UCLA Engineering 2023 Award Recipients
very year, the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering selects and recognizes outstanding achievements by a number of its alumni, faculty members and students who have excelled in various fields. Below are the profiles of the recipients of the 2023 Engineering Alumni Association Service Award and the V.M. Watanabe Excellence in Research Award.
Engineering Alumni Association Service Award
Marianne So, P.E., ’07, MBA ’17
Marianne So twice served as president of the UCLA Engineering Alumni Association (EAA) and has volunteered her industry expertise to enhance collaborations between the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering and its more than 40,000 alumni.
Elected by her fellow engineering alumni, So served two consecutive, two-year terms as president of EAA in 2018 and 2020, respectively. She spearheaded the association’s many programs in her second term during the height of the COVID pandemic, overseeing the alumni reunion committee and bringing Bruin engineers together virtually to positively impact the student experience amid the global health crisis. Prior to serving as president, So also served on the EAA board as vice president, secretary and chaired several program committees.
While she was an undergraduate mechanical engineering student, So became a key member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and was elected president in her senior year. It was in this role, where So demonstrated her skill in driving successful collaborations with industry.
After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, So worked in industry and obtained her engineering license in 2011 before receiving an MBA in 2017 from UCLA. She was a principal engineer at Honeywell and is now a mechanical engineer with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, where she works on the department’s system architecture for its treatment facilities, with a focus on pilot studies to evaluate new technologies.
In addition to her significant industry contributions, So has continued to connect with her alma mater as a guest lecturer for an undergraduate course and as an in-demand speaker at various UCLA events. She has also served as a mentor for the Women in Engineering at UCLA program’s Technical Leadership Academy and as a member on the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department’s Alumni Advisory Board and its Industrial Advisory Board.
V.M. Watanabe Excellence in Research Award
Assistant Professor of Bioengineering
A prominent researcher in the field of wearable bioelectronics, bioengineering assistant professor Jun Chen has already amassed more than 250 peer-reviewed journal publications, including 32 cover features.
Chen leads the Wearable Bioelectronics Research Group at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, focusing on nanotechnology and bioelectronics for energy, sensing and therapeutic applications in the form of smart textiles, wearables and body-area networks.
Among his many breakthrough technology advancements is a wearable glove that can translate American Sign Language into speech. More recently, Chen discovered the magnetoelastic effect in soft matter systems and unveiled a new class of human body-powered soft bioelectronics.
Chen has been named a Highly Cited Researcher by Clarivate Web of Science four years in a row. Selection to the global list is reserved for authors whose published studies rank in the top 1% in the number of scholarly citations.
In addition to his research, Chen developed three undergraduate and graduate courses he teaches on wearable bioelectronics, nanogenerators and bioelectronic devices design.
For his many contributions to the field, Chen has received many accolades including a Young Investigator Grant from the national nonprofit Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, a Young Investigator Award from the American Chemical Society’s Division of Polymeric Materials: Science and Engineering, the Materials Today Rising Star Award and the Advanced Materials Rising Star Award. He has been named a UCLA Hellman Fellow and a fellow of the International Association of Advanced Materials
Beyond research, Chen is an associate editor of Biosensors and Bioelectronics, Med-X and Textiles. He also serves on the advisory or editorial board of Matter, Cell Reports Physical Science, Nano-Micro Letters, Materials Today Energy, Nano Trends and The Innovation.
Chen joined the UCLA Samueli faculty in 2019, following a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University. He received a master’s in biological engineering from the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Georgia Tech.