Graduate students awarded top honors from VCU Engineering for service, teaching and research

Graduate students are integral to VCU Engineering. They advance the College’s research objectives while also helping to educate our undergraduate students

Ram Gupta presenting to students and faculty at the GTA/GRA awards

The awards below recognize those who have exceeded expectations, going above and beyond to ensure their peers, students and the communities they reside in are well supported.

Congratulations to Jessanne Lichtenberg, Michael Dexheimer, Anne Katherine Brooks and Lucas Olson! We appreciate your hard work and commitment.

Outstanding Graduate Service Award

Jessanne Lichtenberg
Left to right: Gary Tepper, Ph.D., Jessanne Lichtenberg, and Ram Gupta, Ph.D.

Jessanne Lichtenberg from the Department of Biomedical Engineering received the Outstanding Graduate Service Award for her work in developing a new hands-on activity for paper microfluidics used at VCU Engineering’s “Explore and Tour” event. She is also the Richmond branch director of the Engineering Practice in Color program where she helps setup activities for students with learning disabilities at local high schools.

The Outstanding Graduate Service Award is presented to a graduate student who is active in giving back to the community.

Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award

Michael Dexheimer
Left to right: Gary Tepper, Ph.D., Michael Dexheimer, and Ram Gupta, Ph.D.

Michael Dexheimer from the Department of Biomedical Engineering received the Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award for his work teaching undergraduate courses for Statics and Mechanics of Materials and Biomedical Signal Processing. One professor stated that Dexheimer develops a strong rapport with students and always goes the extra mile to help them.

The Outstanding Graduate Teaching Award is presented to a graduate student who exemplifies what a teaching assistant should be: one who communicates complex topics effectively to students, is patient when working with students struggling to grasp course content, holds consistent office hours and goes above and beyond to help students. 

Outstanding Graduate Research Award

Anne Katherine Brooks from the Department of Chemical and Life Science Engineering and Lucas Olson from the Department of Biomedical Engineering received the Outstanding Graduate Research Award.

Anne Katherine Brooks
Left to right: Gary Tepper, Ph.D., Katherine Brooks, and Ram Gupta, Ph.D.

Brooks is passionate about research and has been extremely successful in publishing in top journals including Advanced Materials and has presented at many national and international conferences. She is described as being proactive in acquiring the diverse skill set needed to be successful in the field of applied biomaterials as well as being able to adapt and move forward with developing and executing ideas. Brooks’ work has led to exciting applications of biomaterials as reconfigurable substrates for regenerative orthopedic applications and electrically stimulating nerve repair.

Lucas Olson
Left to right: Gary Tepper, Ph.D., Lucas Olson, and Ram Gupta, Ph.D.

Olson serves as an exemplary role model for other students. He has seven publications, including three as first author, and has presented at twenty international conferences with six oral presentations. The research Olson has performed in advanced glycation end-products and their role in skeletal muscle aging and regeneration has resulted in a patent for a novel decellularized muscle matrix preparation protocol.

The Outstanding Graduate Research Award is presented to a graduate student who strives for excellence in research, shows leadership in the lab, mentors and acts as an example for undergraduate students in the lab.