on external review panels for the Institute of International Education, the AAAS, the National Institutes of Health, the Coulter Foundation, and the U.S. Professors Program. She is a member of the board of trustees for the Medical College of Wisconsin and a member of the board of directors at Milwaukee's Augustine Prep and Summit Educational Association.
She received her bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering from Marquette University and earned her master's and doctoral degrees from Northwestern University.