The UW Department of Bioengineering recognizes the commendable contributions of the following faculty, staff and students to the department and the broader university community over the past year.

Teaching Awards

Tony Fu

Teaching Awards: Graduate Students

Tony Fu, M.S. Student

During his time as a Teaching Assistant within the bioengineering department, Tony has consistently gone above and beyond his station to help students, providing hands-on guidance during lab sessions and hosting weekly office hours to answer questions and provide feedback. His patience, compassion and intellect have been an inspiration to many in the 2024 bioengineering cohort.

Teaching Awards: Staff

Colleen Irvin, Facility & Instructional Lab Operations Manager

As a staff member in the bioengineering department, Colleen has shown a remarkable commitment to ensuring that our building is a safe environment for everyone. She makes it a point to regularly inspect the building and report any safety concerns to the appropriate personnel. Moreover, Colleen has taken the initiative to organize and help with workshops and training sessions for the department. Additionally, her efforts to maintain a safe environment for our community have been crucial during the pandemic, as she implemented new safety protocols and ensured compliance with guidelines from health authorities. Her dedication to building safety has undoubtedly played a significant role in keeping our community safe and healthy during this challenging time.

Colleen Irvin
Chris Neils

Teaching Awards: Faculty

Chris Neils, Teaching Professor

Chris Neils’ passion for teaching is evident through his strong dedication to his students, whether it is staying after class to answer questions, learning lyrics to current songs and figuring out how to slip them into his lecture, or working tirelessly to ensure courses are properly supported by managing the TA/Grader appointments. He should be recognized for his hard work and dedication to ensuring that BioE undergraduate students learned the materials needed to graduate and be successful in the field.

Service Awards

Service Awards: Graduate Students

Veronica Porubsky, Ph.D. Candidate

Veronica has been working hard to create a community that includes all members within the BioE department. Notable highlights include monthly Coffee Chats, weekly campus walks, and a variety of cultural events designed to bring students, staff and faculty together. Building and maintaining a community is especially difficult post-pandemic, and so these events are extra special and would not be possible without Veronica’s efforts.

Veronica Porubsky
Chelsea Musick

Service Awards: Staff

Chelsea Musick, Grants and Contracts Manager

What sets Chelsea apart is her willingness to go above and beyond her job responsibilities. She is always willing to help out and generously shares her time and expertise to assist colleagues in the department. Overall, Chelsea has been a key member of our department and her dedication, hard work and positive attitude have been an inspiration to us all.

Service Awards: Faculty

Marta Scatena & Hao Kueh, Co-Chairs of the Graduate Admissions Committee

As Co-Chairs of the Graduate Admissions committee, Marta and Kueh implemented big changes to our admissions process. This past year they worked on creating and implementing a new rubric for the Ph.D./M.S. admissions review, which was applied universally to all applicants. This increased the number of applications each reviewer read, so an effective rubric and admissions process was paramount to making this committee a success. We made a record number of applicant offers this year, which has resulted in one of the largest Ph.D. and M.S. cohorts in years. The success of this admissions cycle would not be where it is without the great service Marta and Kueh provided in their roles.

Marta Scatena
Hao Kueh
Marta Scatena & Hao Kueh, Co-Chairs of the Graduate Admissions Committee

Research Awards

Alan Levinson

Research Awards: Undergraduate Students

Alan Levinson, Undergraduate Student

Alan’s unwavering curiosity and eagerness to learn led him to join the Sniadecki lab, where he pursued his interest in cardiovascular tissue engineering research. Alan’s dedication culminated in his senior capstone project, where he successfully developed a novel engineered heart tissue platform to model hypertension and accelerate drug discovery. Alan is always eager to share his research, presenting his work at numerous conferences and symposiums.

