Maude Cuchiara is the managing director of STEPS and a Research Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at NC State. In her role as STEPS Managing Director, Cuchiara implements the STEPS Center mission and strategic plan and provides leadership by promoting the STEPS values of diversity, convergence, sustainability, engagement, and education in realization of the STEPS 25-in-25 vision. She facilitates boundary spanning processes of many kinds, including identifying knowledge gaps, managing complex inter and intra-team communications, integrating knowledge from disparate sources and stakeholders, establishing common ground, and helping guide leadership decisions by creating and sustaining a robust understanding of both the “big picture” and its moving parts.
She also currently serves as an Advisor to the Research Triangle Nanotechnology Network (RTNN), a site in the NSF-funded National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI). In her previous role, Associate Director of the RTNN, she facilitated client and user interactions with RTNN as well as communicated RTNN news, information, and events to relevant stakeholders. She continues to engage with RTNN by participating in the planning and implementation of workshops, conferences, and outreach activities. Through coordination of expertise at the three RTNN institutions – NC State, UNC, and Duke – she successfully secured both collaborative REU and RET site awards that leveraged RTNN faculty strengths and technical resources. Maude actively collaborated with peer NNCI sites through participation and leadership in several working groups including Education and Outreach, Workforce Development, Evaluation, and Online Technical Content (chair). She also participates in NIFA/USDA supported research aimed at understanding stakeholder perceptions on the use of nanotechnology and other emerging technologies in food and agriculture.
Maude earned undergraduate degrees in Biomedical Engineering and Spanish Language and Literature from NC State. At NC State, Maude was a Benjamin Franklin Scholar, a dual-degree program that aims to train engineers who can approach technical problems while also considering ethical and social perspectives. Maude then pursued her graduate degree in Bioengineering at Rice University. Her dissertation work focused on the development of novel biomaterials for the expansion of hematopoietic (blood) stem cells. During graduate school, she interned at the National Science Foundation in the Biomedical Engineering program housed in CBET (Engineering Directorate), where she helped NSF-funded researchers communicate their work to the public and researched best practices to support multidisciplinary projects. As a graduate scholar in the Science and Technology Policy Program at the Baker Institute for Public Policy (housed at Rice), she studied stem cell policy and regulation publishing several articles and policy briefs. After graduating, Maude served as a research scientist in the West Lab for Biofunctional Materials at Rice University and later Duke University while continuing her work with the Baker Institute as a non-resident scholar.
Through these experiences, Maude has gained great appreciation for the diverse talents and approaches required to tackle the world’s wicked problems. She brings a unique skillset to STEPS and will use her expertise to support STEPS goals and realize the 25-in-25 vision.Maude Cuchiara