DSA is pleased to recognize Elham Morshedzadeh, PhD, IDSA, assistant professor in the industrial design program at Virginia Tech, with a 2021 Young Educator Award. Since joining the faculty in 2017, and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Morshedzadeh has continuously impressed her colleagues and students, balancing an ambitious roster of sponsored programs with rigorous healthcare design research.

She is a leader of the new undergraduate biomedical engineering degree at VT, regularly collaborating with clinicians and engineers to create unique research opportunities and turn them into learning experiences for her students. Among her many academic contributions, she initiated a program for fourth-year studio projects and internship opportunities with Carilion Clinic and collaborated on a study funded by the National Institutes of Health to design a comprehensive telemedical encounter for infants and preschool children.

Dr. Morshedzadeh has worked with VT’s Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics (BEAM) department on several collaborative efforts, including a program with the Veteran Affairs Hospital in Salem, VA, that brought biomedical engineering and ID students together to conduct in-depth needs assessments.

As a result, “Biomedical engineering students have a deep respect for the complementary role of industrial designers, and actively seek out collaborations with ID students for new projects,” writes Christopher B. Arena, the collegiate associate professor and director of experiential learning at BEAM. “It is no surprise that Elham’s students frequently gain employment in the medical device industry, as they are already performing at a professional level prior to graduation.”

“I believe Elham does the difficult and complex work of ‘walking the walk’ to translate skills learned in undergraduate courses to marketable post-graduation skills,” writes Sarah E. Henrickson Parker, PhD, an associate professor and department chair of healthcare innovation and implementation science at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. “As IDSA continues to build their healthcare focus, young educators like Elham will be leading the way. She has learned to be polylingual, speaking the language of designers, engineers, and clinicians. She is teaching her students that same skill, creating the transdisciplinary workforce of tomorrow.”