School of Engineering Annual Awards

Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering

photo of Florenica Monge

Florencia Monge
Outstanding Graduate Student
Chemical and Biological Engineering

Florencia Monge came from Chihuahua, Mexico, with her parents, since then living in Albuquerque. She chose bioengineering because she liked the idea of integrating biology with engineering to help patient care and “meet the ever-growing needs of human health.” During her first year of graduate school, she worked as an education mentor and tutor for the UNM Upward Bound Program. After that, she has held a research assistantship with Eva Chi in the Center for Biomedical Engineering. She also participated in the spring 2018 NSF I-Corps entrepreneurial training program. She was a member of the Biophysical Society and participated in the UNM Health Hackathon hosted by UNM Health Sciences Clinical and Translational Science Center. Her hobbies include spending time with family and playing soccer. In July, Florencia will begin a new chapter, starting medical school at UNM.

photo of Irais Ortiz-Caraveo

Irais Ortiz-Caraveo
Outstanding Senior
Chemical and Biological Engineering

Irais Ortiz-Caraveo didn’t always know she wanted to be an engineer. The first-generation college student credits a teacher with giving her the spark. She explains: “The field of engineering was nonexistent to me until my high school math teacher, Mr. Lewis, shared that he and his father were both engineers. He was kind enough to explain the complexity of the field and did a darn good job at it. I don’t think he realized that he was opening a new world of possibilities for me, nor that I would follow in his father’s footsteps to become a chemical engineer.”

Irais, who is originally from Chihuahua, Mexico, but was raised in Albuquerque, has been involved a variety of activities as a student. She was a research assistant at the Comprehensive Cancer Center at the UNM School of Medicine Department of Pathology; a Spanish tutor with the Department of Spanish and Portuguese; and an undergraduate research assistant with the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, working with Sang Eon Han. Additionally, she was a second-place poster presentation winner at the 2020 STEM Symposium, participated in Cancer Research Day, was a member of the student chapter of the Biophysical Society, and was a member of the Hispanic Engineering and Science Organization (HESO). She also became a certified as a healthcare interpreter through the Certification Commission for Healthcare Interpreters this year.

Irais will be receiving departmental honors as she completes her honors thesis this semester. In addition to her engineering degree, she will also be earning a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish with a minor in chemistry.

She said she especially enjoyed collaborating with students and professors. “Meeting and collaborating with some of the most astounding individuals is something I’ll treasure forever,” she said.

Her hobbies include medical interpretation and remodeling projects. Her future plans are to work at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals in the summer and finish her master’s degree in biomedical engineering in December 2020. Her ultimate goal is to form part of team that engineers life-changing pharmaceuticals.

photo of David Jeffrey Arnot

David Jeffrey Arnot
Outstanding Junior
Chemical and Biological Engineering

David Arnot was born in Albuquerque and chose engineering because he always enjoyed math, physics and chemistry. He said engineering combines all three and applies them to the real world. Since January 2018, he has been working at Sandia National Laboratories. David was president of the student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers chapter this year and has been a mentor for the Honors College. One of his favorite memories at UNM was going to the 2019 AIChE National Conference in Miami and presenting research. When he has the time, David enjoys reading, studying finance, going to the gym, riding motorcycles and going backpacking. After he earns his undergraduate degree, he plans to get a Ph.D. in chemical engineering, focusing on researching energy technologies.

photo of Jessica Lien

Jessica Lien
Outstanding Sophomore
Chemical and Biological Engineering

Jessica Lien is from Albuquerque and is majoring in chemical engineering, with a bioengineering concentration and a math minor. She chose to study engineering because of its practical applications of chemistry, physics and math. She has been working in Dr. Eva Chi’s lab for almost a year, studying the cause and detection methods for neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Starting this summer, she will be working at Sandia National Laboratories remotely, modeling atmospheric changes due to global warming. After she graduates, she plans on pursuing a master’s degree in chemical engineering.


Mohammed Radha Al Khazraji
Outstanding Sophomore
Chemical and Biological Engineering

Mohammed Radha Al Khazraji is an international student from Sulaymaniyah, Iraq. He always knew he wanted to study in a STEM field and chose engineering because of its practicality. Although he says classes keep him pretty busy, he has been a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AICHE). His future plans include working in industry for a few years, then getting into a graduate program. He said so far in his UNM journey, receiving this award has been his favorite memory. When not studying, Mohammed enjoys video games, cooking and math.