Three Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering alumni have been recognized by the university in this year’s “40 under 40” awards. These outstanding young alumni are rising leaders in their professions, positively representing The Gator Nation through their excellence, impact, and contribution in our community and on a global scale.
Michael Fenn (M.S. ’11, Ph.D. ’13)
Michael Fenn is currently Head of External Innovation at Dewpoint Therapeutics, where he leads search & evaluation of new technologies & assets, and as a member of the corporate development team focusing on partnerships, competitive intelligence and strategy. Michael is also part of the investment team at Iaso Ventures, helping source deals, leading diligence for making investment decisions, and stress testing new company concepts for innovative biotech startups. He is particularly passionate about bridging the gap between academic research and company creation, having worked extensively at this interface of business and science. Michael brings with him broad experience in technology translation, basic & applied research, business strategy, and multi-disciplinary scientific expertise. Previously, Michael was Director of Healthcare & Life Sciences at Harvard Innovation Labs where he served as a pillar of Harvard’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, overseeing startup incubation and advising Harvard-affiliated founders. Michael also co-led planning of Life Lab Longwood, a new translational biotech incubator at Harvard Medical School and part of the $200M Blavatnik Therapeutics Initiative. He maintains a part-time appointment at Harvard as an ilab Innovation Fellow. Michael was formerly an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Florida Institute of Technology where his lab focused on the bio-nano interface with applications in drug delivery, biosensing, and regenerative medicine. He successfully oversaw the spinout of two companies from his lab, including a YC-backed, ML-driven diagnostic startup that was later acquired. Michael received his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, M.S. in Materials Science & Engineering, and B.S. in Chemistry/Biochemistry, all from the University of Florida.
Ivana Parker (BSME ’09)
Dr. Ivana Parker is an Assistant Professor in the J Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering. Her lab at the University of Florida explores questions at the intersection of global health, immunology, and women’ s health and aims to identify novel therapeutic targets for inflammatory syndromes that increase HIV risk. Before coming to UF, Dr. Parker was awarded a Fulbright to the University of Cape Town in South Africa, where she investigated how BCG, a commonly used TB vaccine increases maternal to child transmission of HIV.
For her postdoctoral work, Dr. Parker received an ASM/CDC postdoctoral fellowship in Infectious Disease Microbiology and Public Health. At the CDC, she evaluated the impact of HIV prevention techniques on diagnostic assay accuracy and identified trends to optimize assay design. Dr. Parker received her PhD in Bioengineering from Georgia Tech, and she received numerous awards while there, including the NSF graduate research fellowship and was selected as an NIH Cell and Tissue Engineering Trainee. She also received a Whitaker Grant to develop artificial aortic valves in Cape Town, South Africa and facilitated set-up of a lab in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Dr. Parker earned her BS in mechanical engineering from the University of Florida in 2009. While at UF she was very active in STEP-UP as a mentor/tutor and in NSBE as PCI chair.
Dr. Parker has three children and is very well supported by her spouse Jon Parker, which made it possible to dually pursue dreams of family and career.
Michele Siminari (BSEN ’10)
Michele Siminari is a Profession Engineer, Class 1 Waterworks Operator, and the Production Manager providing her community of 2 million people with safe, reliable, and abundant drinking water. The Fairfax Water Corbalis Water Treatment Plant is rated to treat 225 million gallons per day and is the largest water treatment plant in Virginia. As the Production Manager, Michele is responsible for the
operations and maintenance of this state-of-the-art facility. Prior to being selected as the first female Production Manager at Fairfax Water, she was the Senior Plant Engineer of the facility for 6 years. Michele has been awarded the Fairfax Water Outstanding Service Award for going above and beyond to meet the organization’s mission.
Prior to her roles at Fairfax Water, Michele worked in water consulting. During her 7 years as a consultant she worked on a variety of water, wastewater, and stormwater projects. Most notably she served on the Program and Construction Management Team for a $400M greenfield water treatment plant, intake, and associated pipelines.
Michele serves the water industry through the American Water Works Association Virginia Section and Virginia Water Environment Association. She has held several leadership roles including serving as a WaterJAM Conference Co-Chair, Leadership Academy Chair, and VA AWWA Board Trustee. Michele Co-Chaired the WaterJAM Conference during the COVID pandemic. Leading a committee of 50 volunteers, the conference was held successfully to allow for water professionals in Virginia to safely learn and connect together. Michele was the first chair and founder of the VA AWWA/VWEA Leadership Academy. The Academy provides a year long leadership training program for Virginia water professionals to advance their leadership skills. Michele earned numerous awards including the Outstanding Young Professionals Award and Sherry L. Williams Leadership Award for her service to the water industry.
Michele graduated cum laude from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s in Environmental Engineering. She holds a Virginia Professional Engineering License and a Virginia Class 1 Waterworks Operators License.