Joseph Walsh's research area is the study of light-tissue interactions. For more than 25 years, he has investigated the photophysics and photobiology of laser-based ablation. He is currently investigating tissue birefringence feedback systems, the propagation of polarized light in tissue, optically induced stimulation of the auditory system, and nanostructured surfaces for biosensing applications. Walsh is a co-investigator in an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center that conducts research at the confluence of university engineering teaching and educational theory. He is the principle investigator on two NIH grants: one that has resulted in the development of a surface enhanced Raman spectroscopy glucose sensor; the other that has yielded a polarization based imaging system for identification of pathologic lesions without biopsy.
Walsh began his career in 1979 at M.I.T. as a research assistant, teaching assistant and graduate resident advisor. From 1984-1988 he worked as a research assistant in the Wellman Laboratories at Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital. In 1988 he became an assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University, then professor in 2000. From 1996-97 Walsh was visiting professor, Institute d`Optique Appliquée, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland.
In 2002, he served as Northwestern's Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Research and then in 2005, he became Senior Associate Dean of it's McCormick School. In 2007, he served as the Vice-President for Research. In 2019, Walsh began his new role as Senior Advisor to the President for Research and Science.
In Walsh’s new role as Advisor to the President for Research and Science , he provides counsel to the President, Provost, Senior Vice President for Business and Finance, and the Vice President for Research on major trends that may impact current or future research efforts.
He also serves on selected initiatives that represent Northwestern’s interests on local, state, national and international levels.
Walsh works closely with the special assistant to the president for government relations on legislative issues impacting Northwestern’s research enterprise. Working with the President, Provost, and Vice President for Research, he will lead research-based special projects and new strategic opportunities.
Walsh’s awards and honors include Vice-President and President, American Society for Lasers in Medicine and Surgery; William B. Mark Award, American Society for Lasers in Surgery and Medicine; Advisor of the Year Award, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Northwestern; The Keynote Speaker, 25th Anniversary Meeting of the American Society for Lasers in Medicine and Surgery; Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering; Teacher of the Year Award, McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Northwestern; National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award; and many others.
He has chaired numerous international conferences including the 2006 Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting; Joint International Meeting of the American Society for Lasers in Medicine and Surgery/British Medical Laser Society, and Europe Laser Association; and Annual Meeting of the American Society for Lasers in Medicine and Surgery.
Walsh’s research has been published in a wide variety of refereed journals. He has written review articles, book chapters, conference proceedings, abstracts, book reviews and given many talks. His discoveries have resulted in several patents.
He earned his B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. in Medical Engineering from Harvard Medical School-Massachusetts Institute of Technology Division of Health Sciences and Technology.