New fellow stands among his heroes

Paul Mayne // Western NewsChemical and Biochemical Engineering professor Kibret Mequanint has been inducted into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering’s (AIMBE) College of Fellows for distinguished contributions in biomaterial design and the applications of biopolymers to medicine. He is one of just 18 Canadian engineers – and the first from Western – to be part of the U.S-based non-profit organization.

Kibret Mequanint now counts his heroes among his peers. And he could not be more excited.

The Chemical and Biochemical Engineering professor has been inducted into the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering’s (AIMBE) College of Fellows for distinguished contributions in biomaterial design and the applications of biopolymers to medicine. The honour is among the highest professional distinctions awarded to a medical and biological engineer, with just the top 2 per cent in the field honoured.

“Looking at some of the high-profile people who are part of this, it’s pretty much everyone I consider to be a role model,” said Mequanint, who was inducted last weekend in Washington, D.C. “I consider it fortunate to be recognized – it’s an elite group. To be part of this is great.”

Mequanint was one of four Canadians inducted among the 156 colleagues who make up the AIMBE College of Fellows Class of 2018. Since 1991, AIMBE has acted as “the authoritative voice and advocate for the value of medical and biological engineering by advancing the public understanding and accelerating medical and biological innovation.”

Mequanint, whose research encompasses the areas of polymeric biomaterials, tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, said the U.S.-based AIMBE plays a major role in putting advocacy initiatives into action on Capitol Hill.

“How that translates, for me, will be a learning environment to see how scientists actually push their agendas with their focus around policy,” he explained. “It’s about creating awareness of science as a whole, to politicians. I hope that’s something I will learn from and will help me to contextualize it within the Canadian landscape.”

“They put together the best minds in the field and use that, as an institution, to influence policy directions in research areas and bio-related research activities.”

Mequanint is one just 18 Canadian engineers – and the first from Western – to be part of 1,500-member organization.

AIMBE’s 110-member universities offer a biological and engineering sciences focus on developing and applying new knowledge in ways that benefit all – in fields ranging from medicine to agriculture and beyond. Its 16 scientific organizations in medical and biological engineering coordinate activities of member societies with the activities of academia, government, healthcare, industry and the public and private biomedical communities.

“These are people that I look up to. The fact I am now part of that group is an excellent thing,” said Mequanint.