Virginia Tech Professor Named ELATES Fellow in National Leadership Program

Philadelphia, PA: Abby R. Whittington, Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering at Virginia Tech, has been selected for the Class of 2023-2024 of Drexel University’s Executive Leadership in Academic Technology, Engineering and Science (ELATES) program. The ELATES program is a national leadership development program designed to promote women in academic STEM fields, and faculty allies of all genders, into institutional leadership roles.

The Class of 2023-2024 ELATES Fellows is a prestigious cohort of 30 faculty members from over 25 institutions of higher education across the U.S. and Canada. The ELATES Fellows include experts in engineering, mathematics, and science, all of whom have significant administrative experience on top of their scholarly accomplishments. Whittington was nominated by senior leadership for this intensive, yearlong program, which includes eight to 10 hours per week of personal and leadership development work as well as three series of on-site work in the Philadelphia area.

Whittington is highly interdisciplinary and an expert in 4D degradable materials for biomedical, agricultural, and pharmaceutical applications. She is a founding member of the Regenerative Medicine Interdisciplinary Graduate Education Program (IGEP), former Director of the Macromolecular Science and Engineering IGEP (2019 – 2022), and on the steering committee for the Virginia Tech Center for Drug Discovery.

“I am excited to grow as a leader and hope to use this experience to better the graduate programming here at Virginia Tech. I cannot thank Dean Ross enough for nominating me for this opportunity and for the support my department heads, Steven Wrenn of Chemical Engineering and Suneel Kodambaka of Materials Science and Engineering, have given me to facilitate my professional development.”

Facilitated by leaders in the fields of STEM research and leadership development, the ELATES curriculum is focused on increasing Fellows’ personal and professional leadership effectiveness, from the ability to lead and manage change initiatives within institutions, to the use of strategic finance and resource management to enhance organizational missions. Pairing online instruction and discussion with intensive, in-person seminar sessions, the program encourages Fellows to apply what they’ve learned at their home institutions. Ultimately, it aims to create a network of exceptional faculty who bring broad organizational perspectives and deep personal capacity to the institutions and society they serve.

Sharon Walker, PhD, executive director of the ELATES program and dean of Drexel University’s College of Engineering, shares her excitement for welcoming the newest class of Fellows.

“I am thrilled to welcome this talented new cohort of ELATES fellows as they join the community of distinguished alumnae who are committed to lifelong learning and leadership development. I am excited to see what impact they will not only have this year on their home campuses, but more broadly to the higher education STEM community in the future.”

To learn more about ELATES at Drexel, visit ELATES online at