2012-2013 BioE Undergraduate Awards

department award winners

Fischell Department of Bioengineering (BioE) undergraduates were among the award recipients at the 2012-2013 A. James Clark School of Engineering's Honors and Awards Ceremony, held April 9. The event honors students from all departments who have demonstrated outstanding academic performance, research, and contributions to their departments or fields. Clark School dean Darryll Pines and BioE professor and chair William E. Bentley presented the awards.

This year, the awards and their recipients were:

Department Awards

The Fischell Department of Bioengineering’s Outstanding Junior Award
Presented by the Chair on the basis of outstanding academic achievement and contributions to the department.

Awarded to Katherine Chen and Jeffrey Rappaport.

ChenKatherine Chen is a recipient of the Banneker/Key Scholarship and the University System of Maryland Regents Scholarship. She has been recognized on the Dean’s List in every semester since her enrollment, and as an Honors College student, she actively engages in volunteer tutoring through the Honors tutoring program. Chen has worked as an undergraduate research assistant in Associate Professor Benjamin Shapiro’s Control of Miniaturized Systems Lab, studying the quantification of nanoparticles for drug delivery purposes. She also conducts research in the Biochemistry and Biophysics Center at the National Institutes of Health, developing computational models of cellular processes.

RappaportJeff Rappaport is a Banneker/Key Scholar in the Honors program. He conducts research in Associate Professor Silvia Muro’s Drug Delivery Lab with the support of a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Undergraduate Fellowship. He has worked extensively with Engineers Without Borders on solar electrification and water sanitation projects in Burkina Faso. He was also a lead engineer on WaterShed, UMD’s first-place winning entry in the Solar Decathlon in 2011.

The Fischell Department of Bioengineering's Outstanding Senior Award
Presented by the faculty on the basis of academic achievement and contributions to the profession and the department.

Awarded to Christine O'Keefe.

O'KeefeChristine O’Keefe, a Banneker/Key Scholar and a member of Theta Tau and the Primannum Honor Society, has just returned from an undergraduate design competition at Rice University. She is currently working for a medical device company, and will continue her education in the fall as a Ph.D. student in biomedical engineering. Some of her best memories include studying abroad in Australia and teaching middle school students with the Women In Engineering program.

The Fischell Department of Bioengineering's Outstanding Research Award
Presented by the faculty on the basis of significant contributions to research, the department, and the field of bioengineering.

Awarded to Sara Johnson and Janina Vaitkus.

JohnsonSenior Sara Johnson began her work in Department of Materials Science and Engineering assistant professor Joonil Seog's lab in the fall of her sophomore year, working closely with a postdoctoral researcher to explore protein self-assembly aided with atomic force microscopy. After a year and a half, they published their findings on optimized self-assembly conditions in Chemical Communications. Johnson has presented more recent work on the molecular mechanism of self-assembly at the 2012 Mid-Atlantic Soft Matter workshop. She has been on the Clark School's Dean's list for five undergraduate semesters. She is currently exploring another field of interest working as an intern researcher at a startup medical device company, developing a long-term, implantable glucose sensor. This fall, she will join the Ph.D. program in bioengineering, with the goal of developing or improving minimally invasive optical imaging techniques for diagnostic applications.

VaitkusJanina Vaitkus, a senior, has conducted individual research in Dr. Helim Aranda-Espinoza’s Cell Biophysics Laboratory as well as team research through the University Honors Gemstone Program. For her individual research, she traveled to three society conferences (American Physical Society, Biomedical Engineering Society, and American Society for Cell Biology), where she gave two oral presentations and presented one poster. She was one of 25 University of Maryland seniors to be named a Philip Merrill Presidential Scholar, and has been recognized on the Dean’s List every semester since her matriculation. Outside of research and academics, Vaitkus has played on the University’s Women’s Club Lacrosse Team, where she was co-captain for two years, and has also worked in the Emergency Room at Anne Arundel Medical Center. Her interest of pursing medically-related research and treating patients has led to her passion of becoming a physician-scientist, and she will begin her journey at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine this fall in the M.D./Ph.D. program, where she will earn both degrees.

The Fischell Department of Bioengineering's Outstanding Volunteer Award
Presented to an excellent student who has contributed many hours of service to others.

Awarded to Amanda Dols and Addison Goodley.

