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Herff Headlines May-June 2013 Features

Dr. Gladius Lewis Named 2012-2013 Willard R. Sparks Eminent Faculty Award

Dr. LewisDr. Gladius Lewis, a professor of mechanical engineering and internationally known leader in the field of orthopedic biomaterials and implant design, received the Willard R. Sparks Eminent Faculty Award at the University of Memphis on May 6, 2013. The award, presented by the U of M’s Board of Visitors, recognizes exceptional and sustained contributions to scholarly and creative achievement, teaching, and service that have brought recognition to the University.

Born in Sierra Leone, West Africa, Dr. Gladius Lewis earned a BS degree in mechanical engineering from the University of London, England, and a PhD in materials science from the University of Nottingham, England.

Before joining the U of M in 1987, Lewis taught at Trent Polytechnic in England, the University of Zambia, the University of Zimbabwe and the University of Alabama at Huntsville. He was promoted to professor in 1993.

Lewis has an internationally recognized reputation in the field of orthopedic biomaterials and biomechanics. His many clinical contributions include bone cement, ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene, and finite element analysis of models of each of the joints of the body and the spine. Much of his work has been in the study of the mechanical properties of poly methyl methacrylate (PMMA) bone cement, particularly its fatigue and fracture toughness. This polymer is widely used to anchor many total joint replacements, especially hip and knee implants.

Lewis' work has been extensively cited. His results have contributed to many improvements, including self-healing PMMA bone cements that are more fracture-resistant than current commercially available brands, and development of cements specifically for two widely used surgical methods for treating compression fractures of the spine. These advances may translate to an increase in the life of hip and knee implants, and improved stabilization and better restoration of fractured vertebrae.

Thomas A. Slater, director of research and development Medtronic Spinal & Biologics, worked with Lewis on a study of injectable bone cements. “Working with him during the publication of the results motivated me to become more industrious, rigorous and precise in my own work,” Slater said. “He also instilled in me a desire to motivate my R&D team to do the same.”

While at the U of M, Lewis has written the textbook Selection of Engineering Materials as well as numerous peer-reviewed articles in such highly-regarded journals as the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, Biomaterials, Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery and Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. He is the author of 50 peer-reviewed presentations at national and international meetings held in the U.S., Japan, Australia, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria and Panama, and 30 book reviews.

“Gladius defines the very idea of an eminent scholar because of the quality, quantity and variety of his research and related publications,” said his colleague, Dr. A.U. Daniels of Universität Basel. “He has a phenomenal 206 publications in refereed journals – all but a handful as a sole author or first author.”

Lewis has taught 18 undergraduate- and graduate-level courses at the U of M. He won a grant from the American Society for Nondestructive Testing to develop two new courses in nondestructive testing and evaluation. Lewis also introduced five new courses to the curriculum in mechanical engineering.

Lewis has served as major professor for 45 master’s and four doctoral students, and has been an active member of numerous committees at the department, college and university levels. His extensive service to the profession includes being a member of the editorial board and an assistant editor of the Journal of Biomedical Materials Research Part B: Applied Biomaterials and a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Healthcare Research.

“As a professor and mentor, Dr. Lewis has touched and nurtured hundreds of future engineers – a lasting legacy,” said Troy D. Drewry, president and COO of MB Innovations. “I can personally attest I would not be where I am today both professionally and personally if it were not for the involvement in time and patience by Dr. Lewis.”

Among his awards at the U of M, Lewis has received the Best Research Paper Award from Sigma Xi, the Outstanding Faculty Research Award from the Herff College of Engineering, and the Alumni Association Award for Distinguished Research in Science, Engineering and Mathematics. In 2008 Lewis was elected a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

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