During the 2024 Bioengineering Capstone Gala, 12 students, faculty, postdoctoral researchers and staff were recognized for their dedication and contributions to the UW Bioengineering community.

Research Awards

Nataly Kacherovsky

Nataly Kacherovsky, Senior Research Scientist

Research Award: Staff

Nataly has been a Senior Research Scientist/Engineer in Suzie Pun’s lab for the past

15 years, making invaluable contributions to our department. Her leadership has been pivotal in driving groundbreaking research initiatives. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Nataly proposed leveraging the lab’s aptamer expertise for SARS-CoV-2 detection, leading to significant advancements in research.

Additionally, Nataly’s leadership in developing aptamers for T cell isolation played a crucial role

in securing major grants and publishing significant research findings. In total, she has

contributed as a co-author to 12 manuscripts. Nataly’s exceptional dedication, scientific leadership and mentorship set the highest standards of excellence.

Surhbi Sharma

Surhbi Sharma, Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Award: Postdoc

Surhbi is a first-year postdoctoral fellow in Patrick Boyle’s Cardiac Systems Simulation (CardSS) lab. She has led multiple projects focusing on the translational applications of machine learning and artificial intelligence in cardiology. Her outstanding work is propelling the lab’s mission to develop an early warning system for detecting heart disease in childhood cancer survivors. Additionally, she has advanced tools for identifying individuals at risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Surhbi has also overhauled the computational software infrastructure, streamlining processes and reducing the startup time for new projects. Recently, she identified and resolved a bug in the published source code of another research group, ensuring the accuracy and usability of this tool for researchers worldwide.

Jasmine Zhou

Jasmine Zhou, PhD Candidate

Research Award: Graduate

Jasmine is a highly motivated graduate student whose research bridges neuroscience and engineering. Her dedication and innovative work have led to significant contributions, including several publications, patents, and presentations at prestigious conferences.

Jasmine’s notable projects in Azadeh Yazdan-Shahmorad’s Neural Engineering and Rehabilitation Design (NERD) lab include developing a stroke model in non-human primates and pioneering neuroprotective electrical stimulation techniques. Her groundbreaking work is under review at Nature Biomedical Engineering and has sparked collaborations with Rice University and UCSF. In addition to her research, Jasmine is an exceptional mentor, guiding students to prestigious awards and graduate programs. Her recent internship at Canaery further honed her skills and industry knowledge.

Rachel Mariko

Rachel Mariko Iritani, Undergraduate Student

Research Award: Undergraduate

A student in the NERD lab, Rachel’s primary focus has been on MRI processing for neurosurgery planning, aimed at building a large-scale interface for communication with brain networks. Her remarkable ability to swiftly acquire proficiency in SolidWorks, coupled with her dedication to mastering new skills, has been truly impressive. Her contributions have been instrumental in streamlining the process of custom implant design, leading to the development of invaluable tools for NHP researchers worldwide. Rachel’s accomplishments in this realm culminated in a first-author journal publication, underscoring the significance of her contributions to the field. She has also served as a mentor to a freshman student, providing invaluable guidance, support and fostering a collaborative environment within the lab.

Andre Berndt

Andre Berndt, Associate Professor

Research Award: Faculty

Andre’s groundbreaking research focuses on developing fluorescent sensors to detect chemical signals in the brain, enabling real-time monitoring of brain activity and deepening our understanding of conditions like autism and epilepsy. What’s more, these adaptable sensors have broad applications across different cell types, inspiring his lab to explore their potential in studying heart, pancreas and stem cells.

Andre has had an exceptionally productive year, with notable achievements including the publication of a groundbreaking article on developing calcium sensors using machine learning in Nature Computational Science (2024) and another on a high-throughput screening technique in ACS Sensors (2023).

Teaching Awards

Whit Fraleigh

Whit Fraleigh, Undergraduate Academic Counselor

Teaching Award: Staff

Whit currently serves as our department undergraduate advisor on the BioE Advising and Academic Services Team. Whit stands as a tireless advocate for individuals across all our cohorts, consistently going above and beyond to support their academic and personal growth. Their expertise shines particularly bright in the meticulous crafting of letters of recommendation, a skill especially evident in their guidance for prestigious honors like the Husky 100 awards.

Whit’s readiness to assist faculty in navigating challenging student situations reflects their unwavering commitment to fostering a positive and supportive academic environment. With their balanced and level-headed approach, Whit has become a cornerstone of our department, and we are truly fortunate to have them as part of our team.

Anne Pierce

Anne Pierce, Postdoctoral Scholar

Teaching Award: Postdoc

Anne is a postdoctoral scholar in the NERD Lab. Beyond her contributions to developing novel neural interfaces and investigating brain plasticity mechanisms, Anne excels as a research mentor. She has guided undergraduate students through their senior capstone projects, assisting them in planning experiments, supporting the IRB application process and navigating unforeseen challenges.

