The UCLA Samueli School of Engineering is proud to welcome two outstanding scholars to the Bioengineering Department — Mireille Kamariza and Jaimie Marie Stewart — who will join the school next year as assistant professors. Kamariza’s research focuses on low-cost health care diagnostics and Stewart’s research focuses on the development of programmable RNA materials.
“Professors Kamariza and Stewart are among the brightest scholars in their respective emerging fields, and we are very happy they’ll be joining us,” said Song Li, chair and a professor of the Bioengineering Department at UCLA Samueli. “Our students, fellow faculty, the UCLA community and society at large will benefit from their research, teaching and service.”
Their recruitment is part of the school’s Mentor Professor Program, an initiative now in its second year designed to hire faculty who are experts in their fields and who have a demonstrated record of, or who show exceptional promise for, mentorship of students from underrepresented and underserved populations.
Mireille Kamariza is a chemical biologist whose research focuses on infectious disease, including developing low-cost, point-of-care diagnostics. As a doctoral student at Stanford University, she developed a technology that helps to detect and diagnose tuberculosis at the point-of-care, for which she was awarded a Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant to test the device. Kamariza is currently a Harvard Junior Fellow working with well-known computational biologist Pardis Sabeti at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. She will join UCLA Samueli as an assistant professor of bioengineering in January 2023.
A native of the Republic of Burundi, Kamariza immigrated to the United States and attended San Diego Mesa College. She later transferred to UC San Diego for her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry, where she pioneered a mentorship program for transfer students. Kamariza has demonstrated her efforts in diversifying representation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through similar initiatives, and she intends to continue pushing for more equity and inclusion in scientific academia. She received her master’s degree from UC Berkeley and Ph.D. from Stanford University, both in cell biology. Among other accolades, Kamariza was recognized as one of the World’s Most Powerful Women by Fortune Magazine in 2017 and was named one of Chemical & Engineering News’ Talented 12 in 2020.
Jaimie Marie Stewart is developing RNA technologies for molecular detection and regenerative medicine. Her research focuses on understanding and exploiting the structural and functional complexity of RNA to build RNA materials using principles of biophysics, chemistry and engineering. She is currently a Life Sciences Research Foundation postdoctoral fellow at Caltech, where she works on the design, synthesis and characterization of DNA and RNA structures for the detection and separation of biomolecules. Stewart will join UCLA Samueli as an assistant professor of bioengineering in July 2023.
Stewart serves as the RNA Editor for the textbook Art of Molecular Programming and is a member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee for Caltech’s Division of Engineering and Applied Science. She has received several awards and honors, including the 2019 Ford Postdoctoral fellowship and recognition as a fellow by the Intersections Science Fellows Symposium in 2021. She received her B.S. in bioengineering with a concentration in cell and tissue engineering from the University of Illinois at Chicago and her Ph.D. in bioengineering from UC Riverside.