Friday, May 6, 2016

Professor Rizk Receives Community Honor

Photo by Bluekrishna Photography

Biochemistry professor Shahir Rizk was recognized this afternoon at the Gillespie Conference Center by the Michiana Forty Under 40 program for his contribution and accomplishments in both the workplace and community.  One might claim that IU South Bend is where "it all" started for him: while much of the world was worrying about possible Y2K problems in 2000, Rizk was focused on graduating from IU South Bend with a B.S. in Biology and applying to graduate school.  But a more honest assessment must be that Rizk is one of those rare alumni who give back more than they have received.

Rizk chose to attend Duke Univeristy and obtained a Ph.D. in Biochemistry in 2006 for his thesis on rational design of biosensors and multi-sensor arrays.  Rizk then worked as a National Institutes of Health postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago in the field of antibody engineering and drug delivery for brain cancer research.  In 2012 he returned to the state of Indiana as a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Notre Dame where he engineered antibodies to study the pathogens that cause malaria and Ebola. He also served as Director of External Programs at the Boler-Parseghian Center for Rare and Neglected Diseases where he worked to connect rare disease patients within the community with healthcare professionals and researchers through outreach programs. There he remained until last fall semester when he joined our department and set up a research lab with undergraduate students just as easily and quickly as he delivered successful lecture and laboratory courses.  His scientific enthusiasm and interest in students makes them, in turn, interested in and enthusiastic for biochemistry.

As a musician and a published poet, Rizk has a deep interest in promoting the arts and art education in the Michiana area and proves himself as a Renaissance man of sorts. He is founding member and president of Ulreia, Inc, a local non-profit organization that has organized and supported several local productions in visual, musical, theatrical and literary arts.  Rizk is currently leading an initiative to showcase the integration of different forms of art with elements of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.  He can often be found at Langlab South Bend, a venue partner for Ultreia, Inc.

We are thrilled that Rizk was chosen this year to be among the forty young professionals honored in the Michiana area, but we are more thrilled that he has chosen to work with us at IU South Bend in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.  We hope that this award is icing on the cake of a wonderful academic year.  Congratulations!