Despite many aspects of these projects being outside her primary area of expertise, Anne has gone above and beyond to ensure student success. She dedicates extra time and is readily available to meet with students, who deeply appreciate her support in navigating their research projects. Anne’s contributions extend far beyond her research, profoundly impacting the academic and personal growth of the students she mentors.

Kefan Song

Kefan Song, PhD Candidate

Teaching Award: Graduate

Kefan is a graduate student and mentor in Suzie Pun’s laboratory, consistently demonstrating dedication, expertise and generosity in her mentorship roles. Kefan‘s impactful mentorship has guided undergraduate student Omeed Yazdani to a Mary Gates Fellowship and co-authorship on two publications. She has also mentored multiple rotation students and junior scientists, generously sharing her time and knowledge, and is highly appreciated for her patient and effective mentoring style.

During her rotation in Suzie Pun’s lab, Kefan provided invaluable support to peer graduate students by demonstrating in vivo studies, offering hands-on learning opportunities and encouraging critical thinking. Her openness to suggestions and constructive feedback, along with her emotional support, made it easy to discuss concerns during challenging times.

Ceci Giachelli

Cecilia Giachelli, Steven R. and Connie R. Rogel Endowed Professor for Cardiovascular Innovation in Bioengineering

Teaching Award: Faculty

Ceci’s dedication to mentorship is evident in her successful guidance of over 50 research trainees, including individuals from diverse backgrounds such as women, people of color, LGBTQ+ and disabled students. Many of her mentees have received prestigious honors and pursued research-related careers, reflecting her impact in shaping the next generation of STEM leaders.

Ceci’s teaching excellence is well-established, with over 15 didactic courses developed and/or taught since 1994. Dr. Giachelli has mentored numerous research trainees across various levels, from undergraduate students to clinical fellows. Her mentees have garnered recognition through NIH and NSF fellowships, further highlighting her commitment to nurturing talent in biomedical research.

Recognized for her outstanding mentorship, Ceci has received accolades such as the University of Washington Postdoctoral Fellow Association Mentor of the Year Award and the UW School of Medicine Mentor Award. Her multifaceted contributions as an educator, mentor and advocate exemplify her commitment to creating a welcoming and supportive environment for research and learning.

Service Awards

Daniel Shin

Daniel Shin, MS Student

Service Award: Graduate

Daniel has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to excellence in both service and teaching within the department. As a TA for BIOEN325, Daniel has consistently demonstrated exceptional instructional expertise, remarkable communication skills and remarkable leadership abilities. Daniel’s influence goes beyond the classroom. His proactive problem-solving and dedication to student success makes him invaluable. Numerous students have relied on Daniel’s guidance for smooth academic progress. His enthusiasm for learning ignites a fire within his students, propelling them towards excellence and self-discovery.

Chelsea Musick

Chelsea Musick, Grants Manager

Service Award: Staff

Chelsea has been an integral part of UW since 1997 and served in various administrative roles in Bioengineering starting in 2005. Paul Yager was elated to have her as an administrator for 11 years, after which she transitioned to her role as Grants Manager. Paul attests that his years working with Chelsea were the most  productive of his career. Chelsea has recently taken a new position as the Director of Research Administration for the College of Education. While Bioengineering will miss her dearly, we also wish Chelsea all the best in this exciting new endeavor.

Chelsea’s management style is exemplary, going above and beyond the call of duty. She skillfully navigated through challenging times, providing unwavering support and a sympathetic shoulder when needed. Her dedication and expertise have made a lasting impact on our department. Chelsea’s unwavering optimism, exceptional relationship-building skills and steady calm made her an indispensable member of our department. Her cheerful demeanor and strong connections with key grant-approval personnel ensured smooth communication and successful outcomes, even in the most stressful situations.

Chelsea’s remarkable composure and problem-solving abilities have guided us through impossible deadlines and complex challenges, making her an invaluable asset. Her support has been crucial, especially during the financial transformation at UW, easing the process for everyone involved.

An Vu

An Vu, Undergraduate Student

Service Award: Undergraduate

An’s journey is a testament to his unwavering dedication and resilience. An returned to the Bioengineering undergraduate program during the 2023-24 academic year after taking time off to serve in the military. He has successfully navigated a rigorous bioengineering curriculum and the demands of military training while remaining a friendly and welcoming presence in his cohort and throughout the department.

Whether in the classroom or in the barracks, An exhibits remarkable leadership, discipline, and strong work ethic. His commitment to his studies is unparalleled, demonstrated by his excellent academic performance, even while balancing an unpredictable schedule of military training and deployments. What sets An apart is not just his academic achievements or military service, but his passion for making a difference in the world around him. Whether through advocacy or volunteering, An exemplifies care for his communities.