Research Awards: Graduate Students

Karam Khateeb, Ph.D. Candidate

At UW, Karam has been involved in a variety of projects extending across multiple disciplines. Through his work on these projects, he has established himself as a productive and insightful member of the lab, working alongside undergraduate students, graduate students and collaborators. His contributions to these projects have led to nine abstracts, four conference papers, two oral presentations at international conferences and six journal papers. In addition, he received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the University of Washington Top Scholar award in 2019 as well as the NIH F99/K00 award (an award that supports transition to aging research for predoctoral students) in 2023.

Karam Khateeb
Tran Nguyen

Research Awards: Post-doctoral Scholars

Tran Nguyen, Post-doctoral Researcher

Tran Nguyen wrote an innovative research proposal and was accepted as a postdoc to the Folch lab, where a new line of research was opened based on her ideas. The results of the ensuing research were used to write a paper and led to the lab receiving an R01 grant from the National Cancer Institute worth $3.3 million. She has also presented the results at numerous conferences and is now applying for faculty jobs.

Research Awards: Assistant Professor

Andre Berndt, Assistant Professor

Andre Berndt’s research focuses on the development of fluorescent biosensors to detect biochemical signals in neuronal networks in real time. By monitoring the activity of various molecules in live tissue and behaving animals, he provides invaluable insights into information processing within neurons and neuronal networks. This innovative approach has tremendous potential for understanding neurological disorders such as autism and epilepsy. Notably, his efforts have been acknowledged through the 2022 McKnight Technological Innovations in Neuroscience Award, where he was commended for his groundbreaking work.

Andre Berndt

Mentorship Awards

Sarah Nick

Mentorship Awards: Graduate Students

Sarah Nick, Ph.D. Candidate

Sarah is always very responsive and goes out of her way to look out for the well-being of other students, both in research and beyond. She helps students feel welcome in the lab and the intimidating world of research not only through her friendly demeanor, but also by guiding them to be confident in independent work. Sarah understands that starting out in the lab can be daunting and overwhelming, and she takes the time to help novice researchers feel confident about their efforts. Sarah has been a steady presence of technical knowledge, laboratory skills, growth-mindset lessons and moral support.

Mentorship Awards: Post-doctoral Scholars

Alireza Ahmadianyazdi, Post-doctoral Researcher

Alireza “Ali” Ahmadianyazdi is a postdoc in the lab of Albert Folch, where he works on 3D printing and has innovated a new 3D-printable polymer with the same Young’s polymer (elasticity) as PDMS (polydimethylsiloxane). He has also spent a generous amount of time mentoring junior members in the lab. First and foremost, thanks to Ali’s mentorship, one of our students has participated in one submitted publication as well as in two posters at international conferences. Ali also mentors two master’s students, who are using his technique to 3D print multimaterial connectors and to build modular microfluidic devices.

Alireza Ahmadianyazdi
Shirley Nollette

Mentorship Awards: Staff

Shirley Nollette, Faculty HR Specialist

Shirley is an exceptional colleague who consistently demonstrates outstanding work ethic, and she routinely helps faculty with their promotion and tenure processes. Her expertise in this area is invaluable, given her extensive experience. Shirley takes the initiative to mentor faculty early on, providing them with guidance throughout the process. She goes above and beyond to advocate for faculty, ensuring that a compelling case is presented. Overall, Shirley’s exemplary work with faculty on promotion and tenure matters serves as a testament to her remarkable commitment and the significant impact she has on shaping positive outcomes.

Mentorship Awards: Faculty

Soraya Bailey, Assistant Teaching Professor

Soraya Bailey has been an amazing mentor to the MAB (Master of Applied Bioengineering) students during her time in the department. This is especially evident this past year, with one of the teams winning the top prize at the Holloman Health Innovation Challenge. She consistently goes above and beyond to help prospective and current students, whether it is answering their routine questions, figuring out solutions to meet their unique needs or connecting them with resources to propel them towards their future goals. This program would not be where it is now without her strong mentorship and leadership skills.

