Achieving Excellence: SBME Award Winners (2021)

Innovation in healthcare is an ever-evolving journey. The paths for researchers, educators, care providers, and students are not without barriers and hurdles. Nonetheless, they press forward to address these challenges, identify needs in healthcare, and work tirelessly to bridge the gap between problems and solutions.

It’s time to once again celebrate some of the SBME innovators who made waves in the first half of 2021. Check out all their achievements below.


Laia Shpeller

J. Fred Muir Memorial Scholarship in Engineering/Science

Laia Shpeller was selected for this year’s J. Fred Muir Memorial Scholarship, which is endowed through a bequest in memory of J.F. Muir by Lillian Muir.

Laia is a fourth-year Biomedical Engineering student who is passionate about increasing healthcare accessibility in communities with limited resources and advocating for sustainable design within the biomedical field. She was the 2020-2021 Co-President of the Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Student Association (BMEUSA). Laia has also exemplified her leadership and well-roundedness through her role as the Engineering Undergraduate Society’s Council Director and Sustainability Chair. Laia recently finished an NSERC research term building a machine learning model to help with cognitive assessments for Alzheimer’s diagnosis. 

Laia is grateful for this scholarship and hopes to use it to propel her even further on her path to sustainable impact. “I am enthusiastic about using the momentum of receiving this award to continue advocating for actionable changes within UBC Engineering and SBME specifically. I want to use this as a stepping stone to develop devices which allow for remote healthcare and make it easier for patients to access the care they require. As well, I believe sustainability is often overlooked in the medical field, and I will make sustainability a key factor in all devices I design. I want sustainable design to be the norm in all biomedical design!”

Get to know Laia in episode two of the SBME Interfaces Podcast here.


Benjie McMaster

J.K. Zee Memorial Scholarship

The J.K. Zee Memorial Scholarship is endowed by friends and family in memory of J.K. Zee and awarded each year to a student in the Faculty of Applied Science on the recommendation of the Faculty.

Benjamin is a fourth year student in the UBC Biomedical Engineering program’s cellular bioengineering stream. He previously worked in Dr. Peter Zandstra’s lab developing computational models of spatial patterning in embryonic stem cell colonies. Currently, he is doing a Co-Op on the Molecular Simulations team at Zymeworks Inc. designing deep learning models to guide protein design. He hopes to pursue a PhD in biomedical engineering and combine his interests in computational biology and bioengineering.

“I’m honoured to be the recipient of a J.K. Zee Memorial scholarship this year,” McMaster tells SBME. “This award will go a long way to support my research and goal of developing new therapeutics that will have an impact on healthcare in Canada.”


Coralie Tcheune

Geyer Family Award in Biomedical Engineering

Coralie Tcheune, a third year Biomedical Engineering student, won the Geyer Family Award, an endowment established by Paul Geyer for Biomedical Engineering undergraduate students. Through her entrepreneurial spirit, interest in the local biomedical engineering industry, and leadership, Coralie earned the recommendation of the Faculty of Applied Sciences for this award.

Coralie has always been fascinated with all things robotics and developed a glaucoma-detecting AI for the Microsoft’s Discover AI Challenge, where her project placed in the Top 3 in the medical category. She also merges her leadership, entrepreneurship, and love for technology through her involvement as co-captain of UBC’s Biomedical Engineering Student Team (BEST), machine learning engineer at UBC Open Robotics, and an active member of the amateur novelist community.

“This generous award encourages me. My department recognizes and supports my accomplishments and obsession with revolutionizing medical robotics worldwide,” Coralie shares.


Emily Bliven | Cidnee Luu | Luke MacLean

2021 Friedman Award for Scholars in Health

Emily Bliven, Cidnee Luu, and Luke MacLean were three of sixteen graduate students and medical residents across the globe to be named a 2021 Friedman Award recipient.

Emily is a PhD student whose work focuses on computational modeling of femoral augmentation to prevent hip fracture in a sideways fall.

Cidnee is a MASc student whose work focuses on the development of a low-cost, high quality wearable system for measuring brain activity. Luke is a MDPhD student whose work focuses on the deformable guidance of spinal surgery bone cutting using ultrasound-augmented tools.


Vita Huang | Hailey Wang

MEng International Graduate Entrance Scholarship

Vita Huang and Hailey Wang are both incoming MEng international students who have been awarded this scholarship for their academic excellence and potential in research contributions. We look forward to seeing their work impact the biomedical engineering field.


Don Ta

CMBEC Outstanding Academic Researcher Award

Don was recognized for his paper, “Development of a Cardiac and Respiratory Phantom (CARP) for use in Radiosurgery Dosimetry,” in the Outstanding Research Competition portion of the Canadian Medical and Biological Engineering Society’s 44th CMBEC Conference.


Atishay Jay

MEng International Graduate Entrance Scholarship

Atishay was selected for the Faculty of Applied Science’s International Student Scholarship, which is offered to students who have demonstrated strong academic achievement, engagement, and their potential for meaningful contribution in their field of study.

Atishay is a 4th year Undergraduate student who specializes in Cellular Bioengineering. He certainly goes beyond the criteria for this scholarship; on top of earning a spot on the Dean’s Honour list, Atishay is an Academic Coordinator with the Biomedical Engineering Undergraduate Student Association (BMEUSA) and holds teaching assistantships in several BMEG Undergraduate courses.

This award is the latest in Jay’s achievements, as he has also received the Outstanding International Student (OIS) award and the WorkLearn International Undergraduate Research award (WLIURA) in recognition of his academic performance and work in SBME Director Dr. Peter Zandstra’s lab. Outside of his studies and research, Atishay Jay is an advocate of physical health and enjoys snowboarding, powerlifting, and long summer jogs.


Congratulations to all recipients. We are excited to see the growth, innovation, and leadership that you will continue to build across biomedical engineering and healthcare.