Three BME students selected for the 2017-2018 Attributes of a Gator Engineer Award

Three UF BME undergrad students were selected for an Attributes of a Gator Engineer Award. The Gator Engineering Attribute Awards are intended to provide an ideal guide for all members of the gator engineering community. Established in 2010 as part of the college’s centennial celebration, the Attributes of a Gator Engineer embody the college’s expectations of all students and faculty.

UF BME awardees:
•    Attribute of a Gator Engineer Award for Professional Excellence: Ella Hoogenboezem
•    Attribute of a Gator Engineer Award for Leadership: Rafael Marin
•    Attribute of a Gator Engineer Award for Integrity: Jake Pistiner


Professional Excellence: technically competent, skilled in management and planning, problem-solving, scientifically insightful

Ella Hoogenboezem is a fourth-year biomedical engineering student in Dr. Christine Schmidt’s lab. Ella’s primary research focus is on the development of an injectable decellularized nucleus pulposus scaffold for the treatment of degenerative disc disease. Degeneration of the intervertebral disc is the leading cause of low back pain, which will affect up to 84% of the population during their lifetime. Ella is also an applied research intern at RTI Surgical and investigates stem cell-derived therapies for osteoarthritis and other diseases. On campus, Ella has additionally been involved in Generational Relief in Prosthetics (GRiP), Circle K International and the UF Office of Sustainability. In her free time, Ella enjoys backpacking, scuba diving and travel. She received a 2017 National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship and will start her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at Vanderbilt University this fall.

Leadership: visionary, professional, skilled communicator, engaged and committed, entrepreneurial, inspiring, fair, mission-guided, caring, willing to delegate, sound perspective, sense of humor, positive attitude, confident, strong intuition, thoughtful

Rafael Marin is a fourth-year biomedical engineering student and is finishing up his research on brain-computer interfaces with BME affiliate, Dr. Karim Oweiss. Rafael is working to determine the role of the prefrontal cortex in goal-directed behavior. He has worked as the UF Student Government Senate secretary for three years and is also finishing his terms as vice president of Gator Internet of Things and vice president of Corporate Affairs for the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. Rafael is also involved with his senior design team and they have successfully created an intuitive visualization of a 1000-channel probe of neural data worth almost 1 TB of memory. In his free time, Rafael loves training his dog to perform ‘cool’ tricks and enjoys playing soccer and volleyball. Rafael plans to attend the Georgia Institute of Technology starting in the fall to pursue a Ph.D. in electrical & computer engineering.

Integrity: honest, ethical, willing to work for achievements (persistent, hard-working, determined), impelled toward right action, trustworthy, humble, inspires integrity in others

Jake Pistiner is a fourth-year biomedical engineering student in Dr. Blanka Sharma’s research lab. Jake has been working under the guidance of BME grad student, Shannon Brown on various experiments including studies with the characterization of nanoparticles and nanoparticle application in cartilage explants. For the past year, he has allocated his time toward a project used for completing his honors thesis titled: Development of a Device to Improve Clinical Relevance of Osteoarthritis Rat Models through Non-invasive Anterior Cruciate Ligament Rupture. Outside of his schoolwork, Jake has a passion for audio engineering and playing drums. Jake is currently deciding between his graduate school options in biomedical engineering.

The Attributes of a Gator Engineer Award is considered the greatest distinction of any student award given by the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering at UF and are intended to provide an ideal guide for all members of the UF engineering community. This year’s recipients will be officially recognized during the Faculty and Student Awards Luncheon on April 20, 2017.