BME Department Announces Mackey Fellowship and Sotak Inclusive Excellence Award Winners for 2022


Biomedical Engineering

On behalf of the Biomedical Engineering Department Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee, we are pleased to announce that the winners of the Mackey Fellowship are Elzani van Zyl and Kate Mistretta. The committee would like to acknowledge and thank all applicants for their commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.  The Mackey Fellowship ($10,000), provides 3 months of summer stipend at $3,000 per month, and a $1,000 professional development fund to support society memberships, conference travel, or lab supplies to support her dissertation project.  In recognition of their dedication to inclusive excellence in their field, Mackey Fellows participate as a full members of the Biomedical Engineering DEI Committee.  We would like to express our gratitude and appreciation to the Mackey family for their generous donation and support, which makes this fellowship possible!

Elzani van Zyl (WPI BME BS ’17, MEng ’19) is a PhD student in the Functional Biomaterials (Coburn) Lab.  In addition to serving as an advocate for international students and women in STEM, she helped establish GROW: Graduate Organization for Womxn in STEM through a grant from the WPI Women’s Impact Network (WIN). She has worked with the Belmont School in Worcester, and helped support the NSF REU program. Elzani has won several awards for leadership and academic excellence at WPI, published a first author paper and patent application in 2019, and has presented at conferences (podium talk at BMES 2019 and a rapid fire presentation at the Society for Biomaterials 2020) on her PhD research project.

Katelyn Mistretta (BS from RPI ’16) joined our PhD program in 2018 and is currently a member of the Functional Biomaterials (Coburn ) Lab. She has co-authored five publications, and received the Society for Biomaterials 2022 Tissue Engineering Student Poster competition Award.  She has been consistently engaged in outreach to increase participation in engineering, both within WPI and the broader the Worcester community, most recently working with 5th graders at the Belmont School in Worcester.   

The committee received several strong applications, and recommended two Honorable Mention Awards, made possible through generous support from the Christopher Sotak Memorial Fund.

Sotak Inclusive Excellence Awards:

Bryanna Samolyk (BS from UConn, ’20) joined our PhD program in 2020 and has enthusiastically engaged with the community since day one. This includes working as a WRAMP program mentor, the Belmont school in Worcester, assisting with the Frontiers program, and advocating for inclusion, diversity, and representation for all within the WPI community.

Rozanne Mungai (BS from MIT, ’17) joined our PhD program in 2019. The committee was impressed by her long-lasting commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, which included outreach activities as early as 2015.  Since joining WPI she has been involved in Introduce a Girl to Engineering and Engineers on the Go.