Alumni and Award Recipients



Dr. Christopher Mahoney

Dr. Mahoney started as an excited and eager participant in the 2013 Pre-PhD Program offered by the Engineering Office of Diversity at the Swanson School of Engineering. During Dr. Mahoney’s time at the University of Pittsburgh, he was first author for three out of five publications total. He was awarded the Wes Pickard fellowship for his exceptional academic progress, and he was selected as a trainee for the University’s T32 CATER Fellowship Program. During his 4th year in Bioengineering program, Dr. Mahoney was awarded the prestigious NIH F31 Predoctoral Fellowship to support himself and his research studying soft tissue restoration.
Dr. Mahoney was a PITT STRIVE Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering. He is a postdoctoral fellow with Johnson & Johnson at the Advanced Process Control division, studying the bioreactor environments using spectroscopy techniques.



Dr. Natalie Austin

Dr. Natalie Austin received her Bachelors in Chemical Engineering from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. As an undergraduate student she performed research in three different research institutes (NIST, Georgia Tech, and Rutgers). She was the first graduate student to join the Mpourmpakis lab in the Chemical Engineering Department, at the University of Pittsburgh, in December 2013. Her PhD focused on CO2 activation and chemical conversion on metal nanoparticles. Natalie is a great example of a student that pushed the boundaries of excellence due to her motivation, hard work and critical thinking.
She received the James Coull Memorial Fellowship Award for outstanding PhD student and the Outstanding Research Assistant award in the ChE department in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Most notably, she was selected as one of four Chemical Engineering students across the country to represent the United States in a meeting with the Nobel Laureates in Chemistry in Lindau, Germany in 2017. She published 10 research articles, three of which have been highlighted as journal covers.
Dr. Austin was a PITT STRIVE Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering. She continues her career at Covestro as an engineer.



Dr. Katarina Knight

Dr. Katrina Knight came to the University of Pittsburgh to pursue her PhD after finishing a BS with honors at Claflin University in Biochemistry. For her graduate studies, she took an interest in biomechanics and women’s health related research while working under Dr. Steven Abramowitch. She was immediately awarded the K. Leroy Irvis and George M. Bevier Fellowships through our Swanson School of Engineering, which were followed by a fellowship in a competitive National Institutes of Health T32 training program on Biomechanics in Regenerative Medicine and the highly prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. For her graduate research, Dr. Knight was keenly focused on identifying and developing a medical device solution for women suffering from pelvic organ prolapse. Dr. Knight first presented work on her new technology at the national clinical meeting for urogynecology (American Urogynecologic Society Annual Meeting) in the fall of 2016. She won the award for Best Technology/Novel Therapies paper and was co-author on the Best Overall Paper. She has published nine peer reviewed publications, one book chapter, and more than 14 conference papers.
Dr. Katrina Knight came to the University of Pittsburgh to pursue her PhD after finishing a BS with honors at Claflin University in Biochemistry. For her graduate studies, she took an interest in biomechanics and women’s health related research while working under Dr. Steven Abramowitch. She was immediately awarded the K. Leroy Irvis and George M. Bevier Fellowships through our Swanson School of Engineering, which were followed by a fellowship in a competitive National Institutes of Health T32 training program on Biomechanics in Regenerative Medicine and the highly prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. For her graduate research, Dr. Knight was keenly focused on identifying and developing a medical device solution for women suffering from pelvic organ prolapse. Dr. Knight first presented work on her new technology at the national clinical meeting for urogynecology (American Urogynecologic Society Annual Meeting) in the fall of 2016. She won the award for Best Technology/Novel Therapies paper and was co-author on the Best Overall Paper. She has published nine peer reviewed publications, one book chapter, and more than 14 conference papers.



Dr. Jonquil Mau

Dr. Jonquil R. Mau is a graduate of Georgia Institute of Technology (2010), North Carolina A&T State University (2012), and the University of Pittsburgh (2017), where she conducted her graduate research at the world-renowned Musculoskeletal Research Center under the mentorship of Dr. Savio L-Y. Woo. While at the MSRC, Dr. Mau worked on multi-disciplinary teams of bioengineers, medical doctors, and business experts on the development of several medical devices for the regeneration of musculoskeletal soft tissues. As a result of her research productivity, she has co-authored several publications. Also, Dr. Mau has received a number of awards including Coulter Translational Partners Programs II research funding, NIH T32 Biomechanics in Regenerative Medicine (BiRM) training fellowship, NIH T32 Cellular Approaches for Tissue Engineering and Regenerations (CATER) training fellowship, to name a few. As Dr. Mau has been involved with many initiatives to commercialize the research innovations of the MSRC, she co-authored a number of patent applications and developed an interest in the regulatory pathway of medical devices. Currently, Dr. Mau works as an engineer at Regulatory & Quality Solutions, LLC, a consulting firm that guides medical devices companies on how to get and keep their products on the market.



Dr. Hervens Jeannis

Dr. Hervens Jeannis earned his doctorate from the Rehabilitation Science and Technology program at the University of Pittsburgh this past February. His work on barriers and facilitators in science and engineering laboratory spaces is an important contribution to increasing inclusion for people with physical disabilities who are interested in STEM fields.
Dr. Jeannis is a first-generation college graduate and the son of Haitian immigrants. Dr. Jeannis came to the Human Engineering Research Laboratories from the University of Maryland - Baltimore County, where he received his Master’s degree in Systems Engineering, and Syracuse University, where he received his bachelor’s degree in computer engineering and was a member of the African American Male Congress and the National Society of Black Engineers.
At the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, Dr. Jeannis worked on the Strongarm, a robotic arm attached to a power wheelchair that is able to easily transfer a person from the chair to a commode, bed, or other chair. Following this, he began his current work on researching factors that prevent or encourage students with physical disabilities working in laboratories – the subject of his dissertation and several papers currently in review with a peer-reviewed journal. Dr. Jeannis currently works with Boeing.



Dr. Sossena Wood

Dr. Sossena Wood is a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow within the Biomedical Engineering department at Carnegie Mellon University. She will further her research experience in neuroimaging while under the guidance of Professor Jana Kainerstorfer. Dr. Wood is focused on developing and designing medical devices that detect neurological damage and/or diseases, and Professor Kainerstorfer is a leader in noninvasive optics imaging that monitors disease. At the end of her fellowship, Sossena intends to become a tenure-track research faculty member. Sossena completed her Ph.D. Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh under the guidance of Professor Tamer S. Ibrahim and was a K. Leroy Irvis and National GEM Consortium Fellow. She has a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering.
Her dissertation work was featured in more than eight peer-reviewed journal articles, 32 international abstracts, and five international talks.
Dr. Wood is one of the University of Pittsburgh’s Rising African American Leaders awardee, National Institutes of Health (NIH) F31 awardee, New Pittsburgh Courier’s FAB 40 awardee, NSBE’s 2017 Mike Shinn Distinguished Member of the Year (Female) Awardee, and Professional Women’s Network awardee. Sossena served two-terms as the National Chairperson of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) as well as other leadership roles within the organization. While committed to advancing neurological health, Sossena is also committed to engaging and empowering underrepresented youth to pursue STEM degrees locally and globally.