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Jennifer Wagner: Building a Legacy

by Kahla Weber

Jennifer Wagner has been an Instructor in the Department of Bioengineering at CU Anschutz since July 2015 and has made tremendous contributions to the success of the bioengineering program.   Teaching a variety of courses, including Biodesign (Introduction and Capstone), the pinnacle of the BIOE program, Jennifer has not only helped her students become the creative, free-thinking learners they are now, but has also ensured their success as they move on to the subsequent stages of their careers.  It hasn’t been an easy road, however, Jennifer states “…the most challenging aspect of my time here has been learning to navigate the operational and organizational structures of academia.”  This challenged her to really work at her communication, relationship building, and diplomacy skills, and she did so with tact and grace.  Jennifer’s effectiveness as an Instructor and Covid Official within the BIOE department speak volumes to this and she thanks her mentor Dr. Robin Shandas for mentoring her through the unique environment that is the Anschutz Medical Campus.  

Jennifer Wagner is a true innovator when it comes to not only laying the foundation for the bioengineering program at CU Anschutz, but ensuring that it continues to flourish.  From her contributions to the core curriculum and her expertise in design, Jennifer also oversaw the design, programming and construction of Bioscience 2 and 3, as well as led the creation of the Bioinnovation Program, Design Club, and the Apprenticeship Program. 

The Bioinnovation Program grew out of a collaboration with Dr. Omid Jazaeri, Dr. Robin Shandas, and Jennifer and “with the help of Kate Hoch and Karen Gilbert, [they] developed a fee for service program allowing clinicians, private citizens and industry partners to engage with the department of bioengineering on a wide variety of projects from device design, development and testing, medical image processing and surgical modeling as well as surgical training systems.”  The program has been so successful and continues to grow, obtaining funding from companies such as Medtronic and Johnson & Johnson, among others.    

The Design Club was born out of the Junior Biodesign course to allow students to work on projects they are passionate about while the Apprenticeship Program, funded in part by the College of Engineering, Design and Computing, is a program that gives students the opportunity to work in a professional engineering environment.  The BIOE Apprenticeship Program originally focused on teamwork, professionalism and design documentation but, due to the pandemic, has evolved into a more project-oriented experience.  Jennifer is excited to watch it continue to grow and expand.   

Alongside her accomplishments as an Instructor and innovator are Jennifer’s personal achievements which include the PhD dissertation, titled LEFT VENTRICULAR SHAPE ANALYSIS ON PEDIATRIC PULMONARY HYPERTENSION, that she will be defending in November.  Jennifer has worked incredibly hard on this in her free time over the last decade and is “excited and proud to have something to show for [her] love of learning,” and we all stand behind her.   

Jennifer is leaving behind a legacy with the foundation and program she was instrumental in building for the Department of Bioengineering, and for all future students who have the opportunity to participate in this program.  The Founding Chair for the bioengineering program, Dr. Robin Shandas, expressed that Jennifer has been very instrumental in not only starting the bioengineering program but growing it as well, “she’s been my right-hand person in building the program; the program wouldn’t exist in its current form without her.”  The Assistance Vice Chancellor for Initiatives and Community Engagement at CU Anschutz, Neil Krauss, stated “She’s one of the best I’ve worked with here, and I’ll miss her…Her kindness is a gem.”  She will be greatly missed by the students, staff, and faculty in the bioengineering community at CU Anschutz and we wish her the best in the next phase of her career.        

You can read more about Jennifer Wagner here.  

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At the CU Denver College of Engineering, Design and Computing, we focus on providing our students with a comprehensive engineering education at the undergraduate, graduate and professional level. Faculty conduct research that spans our five disciplines of civil, electrical and mechanical engineering, bioengineering, and computer science and engineering. The college collaborates with industry from around the state; our laboratories and research opportunities give students the hands-on experience they need to excel in the professional world.

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