2020-2021 Blavatnik Fellows Announced

New cohort of doctoral scholars using engineering to advance human health

Sep 01 2020

Established in 2018 through the generosity of Access Industries founder and chairman Len Blavatnik MS’81, the Blavatnik Doctoral Fellowships support innovative research at the intersection of medicine and engineering. Now in its third year, the program provides resources for a new cohort of doctoral students whose research ranges from novel devices for faster diagnosis to using machine learning to uncover brain function.

“The Blavatnik Fellowships have greatly enhanced our ability to support talented doctoral students at a critical stage in their research,” said Mary C. Boyce, dean of Columbia Engineering. “We’re proud of our newest scholars and look forward to seeing how their contributions will lead to new discoveries that benefit human health.”

Kelia Human, Biomedical Engineering

Kelia Human will work with Professor Sam Sia to develop flexible and small electronics for biomedical purposes such as sensing and diagnostic testing. She will explore how such technology could help underserved communities and those in low resource environments.

Farid Khoury, Chemical Engineering

Farid Khoury will investigate the production of biofuels from green microalgae and work on protein engineering projects in the laboratory of Professor Scott Banta.

Panagiotis Oikonomou, Biomedical Engineering

Panagiotis Oikonomou will join Professor Nandan Nerurkar’s group at the Morphogenesis and Developmental Biomechanics Lab, investigating how embryonic tissues grow and change shape to form organs.

Shashwat Shukla, Electrical Engineering

Shashwat Shukla is interested in the application of signal processing and biologically-plausible machine learning to theoretically and computationally model brain function. He will work with Professor Aurel Lazar on uncovering the functional logic of the fruit fly brain.

Chaoqun Zhou, Mechanical Engineering

Chaoqun Zhou’s research is focused on delivering novel medical devices via micro/nanotechnology. She will work with Professor Jeffrey W. Kysar on the development of microfabricated ultra-sharp needles for inner-ear drug delivery.