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Maria Oden, Ph.D.

Teaching Professor, Bioengineering
Director of the OEDK



Harvard Medical School, Postdoctoral Fellow, 1997

Tulane University, Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, 1994

Tulane University, M.S., Biomedical Engineering, 1991

Tulane University, B.S.E., Biomedical Engineering, 1989


Z. Maria Oden is a Teaching Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at Rice’s George R. Brown School of Engineering, Director of the Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen at Rice University and co-director of Rice 360°: Institute for Global Health.


As director of Rice’s Oshman Engineering Design Kitchen (OEDK), Oden collaborates with Rice faculty members to develop and execute engineering design programs for undergraduate students in all engineering disciplines at Rice.  Oden’s innovative approach to creating an invention ecosystem at Rice links excellence in teaching, technology development and leadership of the OEDK. The OEDK is a 20,000 sq. ft. engineering design studio that provides ready access to all the tools, supplies and resources students need to invent and bring engineering design projects to life. Through collaborations fostered by Oden, students are presented with real-world problems brought to Rice by partners from, industry, local community partners, the Texas Medical Center and university researchers.  Oden has also driven the pedagogical efforts in incorporating engineering design and innovation into the curriculum of the George R. Brown School of Engineering. For her efforts in educating students, Oden has twice, in 2012 and in 2016, been awarded the George R. Brown Prize for Superior Teaching from Rice University. She has also been awarded the 2012 Fred Merryfield Design Award by American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) for national excellence in teaching engineering design. 


Oden also leads the capstone design education efforts for the Rice 360° Institute for Global Health. A cornerstone of the global health technologies program is that students are presented with challenges from health care providers in low-resource settings.  Students are then guided through the design process and mentored by faculty at Rice, as well as clinical mentors from resource-limited settings and the Texas Medical Center. Students in the program have the opportunity to apply for 8-10 week international internships to work and gain feedback on their designs in hospitals and clinics. Several technologies from this program are now commercially available.


Oden and students in her classes (along with Richards-Kortum) were the inventors of a bCPAP system to help premature babies breathe, a syringe pump, an apnea detection and correction monitor, medication dosing clips, a blood pressure monitor for pregnant women, an incubator and dozens of other technologies. For her role in the invention of numerous global health technologies and taking life-saving health solutions to the developing world, Oden and colleague Richards-Kortum received the $100,000 Lemelson-MIT Award for Global Innovation in 2013.

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