Soraya Bailey

Leadership Awards

Elena Seaholm

Leadership Awards: Undergraduate Students

Elena Seaholm, Undergraduate Student

On top of her leadership activities across the department, Elena was key in planning and executing our new departmental yearbook. As suggested by her emails to the BioE community, this initiative showed optimism and perseverance, and Elena took the first big step toward what we hope will be an annual tradition. Elena was also the senior class speaker at this year’s BioE graduation, showing clearly the respect that her peers have for her. They know best the strong leadership that she has contributed to our department over the past three years.

Leadership Awards: Graduate Students

Trey Pichon, Ph.D. Candidate

Trey is a Ph.D. student in the lab of Suzie Pub. He is the president of the UW chapter of Bioengineers without Borders, an organization that seeks to promote engineering solutions to better the lives of people in low/middle income countries He has also been instrumental in developing a formal mentorship program that matches undergraduate students with graduate student mentors. Additionally, Trey has helped organize various social events, including Coffee Chats, cultural celebrations and laboratory safety events, which have brought together students, staff and faculty from different research groups and backgrounds.

Trey Pichon
Ruth Woods

Leadership Awards: Staff

Ruth Woods, Director of Finance and Operations

Ruth plays a key role in ensuring smooth communication between faculty, students and staff. In particular, Ruth has been instrumental in helping the department navigate the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Her leadership has been critical in ensuring that everyone in the department stays safe while continuing to carry out important research and teaching activities. Ruth’s skills have been instrumental in ensuring that the department can continue to operate effectively during times of change. Her attention to detail and ability to keep everyone on the same page has been a tremendous asset to the department

Leadership Awards: Faculty

Yingye Fang, Acting Instructor and Senior Research Scientist

Yingye “Cheri” Fang is a highly accomplished acting instructor in the lab of Princess Imoukhuede. Beyond her impressive research accomplishments, she has played a critical role in supporting the laboratory’s research efforts. She has been instrumental in training students and post-doctoral researchers in both computational and experimental research, contributed to setting up the new lab and recruiting research personnel, and delivered seminars across the university to share our research findings. Moreover, she has expertly managed collaborations between our university and several prominent institutions.

Yingye "Cheri" Fang

Chair’s Awards

Kathryn Denecke, Ciana Lopez, Trey Pichon, Veronica Porubsky, Lillian Tatka

Chair’s Awards: Graduate Students

Kathryn Denecke, Ciana Lopez, Trey Pichon, Veronica Porubsky , and Lillian Tatka

Over the past two years, Ciana, Trey, Veronica, Lily and Kate have dedicated themselves to organizing a variety of events and initiatives that have brought people together and fostered a spirit of camaraderie and inclusivity. Some of the highlights of their work include organizing monthly Coffee Chats and weekly campus walks where students, staff and faculty can come together to discuss a variety of topics, from research to personal interests. The dedication and leadership shown by these students has been critical in building a sense of community within our department in the wake of the pandemic.

Chair’s Awards: Staff

Kalei Combs, Academic Counselor, Graduate Programs

Kalei has been an essential member of our department, and her contributions have been invaluable to our department’s success. During her time as a graduate academic counselor, Kalei has taken on several roles and responsibilities beyond her job description. When several staff left our department, Kalei stepped up to ensure that our day-to-day operations continued seamlessly. Kalei’s dedication, commitment and willingness to go above and beyond her duties are truly remarkable, and her tireless efforts have made a significant impact on our department.

Kalei Combs
Patrick Boyle

Chair’s Awards: Faculty

Patrick Boyle, Assistant Professor

Patrick “Pat” Boyle was not assigned to work on the Graduate Admissions Committee this year, but he volunteered his time and expertise to help update our review spreadsheets to integrate the new rubric scoring and then devised a system to collate and sort the review scores. His work absolutely streamlined the process and saved many hours that our co-chairs could then spend on application review. Additionally, Pat came to the rescue again in January and was able to create ranked lists we were able to sort by overall rank and by separate score categories. This list helped inform our large admissions committee meeting and kept us from doing many many hours of tedious manual work. Pat truly embodies team spirit and being willing to chip in even when it is not his official assignment (and with a good attitude to boot).