Alumni Awards 2017: Kafui Dzirasa ’01, M8, Chemical Engineering

In the weeks leading up to the Alumni Awards Ceremony, we’ll be profiling each honoree in more detail here on our blog. Today, meet Kafui Dzirasa ’01, M8, chemical engineering, associate professor at the Duke University School of Medicine and this year’s Outstanding Alumnus in Engineering and Information Technology.


As an associate professor of psychiatry, behavioral science, neurobiology, and neurosurgery at the Duke University School of Medicine, Kafui Dzirasa ’01, M8, chemical engineering, has dedicated his career to creating a kind of “pacemaker for the brain,” a device that can effectively rewire neurological signals in patients with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other illnesses. His research has earned him, among other accolades, the 2013 Sidney R. Baer Prize for Innovative and Promising Schizophrenia Research, as well as a 2016 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest award given to young scientists by the U.S. government. According to Dalton Hughes ’14, M21, chemical engineering, now an M.D./Ph.D. student working in Dzirasa’s lab at Duke, he is not only “a powerhouse in the fields of engineering, neuroscience, and medicine,” but a “phenomenal research mentor, captivating speaker, compassionate physician, and exceptional educator.”

“[Dr. Dzirasa’s] demonstrated commitment to UMBC and its students is truly special,” writes Keith Harmon, director of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program, “is truly special, and an inspiring example of a selfless spirit determined to ‘pay forward’ all that was poured into him at UMBC.”

Join us for the Alumni Awards Ceremony on Thursday, October 5!

Dr. Dzirasa will also be giving a Grit-X Talk on Saturday, October 14…sign up to reserve your seat today!

Roundup: UMBC in the News

One of the things that makes UMBC great is how wonderful our alumni, students, faculty, and staff are. Because of these amazing people, UMBC often finds itself “in the news,” so each week, we’ll be sharing with you a round-up of the most newsworthy achievements from our community.

Read more at UMBC Insights!

Roundup: UMBC in the News

One of the things that makes UMBC great is how wonderful our alumni, students, faculty, and staff are. Because of these amazing people, UMBC often finds itself “in the news,” so each week, we’ll be sharing with you a round-up of the most newsworthy achievements from our community.

Meet the Newest Alums: Haverkamp, Hughes, and Linville

UMBC is always full of hard-working people who aspire to do great things, and the class of 2014 is no exception. Today, we wanted to share with you what some of our recent graduates are planning to do with their Retriever education.

Tabitha Haverkamp, information
quickly made her mark at
UMBC by Haverkamp2014-6847_mod co-founding UMBC’s Industry Certification Training Group and and serving on the executive board of the Information Systems Council of Majors. She also completed undergraduate research in geographic information systems, was a member of the Center for Women in Technology (CWIT), and won the 2014 Student Leadership Award from the Department of Information Systems. Haverkamp now plans to work with the Department of Defense.

Linville2014-7060_modAfter only being enrolled for a year in the Language, Literacy, and Culture program, Heather Linville, Ph.D. language, literacy, and culture, was offered a faculty position at American University. She has taught English teachers in Indonesia, Mexico, and Panama through working abroad. In addition to her Ph.D., Linville has also earned a master’s degree in instructional systems design at UMBC. She was chosen as an English Language Specialist for the U.S. State Department plans to continue her work there while working towards a tenure-track faculty position.

Hughes2014-6837_modA Meyerhoff Scholar, Janice Antoine Lumpkin Scholar, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scholar, and a MARC U*Star Scholar, Dalton Hughes, chemical engineering, has earned many Undergraduate Research Awards. Hughes has also worked in leadership in UMBC’s Engineers Without Borders to attempt to create sources of clean water for a community in Isongo, Kenya. He also spoke about his experiences at UMBC at the U.S. News Stem Solutions conference, and now plans to earn his M.D./Ph.D. at Duke University.

Read more about the Class of 2014!

Meet our Newest Alums: Bradley, Snowberger, Jacobs, and Keniston

Bradley2014-6860_modFor many, working at NASA while in school is a dream. Damon Bradley, Ph.D. electrical engineering, worked as the lead computer engineer in the Instrument Electronics Development Branch at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

He also founded the National Society of Black Engineers (Greenbelt Space Chapter) and the Digital Signal Processing Technology Group at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Now, with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, he will continue his work as Lead Computer Engineer at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

Snowberger2014-7135_modAs an undergrad, Sebastian Snowberger, chemical engineering, earned two Undergraduate Research Dissemination Awards to talk about his findings at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and received an Undergraduate Research Award. A member of the honors college, Snowberger plans to pursue a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Notre Dame.

Jacobs2014-0188_modBefore graduating with Ph.D. in statistics, Justin Jacobs earned the highest honor given to the intelligence community in the early stages of their career, the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (PECASE).

In addition to working for the Department of Defense as a research mathematician and the U.S. Census Bureau as a mathematical statistician, Jacobs received numerous awards recognizing his efforts. He now plans to continue his work as a research mathematician at the Department of Defense and would like to begin teaching.

Charlotte Keniston, M.F.A. imaging
and digital arts,
already has plenty of Keniston2014-7141_modexperience in her field. A recipient of the Rockvilla F.E.A.S.T. Artist award and a visual arts instructor for the UMBC SUCCESS Program, she has hosted workshops with over 300 participants “to explore how personal food stories relate to the food system and social change.” Keniston is a finalist for the Fulbright National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship. If selected, she plans to spend the next year in Mexico City working with people with disabilities and using digital art tools to tell their story.

Meet more of the class of 2014!

Highways to Healing: Omolola Eniola-Adefeso ’99, chem eng

Once upon a time, Omolola Eniola-Adefeso ’99, chemical engineering, was on track to attend medical school. But she became a chemical engineer instead – so she could better attack problems such as her number one target: heart disease.

Eniola-Adefeso, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at the University of Michigan, investigates radical ways of delivering medicine that could prove efficient and effective than current practice. And she may succeed because she is thinks like an engineer – and not a doctor. Eniola-Adefeso came to Maryland from her native Nigeria the age of 16. She began her studies at Catonsville Community College, before transferring to UMBC, where she met the late Janice Lumpkin, an African-American chemical engineering professor. Lumpkin not only guided her student into a field where her passion for technology and medicine could intersect, but also helped her become a member of the first class of UMBC students in the Minority Access to Research Careers program.

After graduating from UMBC, she took a doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania in 2004. Her scholarship for graduate studies there was actually named after Lumpkin – who also attended Penn and died tragically after childbirth in 1997.

In 2006, Eniola-Adefeso (pronounced ah-DAY-feso and known to everyone as “Lola”) joined the faculty at Michigan where her lab seeks ways to create and use miniscule synthetic pellets to mimic white blood cells and deliver medicine more efficiently.

Read the full story in the Fall 2011 issue of UMBC Magazine.

Read more about UMBC alumni at Retriever Net, UMBC’s alumni online community.


Bioengineering and Blitzing: Brooke Coley ’03

Brooke Coley ’03, chemical engineering, remembers it as a dream play for a football defense.  Two defenders burst through the offensive line just moments after the snap, trapping the quarterback in the backfield. One defender tackles the quarterback, allowing the second defender to zero in on the ball and yank it loose…

Read more in the Winter 2010 issue of UMBC Magazine