DolsMandy Dols, a senior, has been involved with the SEEDS peer mentoring program, the Clark School Ambassadors program and the Society of Biological Engineers. Mandy has also served as president and vice president of the UMD Chapter of Alpha Omega Epsilon International Engineering Sorority since joining during her freshman year. Dols is an undergraduate research assistant in Assistant Professor Ian White's Photonic Biosensors Lab. She is a part of the Gemstone Program within the honors college and is currently working with her team to finish writing and prepare to defend their research thesis. She was also inducted into the Sigma Circle of Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society at the University of Maryland in the fall of 2011.

GoodleyAddison Goodley, a senior, has served on the Society of Biological Engineers (SoBE) executive board, and mentors two freshman bioengineering students in SoBE’s mentoring program. His January 2013 trip to Compone, Peru to assess the community’s need for a potable water system came after seven semesters of work on both local (a bioretention facility on campus) and Peruvian (potable water) projects for Engineers Without Borders. He helped incoming Gemstone freshman as a Gems Camp counselor and continues to be an active member of Tau Beta Pi and a lector at the Catholic Student Center. Goodley will remain at UMD in the fall to pursue a masters degree in bioengineering.

The Fischell Department of Bioengineering's Outstanding Citizen Award
Presented to an excellent student who has contributed significantly to the community, department, university, and profession.

Awarded to Miranda Hagen and David Peeler.

HagenSenior Mandy Hagen is a Banneker/Key Scholar, the Corporate Relations Chair for the Uniersity of Maryland Society of Biological Engineers, a Clark School Ambassador, a member of the Alpha Omega Epsilon engineering sorority and an NSF Successful Engineering Education and Development Support (SEEDS) program mentor. She is also involved in the University Honors Program and has been recognized on the Dean's List every semester since her enrollment. Hagen has conducted research for two divisions at the FDA as well as for past department faculty, and has delivered numerous poster and research presentations on her research, including at the Biomedical Engineering Society's and Institute of Biological Engineers' annual conferences. She was an undergraduate teaching fellow for the department and has held a part-time job on campus since her sophomore year.

PeelerDavid Peeler has been actively involved in the Society of Biological Engineers (SOBE, the campus chapter of BMES) since his freshman year, including terms as Vice President and President. In these roles, he has initiated several novel programs, including the first annual Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Research Day in conjunction with Johns Hopkins University; funding for 17 BioE undergraduates to travel to Atlanta for the Annual Meeting of the Biomedical Engineering Society; and a mentorship program that matched over 20 BioE underclassmen with knowledgeable BioE upperclassmen–all in addition to a host of other service-, social-, and fundraising-oriented activities that range from paintball compeittions to participation in STEM outreach programs for K-12 students. In the past year, while SOBE's membership tripled, David worked as an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Silvina Matysiak's Biomolecular Modeling Lab. He will graduate this December and looks forward to pursuing a graduate degree related to nanomedicine.

A. James Clark School of Engineering Awards

Outstanding ASPIRE Research Award
Presented by the Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute to the ASPIRE (A Scholars Program for Industry-Oriented Research in Engineering) student who has carried out the most successful research project.

Awarded to Ben Bulka

HagenIn his ASPIRE project, senior Ben Bulka designed and fabricated a novel bioreactor for compressing mesenchymal stem cells, which can differentiate into spinal cartilage tissue. He used the bioreactor to examine the cells' signaling pathways in search of improved treatments for back pain. His work resulted in two conference abstracts and two papers.

The Center for Minorities in Science and Engineering Service Award
This award is presented for dedicated service to the Clark School's Center for Minorities in Science and Engineering and the university community, and for commitment to promoting diversity in engineering.

Awarded to Stephanie Ihejirika.

HagenJunior Stephanie Ihejirika has been involved with the Center for Minorities in Science and Engineering since her participation in the Bridge Program for Scientists and Engineers the summer before her freshman year. One of her goals is to encourage younger students interested in engineering. She has been a mentor for the Bridge Program, a co-instructor in SPICE (Students with Potential and Interest Considering Engineering), as well as a co-instructor for ESTEEM (Engineering Science and Technology to Energize and Expand Young Minds). She looks forward to continuing to help CMSE fulfill its mission of recruiting, retaining, nad graduating underrepresented minorities in engineering.

Professional Society Awards

The Institute of Biological Engineering's (IBE) Annual Bioethics Essay Contest

  • Ariel Isser: First Place
  • Renee Mitchell: Second Place
  • Kristina Dziki: Third Place

To learn more, please see the related news story.

Congratulations to all of these exceptional students!

Published April 9, 2013