BME Celebrates the Class of 2018

Class of 2018
The University of Texas at Austin granted 105 bachelor's, 11 master's, and 14 doctoral degrees in biomedical engineering at spring commencement on May 18, 2018.

Prior to the Cockrell School of Engineering's ceremony, the Department of Biomedical Engineering hosted a reception for graduates and their friends and family. View photos from the BME Graduation Reception.

Department Chair Shelly Sakiyama-Elbert presented Franz Belz and Amanda Meriwether with undergraduate student leadership awards and Alicia Allen and Adrianne Spencer with graduate student leadership awards.

Franz Belz
Franz Belz (B.S. 2018) was recognized for leading the Undergraduate Advisory Board and BME Mental Health Initiative with activities such as Gratitude Week. Belz also served as the Dell Medical School student liaison for UT Austin’s Biomedical Engineering Society student chapter. He studied in Professor Andrew Dunn’s lab, where he worked on developing a new mechanism for drug delivery to the brain and synthesized nanoparticles for improved drug delivery in lung and breast cancer treatments. He will attend Duke Medical School in the fall.

Amanda Meriwether and Shelly Sakiyama-Elbert
Amanda Meriwether (B.S., B.A. 2018), an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship recipient, double-majored in biomedical engineering and Plan II Honors. She studied in Jeanne Stachowiak’s lab, where she helped engineer a targeted system to increase drug delivery. Meriwether has two peer-reviewed journal publications and presented at five professional conferences. She served as president of Alpha Eta Mu Beta honors society, where she led the department’s peer mentorship program., and as president of the Biomedical Outreach and Leadership Team, where she created STEM lessons for elementary school students. Meriwether will attend graduate school in biomedical engineering at UC Berkeley in the fall.

Alicia Allen
Alicia Allen (Ph.D. 2018), a 2015 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship recipient and Fulbright scholar, conducted her doctoral research with Professor Janet Zoldan, studying the role of biomaterials in cardiac tissue engineering applications. She mentored over 10 undergraduate research assistants, has 8 peer-reviewed journal articles, including 2 first author publications. Allen has presented at six professional conferences.

Adrianne Spencer and Shelly Sakiyama-Elbert
Adrianne Spencer (Ph.D. 2018), a 2013 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship recipient, conducted her doctoral research with Professor Aaron Baker, developing a test to measure cancer cell adhesion under shear stress and examined the role of biomechanical forces on breast cancer metastasis. Spencer was nominated by her undergraduate mentees for the 2018 Undergraduate Research Mentorship Award and led social activities for visiting undergraduate summer research experience participants. Additionally, Spencer participated in multiple K-12 STEM outreach activities, including working with a fifth-grade science teacher to develop learning activities and curriculum and volunteered at The Thinkery, a hands-on children’s science museum in Austin.