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Dean Karin Ruhlandt Biography

portrait of Dean Ruhlandt

Dean Karin Ruhlandt earned a Dr. rer. nat. (Ph.D. equivalent) in chemistry from Philips University Marburg in her native Germany, after studying at the University of California, Davis. In 1991, following postdoctoral work at UC Davis, she was appointed assistant professor of chemistry at Syracuse University, where she has been ever since. In 2009, Ruhlandt was appointed Distinguished Professor--the only female on campus to receive such an honor in the sciences--and chair of the Department of Chemistry, the latter of which she held until July 1, 2014.


A renowned chemist, Ruhlandt received the Chancellor’s Citation for Excellence in 2012 and a Fulbright Fellowship in 2013, enabling her to spend a year at the Technical University of Graz (Austria). Ruhlandt has also held visiting appointments at the University of Auckland (New Zealand) and Monash University (Australia). 


Ruhlandt is an inorganic chemist and crystallographer, with more than 150 papers, book chapters, and reviews to her credit. Her research specialty is the chemistry of highly reactive metals and their applications in areas such as computer memory and bone therapeutics.


At Syracuse University, she has trained more than 20 Ph.D. students and dozens of master’s students, has worked one-on-one with nearly a hundred undergraduate students, and has overseen more than 10 Honors capstone theses. Her former students are employed all over the world, as leaders of industry and academia. As a principal or co-principal investigator (PI), she has brought more than $10 million in sponsored research to Syracuse University.


Ruhlandt is particularly committed to excellence in undergraduate teaching and research. For the past 15 years, she has served as director and PI of the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program, sponsored by the National Sciences Foundation (NSF). This year, more than 25 undergraduates are involved with the Chemistry REU, one of two such programs on campus. Ruhlandt also oversees an undergraduate exchange program in chemistry between Syracuse University and the Graz University of Technology. She is currently developing similar programs for undergraduates in technology, engineering, and mathematics.


Ruhlandt is co-author, co-principal investigator, and an executive board member of Syracuse University ADVANCE, a $4 million NSF program that seeks to increase the number of females in the STEM disciplines.  She also is co-PI of Syracuse University’s first Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program, an interdisciplinary NSF-funded graduate training program in the sciences and engineering.