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ENG professor receives award for outstanding teaching, research

Boston University associate professor of biomedical engineering Catherine Klapperich was selected as the inaugural holder of the Dorf-Ebner Distinguished Faculty Fellow award for her extensive and groundbreaking research in the fields of science and engineering.

The award is issued once every five years and grants the recipient $100,000 in research or initiative funding over a five-year period, according to an April 3 press release from BU’s College of Engineering.

“I am very pleased to receive this award,” Klapperich said. “It honors one of my first mentors at BU, Dr. Merrill Ebner. He was one of the most important people in the history of the BU College of Engineering.”

Klapperich’s research is focused around point-of-care diagnostics and developing low cost, handheld, microfluidic chips that can be used to extract nucleic acids from human disease samples. The money from the award will provide her with the ability to finance some of her ideas that she is looking to pursue.

“The funding will allow me a bit of flexibility in funding some new ideas in the lab that are currently unfunded,” she said. “It is great to have the ability to explore some new directions.”

Postdoctoral associate in the department of biomedical engineering Andy Fan, a researcher in Klapperich’s lab, said Klapperich’s two main focuses are education and helping people.

“She focuses on two things: One, education and teaching people how to think in a logical fashion and do research in a good high integrity kind of way; and two, helping people,” Fan said. “Her research is based on helping people. She wants to help people, not win a noble prize.”

Fan said one of the factors that distinguishes Klapperich from other professors is that she has adapted her curriculum to incorporate technology and keep students engaged.

“She streamlined the whole course towards the 21st century and she’s adapted her curriculum to the times,” he said. “She’s very tech savvy, and she brings that element to the senior project. She’s not like an old school professor.”

Jacqueline Linnes, a postdoctoral associate in the department of biomedical engineering and one of Klapperich’s researchers, said Klapperich serves as a role model for women looking to break into the field of science.

“In addition to being a great leader and advocate for women in science and engineering, working with Professor Klapperich has taught me to focus on solving problems that have an immediate real world need and to always consider how the solutions will actually be implemented in the real world,” she said.

Linnes said that one of the greatest things about working with Klapperich is that she effectively manages the research lab while still maintaining a personalized manner of teaching.

“Professor Klapperich has done an amazing job balancing the lab’s high impact research while still maintaining a very personable teaching style and contributing to the graduate curriculum and committees,” she said.

Lena Liu, an administrative assistant who works closely with Klapperich at BU’s Center for Future Technologies in Cancer Care, said working with Klapperich has been a valuable experience.

“Working with Professor Klapperich has been great opportunity for me to expand my knowledge in research,” Liu said. “She has given various opportunities that I am thankful for. She has been a mentor to me by leading by example through her research and experiences. I admire her ability to make a strong impact in her research field.”

Liu said Klapperich is the perfect candidate for the Dorf-Ebner award, as she is both distinguished in the field of biomedical engineering and a distinguished educator.

“Professor Klapperich, in my opinion, is the most qualified individual for the award,” she said. “Not only is she a well-respected individual in the field of point-of-care technologies and microfluidics, but also a distinguished professor and a mentor.”

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