By Matthew Chin

Daniel T. Kamei, associate professor of bioengineering, has received a UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award for 2015. The award, first handed out in 1961, recognizes extraordinary teachers who have made a significant impact on their students through classroom teaching and curriculum development.

Kamei, also the vice chair of the department, teaches upper-division classes in bioengineering fundamentals, biotransport and bioreaction processes, and engineering principles for drug delivery.

For Kamei, who attended public schools in his hometown of Monterey Park and received his bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley, teaching has been a way of giving back to the state’s public education system.

“The students I teach at UCLA and those I see during my outreach activities remind me of myself and my friends, as many come from similar socioeconomic backgrounds,” Kamei said. “To educate and inspire these students is a responsibility that I do not take lightly, and I have been thoroughly committed to providing an enriching educational experience for these students.”

In lectures, problem sets and exams, Kamei uses many real-world applications as examples. He also keeps an active and engaging classroom, often peppering students with questions to encourage them to think on their feet.

“He has a gift of unraveling a very complicated concept in a clear and logical manner,” said Edward Pham ’14, a former student and undergraduate researcher for Kamei who’s now in Stanford University’s M.D./Ph.D. program.

“His classes really focus on solving problems, and therefore they even included practical tools that I still use today to conduct my own research project.”

In 2007, Kamei received UCLA Engineering’s Northrop Grumman Excellence in Teaching Award and was named Professor of the Year by the Engineering Society for the University of California (ESUC) at UCLA. Kamei received his B.S. from UC Berkeley and his Ph.D. from MIT, both in chemical engineering. He joined the UCLA Bioengineering Department in 2003, following a post-doctoral fellowship in biological engineering at MIT.

“In a department that demands excellence and celebrates extraordinary achievements, this news has generated the most congratulatory comments I have seen,” said Dr. Ben Wu, professor and chair of the Bioengineering Department. “Personally, I feel incredibly fortunate to be working with someone as special as Dan.”

Noting his admiration for past awardees, Kamei said he is honored to be recognized for his teaching and mentorship and thanked his students, staff and colleagues.

Kamei and other recipients of the 2015 distinguished teaching awards will be honored in fall quarter at UCLA’s annual Andrea L. Rich Night to Honor Teaching ceremony. Kamei was one of six UCLA Academic Senate faculty members to receive the honor this year. Selected by the senate’s committee on teaching, winners receive an honorarium of $6,000.

Main Image: Professor Daniel Kamei explains how contact angle of a liquid droplet depends on surface and interfacial properties to his bioengineering fundamentals class during Winter Quarter 2015. Photo by Matthew Chin.