Blavatnik Doctoral Fellows: 2020-2021 Cohort

Kelia Human, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Kelia Human is starting her PhD program in biomedical engineering at Columbia University as a Blavatnik Fellow. She is from Berkeley, CA and she graduated from Northwestern University with a degree in biomedical engineering. The faculty member she will be working with at Columbia is Professor Samuel Sia. Kelia is interested in flexible and small electronics for biomedical purposes such as sensing and diagnostic testing. She is specifically interested in the potential use of this technology in low resource settings and in underserved communities.

Farid Khoury, Department of Chemical Engineering

Farid Khoury is a Syrian immigrant who fled the war for a better future and education in the United States. He received a bachelor's of science degree and a master's of science degree in chemical engineering from Cleveland State University in 2019 and 2020, respectively. Farid believes in protecting the environment and making the earth a better place for future generations; for that reason, he has chosen to study biofuel production from green microalgae. Farid is proud to be a Columbia University Blavatnik Presidential Fellow and a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship. He will be attending Columbia University as a Ph.D. candidate in the chemical engineering department, and he plans to work on protein engineering projects in Dr. Scott Banta's laboratory.

Panagiotis Oikonomou, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Born and raised in Athens, Greece, Panagiotis Oikonomou is an incoming MS/PhD student in the Biomedical Engineering department. As an undergraduate at Columbia University, he worked on multiple research projects, including cancer therapeutics, microfluidic point-of-care devices as well as soft-tissue biomechanics and tendon repair. In his senior year, his capstone project team designed a wearable for the outpatient monitoring of seizures, using machine learning for the classification process. For his doctoral studies, he will be part of Professor Nandan Nerurkar’s group, the Morphogenesis and Developmental Biomechanics Lab, investigating how tissues and organs form in the developing embryo.

Shashwat Shukla, Department of Electrical Engineering

Shashwat Shukla graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, with a B.Tech and M.Tech in electrical engineering, along with a minor in computer science. He is interested in the application of Signal Processing and Biologically-plausible Machine Learning to theoretically and computationally model brain function. His past research focused on Spiking Neural Network models for bio-inspired navigation, inference and learning. Shashwat is joining the Bionet group in the Electrical Engineering Department at Columbia University to work with Professor Aurel Lazar on uncovering the functional logic of the fruit fly brain.

Chaoqun Zhou, Department of Mechanical Engineering

Chaoqun Zhou, earned her MS degree in mechanical engineering from Columbia Engineering in spring 2020. This fall, she will join the doctoral program in mechanical engineering. She is interested in delivering novel medical devices via micro/nanotechnology. She will continue to work with Professor Jeffrey W. Kysar on inner ear drug delivery by employing microfabricated ultra-sharp needles.