Wayne State preserves legacy of distinguished bioengineering researcher with Albert King Endowed Professorship
Albert King devoted nearly 60 years of his life to the study of injury biomechanics, becoming a renowned researcher in the auto industry and giving the world a greater understanding of vehicle safety. Thanks to the establishment of an endowed professorship that bears his name, King’s legacy will live in perpetuity at Wayne State University.
A committee established in 2018 — the year of King’s retirement — was tasked with raising $750,000 to initiate the professorship in honor of King, a distinguished professor of biomedical engineering who joined the faculty as an assistant professor in Wayne State's Bioengineering Research Center in 1966 after receiving his master’s and Ph.D. from WSU. The committee’s goal was reached earlier this year, further enabling the university to attract the top researchers and educators in this field.
“I was approached by Dean Farshad Fotouhi in September 2017 to spearhead a drive to make this endowment a reality. I took this challenge because I firmly believe that this would be a great legacy and honor for my brother, who has spent his whole life doing research and teaching at Wayne State University,” said James King, B.S. '65, M.S. '67, a 2020 College of Engineering Hall of Fame inductee. He also noted that this is just the second endowed professorship in the nearly 90-year history of the college.
Wayne State is home to one of the longest continuously active research programs in biomedical engineering in the world. A partnership between the College of Engineering and the School of Medicine dates back more than 70 years, and the evolution of biomedical engineering education at Wayne State led to the establishment of a full range of degree programs. King played key roles in this growth, impacting the lives of countless undergraduate and graduate students as a teacher and mentor. He served as the department’s first chair; worked alongside such pioneers of biomechanics as Lawrence Patrick and H.R. Lissner; established numerous laboratories and learning spaces; and earned global recognition for his research in automotive safety, mechanisms and injuries to the spine, and experimental models of head injuries.
“I greatly appreciate the work of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, the College of Engineering and Wayne State University for establishing an endowed professorship in my name,” said King. “I hope it can be used to hire distinguished faculty to continue the work of impact biomechanics and injury prevention at Wayne State.”
King was inducted into the WSU College of Engineering Hall of Fame in 1990, the same year in which he was named a distinguished professor. He became a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 2000.
In retirement, King remains active in his field. He wrote a textbook titled The Biomechanics of Impact Injury, and spent time exploring blast impact on soldiers returning from conflicts in the Middle East.
“An endowed professorship in Albert King’s name will showcase his work to future generations of students and faculty, symbolize Wayne State’s historic value to the field of biomechanics, attract outstanding new faculty to Wayne State, and provide recipients with one of the university’s highest honors,” said Fotouhi.
“I am particularly appreciative of the support provided by my brother, James, who spared no effort to ensure that the project was completed,” said King. “I also wish to thank all the generous donors, including many personal friends and relatives. It was an expression of their belief in the value of the work being done by the Bioengineering Center. My gratitude goes out to my departmental colleagues, my 29 doctoral students and the department’s many M.S. students, who contributed immensely to my work.”