Michael Magaraci, Research Scientist at Protein Evolution and alumnus of Penn Bioengineering, featured in CT Insider for the New Haven, CT startup’s quest to replace the global recycling system. The company, founded in 2021, is working on methods to eventually recycle polyester fabrics, rugs, and other materials that end up in landfills. Magaraci, who serves as director of platform engineering, earned a bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering and Economics in the Jerome Fisher Program in Management & Technology from Penn Engineering and the Wharton School of Business in 2013. He stayed with Penn Bioengineering for his doctoral research, completed in 2021. During his time at Penn, he worked as a Teaching Assistant and Laboratory Technician, advised Penn iGEM Teams, and served with Engineers Without Borders.
Joshua C. Doloff, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Materials Science & Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, featured in The Jewish News Syndicate for his work on “Hope,” a new technology which offers pain- and injection-free treatment to people with Type 1 or “juvenile” diabetes. Doloff is an alumnus of Penn Bioengineering, Class of 2004:
“Doloff received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his graduate degrees from Boston University. In addition to his post in Johns Hopkins’ Department of Biomedical Engineering, he is a member of the Translational Tissue Engineering Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His lab is interested in systems biology with an emphasis on engineering improved therapies in the fields of cancer, autoimmunity, transplantation medicine, including Type 1 diabetes and ophthalmology.”
The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), the largest cancer research organization in the country and based in Philadelphia, will bestow its 2023 Award for Lifetime Achievement in Cancer Research to Carl June, Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Penn Medicine. June is also Director of the Center for Cellular Immunotherapies, Director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, and member of the Penn Bioengineering Graduate Group. He is recognized for his groundbreaking work in developing the first gene-editing cell therapy for cancer and for his pioneering work with CAR T cell therapy.
LeAnn Dourte, Practice Associate Professor in Bioengineering, has been awarded a 2023 Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence by Non-Standing Faculty.
“This award reflects LeAnn’s innovation and dedication in teaching our students in Bioengineering’s biomechanics, biomaterials and biomechatronics classes and labs,” says Ravi Radhakrishnan, Professor and Chair of Bioengineering. “She is a core member of our teaching faculty, spearheading the Department’s initiatives to improve experiential learning and classroom experiences through the SAIL model of education.”
The Structured, Active, In-Class Learning (or SAIL) model of education emphasizes teamwork and dynamic problem-solving. According to Penn’s Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), SAIL “provides students with the opportunity to struggle through the application of course ideas and material, often the most difficult part of learning for students, with guidance from instructors as well as help from their peers.”
In addition to her pedagogical interests, Dourte serves on the Bioengineering Climate Committee and is also highly involved in student wellness programming, serving as the Department’s Wellness Ambassador for the School.
The Provost’s Awards for Teaching Excellence by Non-Standing Faculty were established in 1988.
Kuo, who is also minoring in Mathematics, comes to Penn from Taipei, Taiwan. Her interests within her major include mechanical design and product design, and she is passionate about space exploration and advancing human spaceflight.
This award will continue to be presented each year to a Penn Engineering senior who best exemplifies the energy, enthusiasm and excellence that was Maddie.
The award for Undergraduate Excellence was established in honor of Madison “Maddie” N. Magee, who graduated with both a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics (MEAM) and a master’s degree in Bioengineering (BE) in 2021. Maddie passed away while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail on May 28, 2022. Read more about this award here.
There was a time before time when the universe was tiny, dense, and hot. In this world, time didn’t even exist. Space didn’t exist. That’s what current theories about the Big Bang posit, says Vijay Balasubramanian, the Cathy and Marc Lasry Professor of Physics. But what does this mean? What did the beginning of the universe look like? “I don’t know, maybe there was a timeless, spaceless soup,” Balasubramanian says. When we try to describe the beginning of everything, “our words fail us,” he says.
Yet, for thousands of years, humans have been trying to do just that. One attempt came 75 years ago from physicists George Gamow and Ralph Alpher. In a paper published on April 1, 1948, Alpher and Gamow imagined the universe starts in a hot, dense state that cools as it expands. After some time, they argued, there should have been a gas of neutrons, protons, electrons, and neutrinos reacting with each other and congealing into atomic nuclei as the universe aged and cooled. As the universe changed, so did the rates of decay and the ratios of protons to neutrons. Alpher and Gamow were able to mathematically calculate how this process might have occurred.
Now known as the alpha-beta-gamma theory, the paper predicted the surprisingly large fraction of helium and hydrogen in the universe. (By weight, hydrogen comprises 74% of nuclear matter, helium 24%, and heavier elements less than 1%.)
The findings of Gamow and Alpher hold up today, Balasubramanian says, part of an increasingly complex picture of matter, time and space. Penn Today spoke with Balasubramanian about the paper, the Big Bang, and the origin of the universe.
People with epilepsy are often prescribed anti-seizure medications, and, while they are effective for many, about 30% of patients still continue to experience seizures. Litt sought new ways to offer patients better treatment options by investigating a class of devices that electronically stimulate cells in the brain to modulate activity known as neurostimulation devices.
