Research and Teaching Assistant Ceremony
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Engineering PhD Graduates Honored with the Outstanding PhD Research Award and the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award

Each year, the University of Miami (UM) College of Engineering (CoE) honors exceptional graduate students with two awards: the Outstanding PhD Research Award and the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.

This year, two students received the Outstanding PhD Research Award. Cagri Oztan (PhD candidate in mechanical engineering  ’19) and Yu-Cherng Channing Chang (MD/PhD candidate in biomedical engineering ’19) are being honored for their extraordinary research accomplishments and remarkable academic achievements during their time as graduate students at UM CoE.

Oztan, whose research surrounds the synthesis and advanced manufacturing of nanoengineered thermoelectric materials, also has performed high quality and impactful research as a graduate student in UM CoE. Oztan was the leading author in four of his five publications, leading the research by designing and performing the experiments, analyzing the data and writing the manuscripts. Oztan’s advisor, Emrah Celik, assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering says that “the prestige of the journals Oztan has published shows the impact of the research he has been performing at University of Miami. Oztan is – by far – the most productive, creative and hardworking graduate student I have worked with.”

Chang, who is currently enrolled in the combined MD/PhD at the UM Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine, has been researching image processing and optical coherence tomography since he arrived at UM in 2013. He is the first UM MD-PhD student to graduate with a PhD in biomedical engineering (BME). In addition to his dissertation research, Chang has authored a total of eight manuscripts in high quality peer-reviewed journals during his doctoral research period, including six as a first author. He also is the recipient of a highly competitive National Institutes of Health pre-doctoral fellowship grant which fully funds his doctoral research. “Chang’s outstanding publication record and excellent research productivity make him a model graduate student,” says his advisor, Fabrice Manns, professor and chair of the College’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. “His research and academic contributions will have a lasting impact in the field of imaging.”

Additionally, Siobhan Williams, a PhD candidate ’19 in UMCoE’s BME, received the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award for her distinguished contributions to student learning through excellence in instruction. This award also celebrates Williams’s dedication to her role as a teaching assistant, regularly exceeding the typical expectations of a teaching assistant. For instance, in Biomedical Instrumentation Laboratory (BME 440) – one of the courses Williams served as teaching assistant for – she found that students struggled with their laboratory reports. After interviewing the students, she realized that the students did not clearly understand the purpose and expectations of the reports. On her own, Williams developed a tutorial for students to clarify the confusion and gave a lecture to help them. “The tutorial was so well done that we distributed it to all department faculty for use in their courses,” says Fabrice Manns. “This award is a wonderful recognition of her exceptional dedication and creativity in helping improve the students’ learning experience.”

Sponsored annually by the UMCoE, these prestigious awards recognize outstanding graduate student research assistants (RAs) and teaching assistants (TAs) for their distinguished contributions to research and teaching, respectively. Recipients of the Outstanding PhD Research Award and the Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award will be recognized during the Graduate Engineering Student Council Picnic on April 23.

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