Richard A. Normann was appointed a Distinguished Professor of Bioengineering by the Distinguished Professors at the University of Utah. The appointment was approved by the Academic Senate Executive Committee in a meeting in February.

Professor Normann joins the ranks of nine other distinguished professors in the College of Engineering at the University of Utah. The University appoints distinguished professors “whose achievements exemplify the highest goals of scholarship as demonstrated by recognition accorded to them from peers with national and international stature, and whose record includes evidence of a high dedication to teaching as demonstrated by recognition accorded to them by students and colleagues.”

Professor Normann’s ongoing research involves applied and basic studies of the central nervous system. He is the inventor of the Utah Electrode Array, a pill-sized device containing 100 tiny electrodes implanted in the brain to be used to stimulate or record from the neurons of the central nervous system. Passing currents through arrays implanted in visual or auditory parts of the brain could produce a sense of sight in the blind or hearing in the deaf. If implanted in the motor parts of the brain, these arrays could be used to record neural signals for controlling external systems (such as a wheel chair). The arrays are also being used to study the parallel processing of sensory information by the retina and higher visual centers.

His research on the array spawned a spin-off company called Bionic Technologies, LLC, where he served as chair of the board. Professor Normann and his co-owner sold the company to Cyberkinetics Neurotechnology Systems, Inc. in 2002.

A professor in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Utah for 20 years, Professor Normann was chair of the Department of Bioengineering from 1992-97. He currently also has appointments in Ophthalmology and Physiology.

His previous industry experience includes a position at Lockheed Missile and Space Company.

Professor Normann received his BS in 1965, MS in 1967, and PhD in 1973 in Electrical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley.