Colburn, Smith Win Faculty Awards
By Mark Dwortzan
Professor H. Steven Colburn (BME) received the Distinguished Scholoar Award
Assistant Professor Michael L. Smith (BME, MSE) won the Early Career Research Excellence Award
College of Engineering Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs Selim Ünlü announced the recipient of the College’s Distinguished Scholar Award—Professor H. Steven Colburn (BME)—and the winner of the Early Career Research Excellence Award—Assistant Professor Michael L. Smith (BME, MSE)—at the ENG faculty meeting on December 14.
Distinguished Scholar Award
The annual Distinguished Scholar Award honors a faculty member engaged in outstanding, high-impact research, and provides the recipient with a public forum to discuss and showcase research before the Boston University academic community.
Colburn, founder and director of the BU Hearing Research Center, will present the lecture “Information Processing in the Binaural Auditory System” in March.
Colburn’s research exploits experimental data and mathematical modeling tools to gain deep understanding of the auditory system. Much of his work aims to develop an integrated representation of binaural interaction and its role in human sound perception, including the interpretation of acoustic cues in complex sound environments.
A Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America and the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, and recipient of the Acoustical Society of America Silver Medal and Javitz Neuroscience Award, Colburn has written widely in the past 40 years on challenges faced by the binaural system in complex acoustic environments, and on issues associated with hearing impairments and hearing aids, including cochlear implants.
“His body of work has had a profound influence on the criteria employed to define what it means to be a serious auditory scientist today,” said Solomon Eisenberg, professor and chair of the Biomedical Engineering Department.
A member of the College of Engineering faculty for more than 30 years and associate chair for undergraduate studies, Colburn chaired the Biomedical Engineering Department throughout the 1980s and was named BME Professor of the Year in 2002, 2006 and 2008.
Early Career Research Excellence Award
The annual Early Career Research Excellence Award celebrates the significant, recent and high-impact research accomplishments of tenure-track faculty less than 10 years removed from their Ph.D.
Since joining the College of Engineering in September, 2008, Michael Smith has been named Innovation Career Development Professor and received a Dean’s Catalyst Award in 2010 and the BME Professor of the Year Award in 2011. Author of 26 journal articles and cited more than 1,000 times in research literature, he is a member of the Center for Nanoscience and Nanobiotechnology and the Molecular Biology, Cell Biology & Biochemistry Program. He received his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Virginia in 2004.
Smith’s research explores how forces change the shape, or conformation, of proteins that cells use to interrogate their surroundings—fibrous proteins known as fibronectin that may ultimately be manipulated to grow desired stem cells or halt the spread of cancer. His main goal is to use advanced tools to investigate the impact of forces on these proteins at the nanoscale level. By uncovering protein conformations at sites perturbed by force in the local cellular environment and their impact on cell signaling, Smith aims to identify new drug targets and approaches to stem cell-based therapeutics for regenerative medicine and tissue engineering.
“Michael’s recent work on cell adhesion, fibronectin organization, and cell survival and function in 3D engineered microenvironments has attracted wide attention in the research community,” said Eisenberg.
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