Team Members


Executive Team


Brent Nowak, Ph.D., Executive Director

Brent_Nowak

Office: (616) 331-6843

Email: [email protected]

Dr. Brent M. Nowak, PhD is the founding Executive Director of the applied Medical Device Institute at Grand Valley State University.  aMDI is a non-academic unit of the College of Engineering and Computing that provides doctoral-level, multi-disciplinary engineering analysis, design, fabrication, and testing of emerging medical devices and science at the pace of industry, while serving a broad range of clients from the healthcare to medical device manufacturing industries.

Over the last 30 years, Dr. Nowak has led product and technology development programs spanning ideation through commercialization; field use and application in areas including robotic systems, autonomous underwater vehicles and medical devices; and entrepreneurial ventures in formation, pre-seed, and seed stages that have been successfully transitioned to industry. 

His career has been a balance between academia and industry, as Dr. Nowak proudly works in the “applied” research domain where almost 90% of his work today is in industrial, military, or commercial use. A number of his developments have been in the medical device arena, and have resulted in eight patents; several of these developments are in active licensing negotiations, resulting in the incubation of a new medical device company, OrthoForge.  Dr. Nowak is a successful founder, CEO, and/or principal of numerous life sciences and medical device start-ups. 

Prior to his position at Grand Valley State University, Dr. Nowak was the founding Director of the Robotics and Intelligent Machines laboratory at the University of Texas at San Antonio; was the Assistant Director of the Manufacturing Systems Department at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI); and a US Space Shuttle Flight Controller at the Johnson Space Center.  Dr. Nowak has been a returning Research Fellow at the US Army Institute of Surgical Research/Fort Sam Houston and at the US Naval Undersea Warfare Center – Newport, Rhode Island for four years.

John Hall, Principal Engineer and Project Manager

John Hall, Principal Engineer and Project Manager

Office:  (616) 331-5751

Email:  [email protected]

John Hall is a principal engineer and project manager at the applied Medical Device Institute (aMDI) within the Padnos College of Engineering and Computing at Grand Valley State University.  John has developed creative solutions in a wide variety of clinical areas throughout his career.  His efforts have resulted in 18 issued US patents and more pending patents.  With his previous R&D experience in medical devices companies and at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, he has developed a strong talent to translate clinical needs into technical design requirements and innovative design solutions.  Developing simple solutions to complex problems is an underlying theme for his innovative process.  John’s career has included successful medical device development and product launches within startup companies to large multinational corporations.

John is a voting member of the ASTM Committee F42 on Additive Manufacturing Technologies. He is also active in his church, plays hockey several times a week and enjoys hiking, camping, and fishing.

“I’m excited to join Grand Valley State University and mentor students in medical device innovation, design and product development.  aMDI provides a great opportunity for companies and inventors push their technology forward with the talent and resources available at GVSU.”

Jasmine Yonkers, Adjunct Administrative Professional

Photo of Jasmine Yonkers

Jasmine is the administrator for aMDI. She is also an undergraduate student at Grand Valley. Here at aMDI Jasmine does admin work ranging from budget, website updates, meeting coordinating, social media posting, etc. She joined aMDI in September 2022, and is excited to be apart of the team.

In her free time Jasmine enjoys reading, running, and hanging out with family and friends.


Faculty Associates


Wael A. Mokhtar, Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Wael Mokhtar is the Director of the School of Engineering at GVSU. His educational background consists of a B.S. Department of Mechanical Engineering, Alexandria University, 1994;  a M.S. Department of Mechanical Engineering, Alexandria University, 2001 and a Ph.D. Department of Aerospace Engineering, Old Dominion University, 2006

Dr. Mokhtar’s research is in the areas of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD). He worked in several experimental and numerical projects in cardiovascular system. He worked in developing biomedical training tools such as blood flow phantoms. His research in the area of Bio-Fluid Mechanics focuses on using CFD tools to simulation blood flow. He studied several cardiovascular diseases such as carotid artery stenosis.

Samhita Rhodes, Ph.D., Electrical & Biomedical Engineering

Dr. Samhita Rhodes is the Assistant Director for the School of Engineering as well as the Chair for the Biomedical Program. Her educational background consists of a  B.E., Electronics and Telecommunication Engineering, University of Pune, 1994;  a M.S., Biomedical Engineering, Marquette University, 1997;  and a Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, Marquette University, 2003 and a Postdoctoral Anesthesiology Research, Medical College of Wisconsin, 2007

Dr. Rhodes is the Chair of the Biomedical Engineering Committee at Grand Valley State University. In 2007, Dr. Rhodes received an NSF grant ($700,000) to establish the Master’s program in Biomedical Engineering at GVSU. Her current research interests are in the area of Biomedical Image Processing and Signal Processing.  She collaborates with Dr. Anthony Chang at the Van Andel Institute to improved automated image processing techniques for the detection of tumors in small animal models.  She is also working with neurosurgeons at Spectrum Health in the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit to accurately model the behavior of localization-related epilepsy, and extract information regarding network relationships between recording sites during ictal, pre-ictal, inter-ictal, and post-ictal periods. Dr. Rhodes maintains an active interest in using advanced signal processing techniques to study mechanisms affecting the initiation of cardiac dysthymias for which she was the recipient of an American Heart Association Scientist Development Grant from the National Center. Dr. Rhodes also holds a joint appointment as an Adjunct Research Faculty member at the Medical College of Wisconsin, where she collaborates in research with Dr. David Stowe.

