Michael Kallos wants everyone to know engineering is awesome. In fact, over the past eight years, this professor of biomedical and chemical engineering at the University of Calgary has earned 10 teaching excellence awards – a sure sign he is effectively communicating his message.
“I try to inspire my students and get them interested in what they are studying,” says Kallos, whose enthusiasm resonates with both the faculty and students behind his nomination as a top teacher. “I have students coming up to me to say they remember lectures I gave to them three years ago.”
When he is not lecturing to undergraduate engineering students, Kallos is fulfilling his duties as the coordinator of the U of C’s biomedical engineering graduate program.
The high-profile program combines kinesiology and medicine with engineering principles to solve medical problems. Everything from designing pacemakers and running shoes to developing imaging techniques and growing stem cells fall into the emerging realm of biomedicine. Kallos lends a hand by helping students apply for grants, secure funding and plan experiments.
Also contributing to the U of C’s growing presence in biomedical engineering is Kallos’ own research using bioreactors – a high-tech gizmo that simulates the conditions of the human body – to grow and manipulate stem cells. These newly created stem cells can replace lost or damaged cells and help treat or cure any number of medical conditions from Parkinson’s and diabetes to musculoskeletal disorders.
“Stem cell treatment is closer to a long-term treatment than just a treatment of symptoms,” says Kallos, who emphasises the potential for this type of research to change the way medicine and healthcare is delivered.
As a stalwart advocate for his field, Kallos also gives presentations to high school students on potential careers in engineering and bio-medical research in Calgary. All of this will help contribute to what Kallos says is a growing critical mass of researchers in Calgary dedicated to the field.
“It’s a pretty cool job,” he says. “The research is changing all the time and has the potential to really help people.”
Why he’s the top: His students and peers have awarded him 10 teaching excellence awards, and his own research in stem cells is helping to develop cures for several degenerative diseases.
The key to his success: As a teacher, Kallos’ charm and enthusiasm makes it easy for students to pay attention. In research, his success comes from his drive to use stem cells to their fullest potential in solving health-related problems.