Peter Doerschuk


Before joining Cornell University in July 2006, Peter Doerschuk was on the faculty of Purdue University in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. He received BS, MS, and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from MIT and an M.D. degree from Harvard Medical School. After post-graduate training at Brigham and Womens’ Hospital he held a post-doctoral appointment at the Laboratory for Information and Decision Systems (MIT) before joining Purdue.

Contact information



Phillips Hall Room 305, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca NY 14853

While a street address is not used in my mailing address, it may be useful to know that Phillips Hall is 116 Hoy Road.


Doerschuk’s research interest is to develop, validate, and use mathematical models of primarily biological and medical systems, mostly with the goal of understanding experimental data.  New types of data and new goals for the understanding typically require new models and methods.  To take advantage of known physics about the system being studied and/or the sensor(s) used to make the measurements has been an important part of his work.  Many wonderful students have collaborated in this research and they are listed here. A wide range of spatial and temporal scales is represented in his research. At the smallest spatial scale, in collaboration with Professor J. E. Johnson (The Scripps Research Institute), he has developed algorithms and parallel software for problems associated with determining the 3-D shape of viruses from electron microscopy images and x-ray scattering data. Parallel software has played a critical role in solving these problems. At the largest spatial scale, in collaboration with Professor S. J. O’Connor (Indiana University School of Medicine), he has developed nonlinear differential equation models of the pharmacokinetics of ethanol. He has used these models to develop signal processing and pattern recognition algorithms and software for processing the outputs of a long-term implanted ethanol sensor system and to determine parameters describing the ethanol-related physiology of an individual from breath ethanol measurements.

Please see my CV here.


While there are many meanings for the word “teaching” at a university, this section concerns classroom teaching.  I have focused on undergraduate classroom teaching.  I usually describe this by saying that undergraduates are non-toxic to me and I’m non-toxic to undergraduates! In all of these classroom situations, engaging the students is key to getting student participation which in turn is key to achieving student learning.  I try to stimulate engagement by, for instance, including topics describing the practical utility of the course material.  As an example, in ECE2200 at Cornell University, I discuss various designs for mixers (at the level of block diagrams) culminating in mixers that are currently used in smart phones.  Any engaged student can watch me derive equations and solve problems in class and can even ask questions about the process.  However, that is primarily a spectator mode of participating and learning really requires an active mode. I believe that a key active mode is the working of problems, that is, the doing of homework. I try to help through office hours and evening problem sessions, but in the end I believe that the effort of working out problems for yourself is key to making the material your own. I like the analogy of watching an NFL football linebacker bench press 400 pounds versus actually bench pressing 400 pounds!

Service Activities

Most of Doerschuk’s service activities have been internal to the university.  At Purdue University he organized the graduate program of the Biomedical Engineering program and then department in the late 1990s and did a lot of work associated with the founding of the department in 1998 and the start of an undergraduate degree program soon thereafter.  At Cornell University he was responsible for organizing the Ph.D. program in Biomedical Engineering as the Director of Graduate Studies for the Biomedical Engineering Graduate Field for about 9 years and, partly at the same time, was responsible for the Master of Engineering program in Biomedical Engineering.   These programs have grown rapidly since the start of the School of Biomedical Engineering in 2004.