Litt’s research on implantable neurostimulation devices has led to significant breakthroughs in the technology and has broadened scientists’ understanding of the brain. This work started not long after he came to Penn in 2002 with licensing algorithms to help drive a groundbreaking device by NeuroPace, the first closed-loop, responsive neurostimulator to treat epilepsy.
Building on this work, Litt noted in 2011 how the implantable neurostimulation devices being used at the time had rigid wires that didn’t conform to the brain’s surface, and he received support from CURE Epilepsy to accelerate the development of newer, flexible wires to monitor and stimulate the brain.
“CURE is one of the epilepsy community’s most influential funding organizations,” Litt says. “Their support for my lab has been incredibly helpful in enabling the cutting-edge research that we hope will change epilepsy care for our patients.”
They are among the 413 students named 2023 Goldwater Scholars from more than 5,000 students nominated by 427 academic institutions in the United States, according to the Barry Goldwater Scholarship & Excellence in Education Foundation. Each scholarship provides as much as $7,500 each year for as many as two years of undergraduate study.
Penn has produced 59 Goldwater Scholars since Congress established the scholarship in 1986 to honor U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater.
Angela Song, from Princeton Junction, New Jersey, is a third-year majoring in bioengineering in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. She is interested in engineering molecular therapeutics for disease. She works in Douglas C. Wallace’s lab in the Center for Mitochondrial and Epigenomic Medicine at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, focusing on designing engineered proteins with mitochondrial applications. At Penn, Song is the vice president of design for UnEarthed, a student-published educational magazine for West Philadelphia elementary school children, and president of the Penn American Red Cross Club. After graduating, Song plans to continue pursuing research through a Ph.D. in bioengineering.
Read the full list of Penn 2023 Goldwater Scholars in Penn Today.
Read about previous Penn Bioengineering Goldwater Scholars here.
Penn Engineering announced the faculty recipients of the 2023 Student Choice Awards (formerly the Teaching and Advising Awards). Each year, the Penn Engineering undergraduate student body thoughtfully selects the recipients of these awards for their dedication in teaching, mentorship and student advocacy. This year also features two new awards, the Student Advocacy Award and the Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award.
Brit Shields, Senior Lecturer in Bioengineering, is the inaugural recipient of the Student Advocacy Award. This award is presented to a member of the Penn Engineering faculty by the Underrepresented Student Advisory Board in Engineering in recognition of their outstanding commitment to women and underrepresented student advocacy, equity and inclusion.
Shields completed a Ph.D. at Penn in 2015 in History and Sociology of Science, with a dissertation on scientific diplomacy through the example of Richard Courant and New York University, where Shields completed an M.A. in Humanities and Social Thought: Science Studies.
She was promoted to Senior Lecturer in Bioengineering in 2019. She has brought her expertise in the history and sociology of science to her leading role in developing and improving the ethics curriculum for all students in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.
His research aims to combat global health threats such as COVID-19 and Alzheimer’s disease by better understanding how proteins function and malfunction, especially through new computational and experimental methods that map protein structures. This understanding of protein dynamics can lead to effective new treatments for even the most seemingly resistant diseases.
“Delivering the right treatment to the right person at the right time is vital to sustaining—and saving—lives,” Magill said. “Greg Bowman’s novel work holds enormous promise and potential to advance new forms of personalized medicine, an area of considerable strength for Penn. A gifted researcher and consummate collaborator, we are delighted to count him among our distinguished PIK University Professors.”
Bowman came to Penn from the Washington University School of Medicine’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, where he served on the faculty since 2014. He previously completed a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley.
Bowman’s research utilizes high-performance supercomputers for simulations that can better explain how mutations and disease change a protein’s functions. These simulations are enabled in part through the innovative Folding@home project, which Bowman directs. Folding@home empowers anyone with a computer to run simulations alongside a consortium of universities, with more than 200,000 participants worldwide.
His research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging, and Packard Foundation, among others, and he has received a CAREER Award from the NSF, Career Award at the Scientific Interface from the Burroughs Wellcome Fund, and Thomas Kuhn Paradigm Shift Award from the American Chemical Society. He received a Ph.D. in biophysics from Stanford University and a B.S. (summa cum laude) in computer science, with a minor in biomedical engineering, from Cornell University.
“Greg Bowman’s highly innovative work,” Winkelstein said, “exemplifies the power of our interdisciplinary mission at Penn. He brings together supercomputers, biophysics, and biochemistry to make a vital impact on public health. This brilliant fusion of methods—in the service of improving people’s lives around the world—will be a tremendous model for the research of our faculty, students, and postdocs in the years ahead.”
The Penn Integrates Knowledge program is a University-wide initiative to recruit exceptional faculty members whose research and teaching exemplify the integration of knowledge across disciplines and who are appointed in at least two schools at Penn.
The Louis Heyman University Professorship is a gift of Stephen J. Heyman, a 1959 graduate of the Wharton School, and his wife, Barbara Heyman, in honor of Stephen Heyman’s uncle. Stephen Heyman is a University Emeritus Trustee and member of the School of Nursing Board of Advisors. He is Managing Partner at Nadel and Gussman LLC in Tulsa, Oklahoma.