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Although some faculty shy away from teaching large lecture-hall classes, they appeal to Ahmad (“Mo”) Khalil, a College of Engineering assistant professor of biomedical engineering.

“I like to teach the big undergrad classes,” says Khalil, who can be found leading ENG’s control systems in biomedical engineering and thermodynamics and statistical mechanics courses. “Undergrads are a lot of fun. If you bring energy to the big, undergrad core engineering courses and you keep them interactive instead of classic lecture-based, students respond really well.”

An expert in synthetic biology and antibiotic resistance, Khalil recently won a 2016 New Innovator Award sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a project that will focus on developing new, more rapid techniques for diagnosing antibiotic resistance to better manage and treat infections. Members of his lab use synthetic biology to understand cells’ molecular basis for solving computational and information-processing problems; they then use that information to create genetic programming languages that allow them to engineer cells for a range of therapeutic and diagnostic applications.

In the classroom, Khalil is renowned for infusing his lectures with energy by rewarding student participation. With a neon-green fanny pack stuffed with candy buckled around his waist (a gift from a student), he stands at the front of the lecture hall and lobs a piece of candy to any student who asks a question or offers a comment.

“Some of these lecture halls are pretty big, so I have to hit them with accuracy all the way across the hall,” he says. “A lot of times I miss and hit other people.”

Khalil joined the ENG faculty in 2012 (he came to BU in 2008 as a postdoc), and his enthusiasm and unconventional teaching methods have won him several teaching awards, including the biomedical engineering department’s teaching award—three times. Last year, he was named ENG’s Outstanding Professor of the Year.

In our series “Office Artifacts,BU Today highlights interesting artifacts professors display in their office. Have a suggestion about someone we should profile? Email orourkej@bu.edu.

Amy Laskowski

Amy Laskowski can be reached at amlaskow@bu.edu.

One Comment on Office Artifacts: Mo Khalil

  • Greg Page on 12.10.2016 at 4:11 pm

    Congrats on the awards, Mo! Great to see this story, but not a surprise at all.

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