Maha Alafeef receives college award for outstanding research achievement


Huan Song

Maha Alafeef with dean Rashid Bashir
Maha Alafeef with dean Rashid Bashir

Bioengineering Ph.D. candidate Maha Alafeef has been selected by The Grainger College of Engineering to be the 2022 recipient of the Ross J. Martin Award for outstanding research achievement by a graduate student. Professor Ross Martin served as a member of the faculty of the College of Engineering for 40 years, the last 26 of which he served as Associate Dean and Director of the Engineering Experiment Station. He was an extraordinary person, dedicated to the highest standards of achievement for the members of Grainger Engineering. 

This award, which includes a monetary prize, was presented to Alafeef at The Grainger College of Engineering Faculty Awards Ceremony held on Monday, April 25, 2022 at the Campus Instructional Facility. 

“I would like to express my gratitude to my department and the Bioengineering Awards Committee for nominating me and the Grainger College of Engineering for awarding me such a prestigious award. Further, I would like to thank my incredible advisor professor Dipanjan Pan, for his endless support. I am really fortunate to be his student. Last but not the least, this recognition would never be possible without my family's support.” she said. 

Since joining the department in 2018 for her graduate program, Alafeef has been an exceptional student, researcher and innovator - particularly for her work on co-developing a rapid, ultrasensitive technologies for the diagnosis of COVID-19. She was honored with the prestigious Illinois Innovation Prize in 2021 for her efforts during the pandemic. The test that she developed has far-reaching applications due to its portability and low costs and it can be adapted for the detection of many different diseases. Most recently, she took home second place at the SFB 2022 Business Plan Competition held during the Society of Biomaterials (SFB) 2022 Annual Meeting. Her presentation was titled, "SepSENSE, A Nanomaterial-Based Sensing Platform for the Rapid and Accurate Sepsis Diagnosis". 

Alafeef was also awarded the McGinnis Medical Innovation Graduate Student Fellowship in 2021, which recognizes excellence in graduate student research and offers support to students in the department of bioengineering. The McGinnis Fellowship is made possible by a generous gift from Illinois alumnus Jerry McGinnis (BS Mechanical Engineering 1958), an inventor and founder of Respironics, which made the first continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea in the mid-1980s. Purchased by Royal Philips Electronics in 2008, the Pittsburgh-based company—Philips Respironics—is a global leader in sleep and respiratory medical device markets. 

Alafeef has been recognized as a rising star in biomedical engineering through the 2020 Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Career Development Award. She has published many papers in major international journals and conferences including ACS Nano, Biosensors and Bioelectronics, Neural Computing and Applications, to name a few.  She exemplifies the spirit of science and scholarship at The Grainger College of Engineering.