2021 Brahm Verma Award
With a background in chemistry, biology, and materials engineering, Sama Ghalei is committed to finding solutions to real-world problems – particularly health care-acquired infections. Her research, aimed at developing novel antimicrobial technologies that can be incorporated into medical devices, and her accomplishments in the classroom led to her selection as this year's recipient of the Brahm P. Verma Award for Academic and Leadership Excellence.
Established in honor of longtime UGA engineering faculty member Brahm Verma, the award recognizes an outstanding graduate student for excellence in academics and leadership. Recipients are selected based on a combination of their academic performance, their research, their activity in professional societies, and their demonstrated leadership abilities.
"I truly believe a genuine scholar is the one who has a clear vision of their research and sees the big picture," said Ghalei. "I have always tried to define and engage in projects that can provide solutions to real-world problems and benefit the society."
Since beginning her doctoral program at the UGA College of Engineering in 2018, Ghalei has published seven research articles in high-impact, peer-reviewed academic journals. She served as the first author on five of the studies. In addition, Ghalei's research has led to the filing of a U.S. patent application.
Ghalei was also the only student in the College of Engineering to receive the Graduate Education Advancement Board Fellowship in 2020, a prestigious fellowship granted to UGA students who have demonstrated exceptional academic and research effort. The same year, she also received an Innovative and Interdisciplinary Research Grant for Doctoral Students from UGA.
Ghalei earned her bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering from Amirkabir University of Technology, graduating with honors. She received her master's degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Tehran. Both schools are considered among the most prestigious in Iran. She is an active member of the American Chemical Society and the Biomedical Engineering Society.
"With the kind of motivation Sama has, she will, without a doubt, be one of the future leaders in the next generation of biomedical engineers," said Hitesh Handa, leader of the Handa Biomaterials Lab and Ghalei's major professor.