Amos named Woman of the Year by Central Illinois Business magazine

10/7/2018 Allen Xu, BioE communications intern

Written by Allen Xu, BioE communications intern

A transformative figure in the Bioengineering Department, Illinois faculty member Jenny Amos is the winner of the 2018 Woman of the Year Award, granted by Central Illinois Business Magazine’s Forty Under 40 awards. Amos is the first member of the Bioengineering department to win this coveted award.

The purpose of the award is to highlight the achievements of young business professionals under 40, taking into account achievement, experience, innovation, leadership, and community involvement. Of the 40 winners, two are chosen to become Man and Woman of the Year. Amos was chosen for Woman of the Year due to her contributions to the Bioengineering Department and the Carle-Illinois College of Medicine, her research in engineering education, and her efforts in engaging the community in STEM education.

Jenny Amos
Jenny Amos

 “Our department, our university, and our field of Bioengineering have been positively impacted through Dr. Amos's efforts in defining the discipline, developing ways to motivate students, and implementing quantitative and objective assessments of learning,” says Bioengineering Professor Brad Sutton, “During her time at Illinois, she has focused on creating truly integrated learning experiences leveraging a systems-engineering curriculum with real-world biomedical problems from clinical partners and industry.”

Indeed, Amos’s role in curriculum assessment and developing educational objectives in both Bioengineering and the College of Medicine cannot be overstated. As it stands today, much of the Bioengineering curriculum can be credited to Amos, who created 11 new classes and increased overall engineering hours from 39 to 58 by integrating biology and medicine into the engineering curriculum. Using this experience, Amos went on to become an instrumental part of the development of the new Carle-Illinois College of Medicine, creating a curriculum that teaches advanced physiology and medicine from an engineering perspective, as well as being a key figure in multiple committees in preparation for LCME medical school accreditation submission.

Amos is also known for community engagement through various STEM programs, such as Engineering Ambassadors at Illinois, which is part of a national effort to challenge students’ ideas about science and engineering, particularly in populations that have been historically marginalized in Illinois. EA students visit K-12 classrooms statewide, providing quality presentations and preparing activities tailored to that particular classroom.

Amos is the Principal Investigator on a grant for capacity building at Njala University in Sierra Leone, and has also led multiple summer camps, including the bioengineering GAMES camp, Discover BIOE, and Global Health Scholars. This passion for community service extends to her research, where she has explored the experiences of women of color in engineering.

“Jenny is an outstanding teacher and advisor of undergraduate students,” says Illinois Professor Emeritus Michael Hirschi, “She has driven the discussions of how engineering can be used to elucidate physiology, leveraging engineering fundamentals to change the way in which these topics are traditionally taught."

Amos came to Illionois in 2009 as a lecturer in the new Bioengineering Department after receiving her PhD in chemical engineering from the University of South Carolina. Since then she has served as the Director of Undergraduate Programs in Bioengineering, Senior Lecturer, and now serves as Director of Assessment and Evaluation and Quality Officer in the UI College of Medicine along with being a Teaching Associate Professor in Bioengineering.

Amos has received many awards, including an Education Innovation Fellowship from AEEE, a Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning Fellowship, the Distinguished Teacher Scholar award, the Rose Award for Teaching excellence, and others. In addition, she has been awarded over $3 million in grants supporting educational initiatives.

Summing up Amos's accomplishments, Hirschi said: “Jenny deserves this award because of her excellence in everything she does, her commitment to helping historically minoritized people to enter STEM fields, and her local, national, and international service to engineering and medical education."

Amos will receive the 2018 Woman of the Year Award on October 11, 2018, at a luncheon at the Hilton Garden Inn in Champaign. This is the 11th year for the 40 Under 40 Awards. 

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This story was published October 7, 2018.