CLEMSON – Clemson University bioengineering doctoral student Breanne Przestrzelski has received national recognition as an exceptional student who exercises leadership in teaching and learning with a strong commitment to academic and civic responsibility.

Breanne Przestrzelski

Breanne Przestrzelski

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) named Przestrzelski a recipient of the prestigious K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award. She is one of 10 winners chosen from more than 275 nominations from 137 institutions.

“Despite her young age, Breanne is a leading global scientist with a distinguished record of education, research and service accomplishments,” said Martine LaBerge, who chairs Clemson’s bioengineering department. “Through her sustained effort and dedication, Breanne has been an agent of change at Clemson and in the biomedical engineering community at large.”

Przestrzelski is a teaching assistant and co-instructor with the senior capstone biodesign class and a Ph.D. candidate in the Frank H. Stelling and C. Dayton Riddle Orthopaedic Education and Research Laboratory under the direction of her adviser, John DesJardins.

She has been named a University Innovation Fellow by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter), where she has served as a student leader, co-developer of programs and co-instructor internationally.

Przestrzelski advises student and faculty programs and initiatives on behalf of the dean as the innovation director for the College of Engineering and Science Student Advisory Board. In her own research, Przestrzelski was named Bioengineering Department Design Fellow, and her senior capstone design project resulted in a patent-pending and licensed technology, the Assurefit, a novel chest tube-stabilization device. The Assurefit won a $10,000 first-place award in the national NCIIA BEMStart competition.

In addition to pursuing her own research and interests, though, Przestrzelski has dedicated her time and energy to empowering others to make a difference as well. In 2013, she received the Austin T. Moore Award for her contribution to the establishment of the Design Discovery Program, which fosters interest in science and technology among high school students in Greenville through exposure to innovation in biomedical design.

More recently, Przestrzelski teamed up with DesJardins and Craig Kinley of e-Merge @ The Garage to offer the LemonADE Stand: Accelerating Design & Entrepreneurship, a Clemson-accredited program that inspires high school students to solve problems in their own communities.

As a University Innovation Fellow, Przestrzelski also co-founded the Design & Entrepreneurship Network, or DEN, with DesJardins. What started as an effort within her department to connect biodesign ideas to customers now has turned into a campus-wide program that pairs students with mentors who help them pursue their entrepreneurial and professional goals. The program was recognized at The White House in 2015 along with Clemson’s commitment to furthering entrepreneurship and innovation opportunities for its students.

“To see someone’s face light up as they discover a passion they never knew they had is what inspires me,” said Przestrzelski. “These passions are discovered by students and adults alike, and through this, we are helping equip people to be the lifelong learners, leaders of innovation and change agents that they can be.”

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), with 1,300 member institutions, is the leading national association concerned with the quality, vitality and public standing of undergraduate liberal education.