A bioengineer who works with students to create medical devices for rural areas of Tanzania and other low-resource settings is the first recipient of a professorship named for the family of Clemson University alumni Ron Lindsay and his wife, Jane.

Delphine Dean (right) works with students in her Clemson University lab.

Delphine Dean (right) works with students in her Clemson University lab.

Delphine Dean said she is happy to be the first holder of the Ron and Jane Lindsay Family Innovation Professorship. It was heartening, she said, to see appreciation for innovation and efforts to help students learn innovation. 

“I want to thank the Lindsay family for this,” Dean said. “It was unexpected, and I think it really makes a difference, not just for me but for students. This professorship will enable them to go places and meet people and do really cool projects.”

Dean said she will use funds generated by the professorship’s endowment to help pay for students to travel to Tanzania and India for research and to go to conferences to present their findings. The funds will also help pay for supplies that students will use to create prototypes of medical devices.

Dean has established close ties to collaborators in Tanzania and has led several student trips to the East African nation. 

Students travel to rural villages, where they help repair medical equipment. They also learn what medical devices residents need and some of the unique challenges they face in delivering medical care.

Students then return to Clemson to develop the devices as part of research projects. Prototypes are created by undergraduates, and the devices with highest promise are further developed by graduate students.

Clemson teams have worked with basket weavers to create hand-woven neck braces. They have also developed an infant warmer, a breast pump with an HIV filter and a diagnostic device with a hand crank for electricity.

One project spun off into Accessible Diagnostics, a company that markets a low-cost way of using saliva to monitor blood glucose levels in diabetic pets.

Dean is also expanding her research and education efforts to India. She is leading Clemson’s efforts to coordinate with the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi on the Center for Innovative Medical Devices and Sensors.

A $1 million gift from the Lindsay family funded the professorship, several scholarships and other initiatives in the College of Engineering, Computing and Applied Sciences. 

Ron Lindsay said he was happy that his family could support the professorship.

“We are thrilled that Delphine was chosen,” he said. “We have been very impressed by her technically and interpersonally, and we are equally impressed by the passion she shows for her work and her students. Having her as the recipient makes us that much more pleased with our ability to support the college and University.”

Ron and Jane Lindsay graduated from Clemson with bachelor’s degrees in 1980. Ron’s degree was in chemical engineering, and Jane’s was in economic biology. 

After graduation, Ron took a job with Eastman in Kingsport, Tennessee and stayed with the chemical company for 36 years, retiring in 2016 as chief operating officer. He has stayed in touch with his alma mater and now helps guide the college as a member of its advisory board.

Martine LaBerge, chair of the Department of Bioengineering, thanked the Lindsays and said that Dean was a highly qualified choice as the professorship’s first recipient.

“The Lindsay family’s generosity is truly inspiring and deeply appreciated,” she said. “Their support will help Dr. Dean position students for success after graduation, nurture their sense of service to others and expand research into medical devices for low-resource settings.”

Dean said that of all her accomplishments, she is most proud of her students’ success.

“One of my former Ph.D. students is a professor, and some are working as leaders in industry,” she said. “Some of the undergraduates I’ve worked with have gotten M.D.s and Ph.D.s and done great things. I think that for a faculty member the ultimate accomplishment is  seeing the students you’ve worked with do well and surpass what I do. That’s the goal.”