Danielle Benoit is Rochester's 'Young Engineer of the Year'
Danielle Benoit, recipient of the Young Engineer of the Year award from the Rochester Engineering Society, in her lab with PhD students Yuchen Wang and Maureen Newman. (Photos by J. Adam Fenster/University of Rochester).
Each year, Danielle Benoit leaves her Therapeutic Biomaterials Lab at the University of Rochester to host the Annual Benoit Laboratory Lemonade Stand at the Rochester and Brighton public markets.
Benoit and her students serve lemonade and explain their work on childhood cancer therapies as part of a national effort organized by Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, which has helped fund her research.
“Most people don’t realize that treating cancer in children is much different from treating cancer in adults,” says Benoit, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering. “At the same time, funding for childhood cancer research is woefully miniscule, compared to the money that goes into studying adult cancers.”
Benoit’s community outreach is one reason she is the recipient of the 2016 Young Engineer of the Year Award from the Rochester Engineering Society. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in and contributions to the profession by young engineers in the Rochester region and promotes the importance of engineering practice to society.
Benoit, who joined the University in 2010, is an international leader in developing therapeutic biomaterials with applications in bone and salivary gland regeneration and treating dental caries and childhood cancers.
“Her work is creative, and transformative,” says Diane Dalecki, chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering. “She is a true and creative engineer, applying principles of classical chemical engineering and materials science to new biomedical applications in medicine.”
This has resulted in numerous patents; several federal, state, foundation and industry grants – including a prestigious National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award -- and such professional awards as the 2015 Young Innovator Award in Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering.
Benoit also is “an outstanding educator, dedicated to training the next generation of engineers,” Dalecki says. Benoit teaches a core biomaterials course for undergraduates and courses in biomaterials and drug delivery for graduate students. She annually mentors students working on senior design projects and undergraduates who participate as Xerox fellows in a summer research program.
"Danielle is an outstanding faculty member, whose research in new biomaterials will have a large impact on therapeutics for a number of diseases and whose teaching and service demonstrate her dedication to the educational and outreach missions of the Hajim School," says Wendi Heinzelman, dean of the school.
Benoit's community outreach also includes inviting an elementary school class to her laboratory each year for a day of learning and hands-on experimentation. “Importantly, Dr. Benoit always involves her whole lab in these events, thereby instilling the importance of community outreach to the next generation of engineers in training,” Dalecki says.
Benoit demonstrates the properties of fluids to elementary school students visiting her lab.