September 2023 - BME Blaze: Maria Eleni Karakatsani

Sep 01 2023 | By Camryn Hadley

In this monthly spotlight, get to know the alumni and students of Columbia's Department of Biomedical Engineering. Read what our BME folks are up to, from our labs' latest research, to our students' plans for the future, to our teams' innovations, start-ups, and other career successes. We enjoyed catching up with Columbia BME alumna Maria Eleni Karakatsani as she discussed her experience at Columbia BME. Read below to get to know Marilena!


  • Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering – NTUA, Athens, Greece 2005-2010
  • Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering – Rutgers University, NJ, USA 2011-2013
  • PhD in Biomedical Engineering – Columbia University, NY, USA 2014-2020


Where are you from?

I’m from Athens, Greece!


What drew you to the field of Biomedical Engineering?

The advancements of technology in the medical field.


What is your current role?

I’m a research scientist at ETH, Zurich!


Why did you choose Columbia BME?

Two factors, Elisa herself and her research topic and the ranking of the university. The funding the PI raises combined with a tier A university attracts a lot of good researchers who can do great things together!


What were some of your favorite projects/memories from the program?

The Christmas BME parties! Absolutely my favorite, especially the one we won the ugly sweater contest!!!


What was your proudest moment at Columbia?

When the first Alzheimer’s patient joined the clinical trial! It was a dream come true for Elisa and proudest moment for myself! 


How has your experience with Columbia BME contributed towards your goals?

What do you mean? It shaped my future. :-)


What are your thoughts on the strength of Columbia BME's alumni network and how has that influenced your career path?

I’ll be honest, I’m not much involved in the alumni network. However, knowing it’s presence and activities feels like a safety net in the case I need to reach out!


Any words of wisdom or tips for prospective BME students?

Choose one member of your lab as the candidate for the ugly sweater contest, support it and be loud! That could be an analogy for life as well! DM for clarifications!


What are you excited about?

Workwise, I'm excited that after exploring industry for some years I’m back where I belong, research!

Lifewise, the prospect of going Heliskiing in December!!!




[Columbia BME] shaped my future. :-)

Maria Eleni Karakatsani, PhD
PhD in Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University; Research Scientist, ETH, Zurich

Images (clockwise from top left):

  • 2013: “My first lab outing before officially admitted to the program. We were treasure hunting in Highline/Meatpacking area.”
  • 2018: “Our escape room lab outing with some of my dearest friends present.”
  • 2019: “My last lab outing in the same spot as my first, the Highline! Soon after we had the COVID-19 outbreak!”



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