Congrats, Knight Campus Graduates

June 2022

Congratulations, Knight Campus Graduates!

It’s got a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? It’s a phrase you’re going to be hearing more and more in the coming years as growing numbers of students graduate from our programs and go on to make an impact on society.

Earlier this week we hosted our first in-person celebration of graduates. We welcomed Knight Campus Graduate Internship Program graduates from 2019-2021 cohorts and an undergraduate from the Knight Campus Undergraduate Scholars 2021 cohort to the Knight Campus for an informal gathering. It was a chance to celebrate the accomplishments of our outstanding graduates and look forward to future opportunities.

This is a good time of year to celebrate the accomplishments of everyone in our community. People like David McNeely, a member of the first cohort of our Knight Campus Undergraduate Scholars program, who was recently accepted to four medical schools, including Stanford’s, which he will be attending in the Fall. And people like Dr. Lina Mancipe Castro, our first postdoctoral scholar to complete her program in our Center for Translational Biomedical Research, a local partnership with PeaceHealth that provides opportunities for scholars from underrepresented communities in STEM to work with advisors from UO and PeaceHealth on clinically relevant projects and receive professional development training to prepare them for their careers. Lina has landed a great job at a leading biotech firm in Atlanta where she will continue her work on research and clinical trials for osteoarthritis therapies.

I continue to be amazed by the incredible growth of our academic programs. Only about 18 months after opening our doors, this spring we had over 200 students taking classes and doing research in the Knight Campus. Our rapidly growing joint Bioengineering PhD Program with OSU will welcome its third cohort of students this fall with 12 incoming students for a total of 32 PhD students, hailing from top national and international institutions. 

Our Knight Campus Graduate Internship Program (KCGIP) has also grown in size and diversity. Nationally recognized for its innovative approach to graduate education designed to meet the technology needs of industry with an incredible 98% graduation rate, the most recent cohort had 160 trainees enrolled with over 50% of the students identifying with groups, including women, traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields.

Before diving into their technical coursework, KCGIP students will be able to access an array of valuable resources through Professional Development Week, which focuses on building community and cultivating strong professional relationships. The week’s offerings include a workshop on “Grit, Resilience and Perseverance” with Knight Campus External Advisory Board Chair Jeanne Beacham on June 16 and culminates with an opportunity to network with 40+ KCGIP master’s alumni who are making the trek to Eugene to meet the newest cohort.

Our employee numbers are also growing rapidly. Last fiscal year, we hired 75 new research, academic and administrative employees, and this coming year we are on track to hire an additional 60 more. We’re also hiring students, including 24 graduate employees with an additional 10 starting this week, 3 graduate lab rotations, 25 undergraduate employees or students working for credit, and 22 undergraduate volunteers all working in our faculty laboratories or our Knight Campus faculty affiliates.

And we welcome Assistant Professor Felix Deku who is busily equipping his neural engineering lab, engaging with students and hiring staff. A leading expert in microfabrication, Dr. Deku will be developing brain interfacing devices and technologies and will be a frequent user of our state-of-the-art cleanroom facility in the basement.

As the 2022 academic year ends, I want to congratulate all our community members on the progress we have made together this year and the incredibly positive attitude exhibited by all. Together, we can do great things. May you have a rejuvenating summer. I look forward to getting back together in the Fall.