Heather Canavan, PhD

Heather Canavan, PhD

Co-Founder and Director

Heather Canavan is an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical & Biological Engineering at the University of New Mexico. Her research focuses on cell/surface interactions, bioactive polymers and biocompatibility, and the design of adaptive tools and devices for enhanced mobility. She is also extremely active in engineering and scientific education, especially classes that explore the “soft skills” for engineers (e.g., ethics, presentation skills, and the role of the engineer in a global economy).

The idea for Adaptive Biomedical Designs arose from Canavan’s practice of giving extra credit to students for applying their subject-specific knowledge to the real world, and her own experience as a breast cancer survivor.

“I was so frustrated with seemingly small things. For example, I couldn’t wash the bottom of my feet, because my balance was terrible, and I was afraid I’d fall over in the shower. And I felt so gross because I couldn’t wash my hair, because I couldn’t lean back far enough to wet my hair but still keep my stitches dry. I started to think, someone needs to come up with a better way of dealing with the kind of issues that patients experience both during and after their treatments.

While many patients and survivors have ideas for things that they want to see produced, very few have the access to the technology they need, the time and resources to prototype and design, or the personnel necessary to move forward with their ideas. ABD gives them all of these by connecting them to people, technology and resources eager to improve their worlds.”

Education & Credentials

BA, Biology, University of California at Santa Barbara
MPhil & PhD, Physical Chemistry, George Washington University
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of Washington