The annual Outstanding Young Alumni awards program was established in 2006 to recognize alumni under the age of 40 whose achievements positively reflect The Gator Nation. 40 Under 40 will continue the tradition of honoring Gators who are reflecting leadership and innovation in their communities and professions.
Criteria for the competitive award include making a significant impact on the candidate’s industry and having civic or professional accomplishments at the state, national or international level.
Congratulations to Dr. Ivana Parker!
Dr. Ivana Parker is an Assistant Professor in the J Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering. Her lab at the University of Florida explores questions at the intersection of global health, immunology, and women’ s health and aims to identify novel therapeutic targets for inflammatory syndromes that increase HIV risk. Before coming to UF, Dr. Parker was awarded a Fulbright to the University of Cape Town in South Africa, where she investigated how BCG, a commonly used TB vaccine increases maternal to child transmission of HIV.
For her postdoctoral work, Dr. Parker received an ASM/CDC postdoctoral fellowship in Infectious Disease Microbiology and Public Health. At the CDC, she evaluated the impact of HIV prevention techniques on diagnostic assay accuracy and identified trends to optimize assay design. Dr. Parker received her PhD in Bioengineering from Georgia Tech, and she received numerous awards while there, including the NSF graduate research fellowship and was selected as an NIH Cell and Tissue Engineering Trainee. She also received a Whitaker Grant to develop artificial aortic valves in Cape Town, South Africa and facilitated set-up of a lab in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Dr. Parker earned her BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Florida in 2009. While at UF she was very active in STEP-UP as a mentor/tutor and in NSBE as PCI chair.
Dr. Parker has three children and is very well supported by her spouse Jon Parker, which made it possible to dually pursue dreams of family and career.
Congratulations to BME alum, Dr. Michael Fenn!
Michael Fenn is currently Head of External Innovation at Dewpoint Therapeutics, where he leads search & evaluation of new technologies & assets, and as a member of the corporate development team focusing on partnerships, competitive intelligence and strategy. Michael is also part of the investment team at Iaso Ventures, helping source deals, leading diligence for making investment decisions, and stress testing new company concepts for innovative biotech startups. He is particularly passionate about bridging the gap between academic research and company creation, having worked extensively at this interface of business and science. Michael brings with him broad experience in technology translation, basic & applied research, business strategy, and multi-disciplinary scientific expertise. Previously, Michael was Director of Healthcare & Life Sciences at Harvard Innovation Labs where he served as a pillar of Harvard’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, overseeing startup incubation and advising Harvard-affiliated founders. Michael also co-led planning of Life Lab Longwood, a new translational biotech incubator at Harvard Medical School and part of the $200M Blavatnik Therapeutics Initiative. He maintains a part-time appointment at Harvard as an ilab Innovation Fellow. Michael was formerly an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Florida Institute of Technology where his lab focused on the bio-nano interface with applications in drug delivery, biosensing, and regenerative medicine. He successfully oversaw the spinout of two companies from his lab, including a YC-backed, ML-driven diagnostic startup that was later acquired. Michael received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, M.S. in Materials Science & Engineering, and B.S. in Chemistry/Biochemistry, all from the University of Florida.