Earlier this week, Internal Achievement Awards were officially announced at the Joint BME Department’s monthly meeting. The award committee highlighted the talents and accomplishments of the 2021 awardees in the following categories.
The BME Staff Service Award went to Ms. Darlene West. Darlene is smart, efficient, and takes great pride in her work and her efforts to keep the department running smoothly. She is not only excellent at her assigned tasks, but also excels at treating everyone she interacts (including the greater community) with respect and making sure that each person she serves has what they need to succeed.The scope of her contributions spans far-and-wide; ranging from financial, travel, and human resource administration; as well as on-site work skills trainer, human google on NC State policy, always handy temp replacement, and morale officer extraordinaire.
The BME Staff Teaching and Mentoring Award went to Dr. Susan Bernacki. Susan worked to develop new lab modules to teach cell culture techniques for the BME sophomore and junior design labs, while also managing the NC State Covid response. Susan’s dedication and hard work is appreciated by the students she mentors and trains in wet lab techniques.
The BME Faculty Service Award went to Dr. Jason Franz for his work as the BME Well-Being Liaison. Jason has been maintaining wellness meetings and providing resources to the department during a time where many feel its need. In particular, students appreciated the careful consideration he gave their voice, from hearing the concerns of GSA to taking feedback from individual students. He focused on their needs and provided mental health resources during the semester. For going beyond his already impressive contributions as a researcher, educator, and mentor, we’d like to recognize Jason for his efforts to support the members of our department in the area of mental health.
The BME Faculty Research Award went to Dr. Rahima Benhabbour. She has a new R01, an MCI grant, and an NCTraCS $50K grant along with 7 published papers in 2021, with two others currently under review. Rahima has presented at four International Conferences, 3 webinars and has been invited to serve as a panelist in the NIH World AIDS Day, an event that will feature Congresswoman Barbara Lee and several other high level White House representatives. She has received multiple awards including the Young Investigator Award from the CRS and a David Sokal Innovation Award and has been invited to serve as a member of the BMES Diversity Committee. Her startup company AnelleO, just landed a $2M Phase II SBIR and was recently featured in the WRAL’s Innovation Road Trip and highlighted by Chancellor Guskiewicz in his message to the university.
The BME Faculty Teaching and Mentoring Award went to Dr. Wesley Legant. The nominations spoke of Dr. Legant’s enthusiasm for teaching and commitment to fostering an engaging learning experience. In particular, students appreciated Dr. Legant’s thoughtful lesson plans and creativity in teaching tough material, especially during an unusual semester.
The BME Post-Doctoral Research Award went to Dr. Pritha Agarwalla. Dr. Agarwalla has been an absolute rockstar. She has an encyclopedic knowledge of the literature, a robust work ethic and is actively involved in training students and undergrads, who all love her. Her work has been published in Advanced Healthcare Materials (Impact Factor 7.5), but her most exciting work has been accepted for publication in Nature Biotechnology (Impact Factor: 55!). She is now working on a third, high-impact paper. Her main discoveries have been reproduced by industrial collaborators. These collaborators, Takara Bio USA and Oxford Biomedica have signed license agreements with our lab to commercialize Pritha’s technologies.
The awards for PhD Student Research went to Danielle Howe and Qiang Zhang. Danielle has made a number of contributions related to sex-specific differences in the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during growth, which have important translational implications for treatments after ACL injury in young patients. Danielle has published 3 first author and 2 co-author manuscripts and received a highly competitive F31 Fellowship from the National Institutes of Healing. In addition to her research, Danielle is committed to service; she has served as BME Graduate Student Association President and contributes to many outreach events. Qiang has made substantial contributions in the area of human muscle force prediction by combining ultrasound and surface electromyography techniques. He has also made breakthrough contributions that allow for the use of ultrasound data in real-time control of functional electrical stimulation and assistive devices. Qiang has published 4 first author papers and 2 co-author papers, with several papers currently under review. Qiang’s advisor was extremely supportive of his nomination and ranked him highly among peers. For these and many other reasons, Danielle and Qiang are highly deserving of this award.
Congratulations to all awardees for their outstanding accomplishments and continued support of the Joint BME Department!