Each year, the BE Department awards one exemplary citizen the Biological Engineering Award for Excellence. The Award for Excellence requires a citizen to contribute to the department in multiple ways and go above and beyond the normal expectations of students or alumni. Ryan Putman became the fourth recipient of this award, in recognition of his dedication to the program and the biological engineering community at large.
Ryan has represented USUS on the national and international scale. At the IBE 2013 conference, he was elected to serve as the National Undergraduate Representative for 2013; here at USU, he is the IBE student chapter president. Ryan also presented in three different sessions at IBE 2013, more than any other student in attendance. He won Grand prize for best poster and his bioethics essay was one of the top five in the country. In the local community, he has kept USU IBEW, also the largest IBE student chapter in the nation, busy with various service activities. He says of his position, "As the Undergraduate Councilor, my job is to represent the current and future student members of IBE. This includes retaining and increasing our overall student membership, facilitating collaboration between IBE student chapters, helping to make the IBE Annual Conference as beneficial and enjoyable as possible for students, creating new awards and recognitions for students, among other more administrative duties."
As part of his Undergraduate Representative duties, Ryan, Asif Rahman (the IBE Graduate councilor), and Dr. Sims traveled to Lexington, Kentucky for IBE's mid-year council meeting. There, they and the rest of the IBE council met to plan the 2014 Annual Conference. They also had the opportunity to tour the conference venue and improve certain aspects of IBE, from the Journal of Biological Engineering to BE outreach to the nation's youth.
For the past two years, Ryan's involvement and leadership with Utah State's iGEM team has resulted in multiple awards. Following the major win of Best Manufacturing Project at iGEM 2012, he wanted to continue on with the project and build on previous success, so it was back to the lab with Asif Raman and Dr. Miller. Perpetually positive, he never shies away from taking the lead in the lab or with presentations, and serves as a mentor for younger students. The dedication Ryan shows through department programs directly carries over to being a thorough undergraduate researcher. Undaunted by staying late and coming in on weekends to work in the lab, Ryan jokingly quips that, "[He] will work for food!" His work ethic and willingness to serve in whatever way he can motivates everyone he works with.
Ryan was awarded an Undergraduate Research & Creative Opportunities (URCO) grant for his hard work and persistence. He had the opportunity to present at the Utah Conference of Undergraduate Research and was the selected to present his research at the National Council of Undergraduate Research in La Crosse, Wisconsin.
During the awards ceremony, Dr. Sims mentioned that every student is regarded as an ambassador Ryan exceeds the role; in Dr. Sims' words, "He is our 'Super Citizen' in his involvement with students and faculty in research and outreach activates, and in teaching students. He truly puts into practice the phase 'learn and lead' with his colleagues." In addition, Dr. Sims made note of Ryan's quick sense of humor, "a trait required for working with faculty!"
Incredibly humble, Ryan spoke of his appreciation for all the support that he has received. "I would say that I am a product of my environment rather than my environment being a product of me," he said upon acceptance of his award. Utah State is proud to have a student like Ryan with this degree of dedication and superior citizenship.