BARBARA D. BOYAN
Executive director of the Institute for Engineering and Medicine, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond
“I decided at age 10 that I was going to cure arthritis because my mother had it,” says Barbara Boyan, and, in the decades since then, Boyan has never really wavered in her search for treatments.
Although Boyan holds a doctorate in biology, she early on saw the value of mastering engineering concepts so that she could devise products that could make a difference in people’s lives. “Business makes ideas real,” she says. Her research led her to co-found multiple companies, and she is the holder of more than 24 patents.
About a decade ago, after a stint at Georgia Tech, Boyan became dean of Virginia Commonwealth University’s College of Engineering. “No sane person would turn down the offer from VCU to build a school,” she observes. Although her executive duties did not allow time to teach classes, she still mentored more than 30 VCU doctoral and 50 master’s degree students. “Seeing their success was the favorite part of my job,” she says.
Boyan has never had time for hobbies, but she and her husband have helped raise several children and grandchildren, and a cohort of chihuahuas occupy their Richmond home.
Even at age 73, she isn’t done with scientific inquiry, and, on July 1, she became executive director of VCU’s Institute for Engineering and Medicine. Boyan has only one regret about her outstanding career — not finding a cure for arthritis. But she hasn’t given up.