Fellowship lights up grad students’ futures

Two graduate students are awarded the Jon M. Meese Fellowship.

Published on Show Me Mizzou April 20, 2022

Ferris Dweik portrait

Engineering doctoral student Ferris Dweik explores the intersection of technology and biology. Photo by Rob Hill.

As a Columbia high school student interning in an MU College of Engineering laboratory, Ferris Dweik got an early start researching how biosensors could detect E. coli in meat samples. Seven years later, his fascination with biosensing and fluorescent imaging burns even brighter. When not playing a pickup game of soccer with friends, he is still exploring the interface of technology and biologic processes in an engineering lab as he works toward a doctorate in biomedical engineering.

After completing his degree, Dweik, BS BME ’19, can see himself as a professor and administrator, creating new diagnostic tools and medications. “Medical biosensing and diagnostics is an undeveloped field with a lot of room for engineering growth,” he says. Now that Dweik has received the Jon M. Meese/Applied Optoelectronics, Inc. Graduate Fellowship for the 2021–22 academic year, he is one step closer to achieving those career dreams. Dweik not only appreciates the financial assistance but also sees the award as validation. “It’s a recognition that I’ve been able to do good work in my field so far and should consider pursuing it further,” he says.

Alumnus Thompson Lin, MS EE ’90, PhD ’93, founder and CEO of Applied Optoelectronics Inc, established the fellowship, renaming it in 2021 to honor his former professor, Jon M. Meese. Each year, the fellowship goes to two graduate students — one in biomedical engineering and one in electrical engineering and computer science. Elliott Leinauer, BS EE ’21, a second-year doctoral student, won this year’s other fellowship. Focusing his research on biosensors, Leinauer aims to develop sensors that can control prostheses and detect biomarkers of various cancers. “The ideal case is to develop a novel sensor, patent it and commercialize it,” he says. To learn more about supporting students with scholarships, contact the Engineering Advancement Office at 573-884-3426 or email umcengrdev@missouri.edu.

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