 

John Farris, Ph.D., Product Design & Manufacturing Engineering

Dr. John Farris education background consists of a B.S., Mechanical Engineering, Lehigh University, 1987;  a M.S., Mechanical Engineering, Lehigh University, 1993 and a Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, University of Rhode Island, 1998

Dr. Farris focuses on medical device design. He works in an ongoing collaboration with the Lincoln Developmental Center, a Grand Rapids public school serving approximately 120 severely impaired students, and Mobility Opportunities Via Education/Experience (MOVE). Through this collaboration, they have developed the prototype for a lean-activated wheelchair that responds to the user’s upper-body deflection as it improves trunk strength. Full-time graduate students in GVSU’s Biomedical Engineering program are playing a key part in getting this wheelchair to production as they work with Dr. Farris to improve its design as they participate in translational research.

Wendy Reffeor, Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering

reffeorw@gvsu.edu

Dr. Reffeor is Professor and Chair of Mechanical Engineering in the School of Engineering at Grand Valley State University.  After starting her career in the aerospace industry, she has focused her teaching on industry-led, project-based learning.  She has supervised over twenty-five Master’s projects/theses, over twenty-five industry sponsored senior design projects, and over twenty sponsor-driven projects in her machine design course.  She is an expert in engineering mechanics, machine design, finite element analysis, and mechanical testing; performing research and teaching in these areas.

 

Lisa K. Kenyon, Ph.D., Physical Therapy

Dr. Lisa K. Kenyon is a professor, pediatric physical therapist, and researcher in the Department of Physical Therapy and Athletic Training. Her educational background consists of a B.S. in Physical Therapy from the University of Vermont, 1987; a M.H.S. in Pediatric Neurological Physical Therapy from the University of Indianapolis in 1998; a Ph.D. in Physical Therapy from Nova Southeastern University in 2010; and a Clinical DPT from Nova Southeastern University in 2014.

 

Dr. Kenyon heads the Grand Valley Wheeled Mobility Project; an inter-professional research and service project providing power mobility and manual wheelchair skills training for children and adolescents. She presents internationally on topics related to pediatric seating and wheeled mobility practice and has published numerous peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters pertaining to topics in pediatrics.  She currently serves on the Editorial Committee for the Wheelchair Skills Program and on the Pediatric Specialty Council of the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties. She has received research funding from institutions such as the NIH, American Academy of Cerebral Palsy and Developmental Medicine, and the Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy.


Lab Engineers


Cara Franke, Biomedical Engineer

Photo of Cara Franke

Cara is an undergraduate student at Grand Valley, pursuing a degree in Biomedical Engineering. She also hopes to receive her master's in engineering from Grand Valley. At aMDI Cara has been a part of 3D printing projects, she learned how to do 3D additive manufacturing during her first co-op at aMDI. Through her project work at aMDI Cara has become a more well – rounded engineer. She is interested in researching bioprinting and would love starting a bioprinting program here at GVSU.

In her free time Cara enjoys cooking, waterskiing, and working out.

Renzo Garza Motta, Electrical Engineer

Photo of Renzo

Renzo is an undergraduate student at Grand Valley, pursuing a degree in Electrical Engineering. At aMDI Renzo has worked on many projects ranging from product documentation to design. As a lab engineer, he can apply his skills in a variety of ways. Currently, he is working on developing a platform to view and interact with live biofeedback without the need of external components. Renzo will be graduating next year from the engineering program and hopes to pursue a career in embedded systems design and application.

In his free time Renzo enjoys learning how to do new things within engineering, watching movies, playing video games, and playing games with his friends.

Matthew Hartwell

Photo of Matthew Hartwell

Matthew is a combined B.S.E/M.S.E student at Grand Valley. He is a graduate assistant at aMDI. After he graduates next year Matthew would like to go into industry at a biomedical engineering firm, it is his dream to research and design at a company like Stryker. At aMDI Matthew has worked on a few significant projects from validation, testing, and documentation of existing products. He has also worked on dealt with rapid designing and prototyping for a new pap smear device. Matthew feels that aMDI offers work experience that allows him to broaden his understanding of medical device projects.

In his free time Matthew spends his time hanging out with friends, listening to podcasts, or playing guitar.

Co Nguyen, Mechanical Engineer

Photo of Co Nguyen

Co is an undergraduate student at Grand Valley, pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering. She also hopes to get her master’s in engineering with the combined program. After graduating she would like to take some time to visit her family in Vietnam, and then pursue a career in product design and development and or anything with 3D additive manufacturing. Here at aMDI, Co has worked with a lot of small companies to do rapid prototyping using the 3D printer to test their ideas. She has also been working on a confidential project with a company since she began at aMDI, doing design and development of a medical device.

In her free time Co likes to travel with her friends, try new foods, and play video games.

Katie Tellier, Lab Assistant

Photo of Katie Tellier

Katie is an undergraduate student at Michigan State University, pursuing a medical degree. Here at aMDI she is a biomedical engineering student intern. Since she is pursuing a medical degree, she serves as the researcher for many of the projects here at aMDI. One project that Katie has been working on at aMDI, that s still in its premature phase, is a device that would interpret hands signing ASL into verbal language sentences.

In her free time Katie can be found at the gym, cooking extravagant healthy meals, and/or with her family and friends.



Page last modified November 2, 2022