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Alumnus wins fellowship, will work on prosthesis project in Guatemala

6/13/2012 | Madeline Ley, News Bureau Intern | 217-333-1085;

[ Email | Share ] CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A recent University of Illinois graduate has received a Whitaker International Fellow Grant to fund overseas bioengineering research during the 2012-13 academic year.

Jonathan Naber, of Waterloo, Ill., will utilize the fellowship in Guatemala to conduct a long-term trial of a low cost, below-elbow prosthesis he developed through his non-profit organization, Illini Prosthetic Technologies. Naber earned his bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering in 2011.

“Jonathan Naber is a persistent, creative individual who will use the fellowship to better serve a marginalized population,” said David Schug, a co-director of the U. of I. National and International Scholarships Program, which promotes and advises Illinois students applying for nationally competitive awards. Naber is the third Whitaker recipient from Illinois in the past seven years.

The goal of the Whitaker Program is to assist in the development of professional leaders who are outstanding engineers and scientists who will lead and serve the biomedical engineering profession with an international outlook.

Fellows may study at a university, conduct research, or work as an intern at a policy-making organization. Generally, fewer than 15 of these fellowships are awarded annually.

Naber will spend the next 12 months in Guatemala, continuing work he began in January to collect usage data from amputees using the prosthesis developed by Illini Prosthetic Technologies. He also will investigate options for making the device in Guatemala. His goal is to use the data to improve the prosthesis before potentially manufacturing and distributing it to amputees throughout Central America and, ultimately, the developing world.

Naber founded IPT while a sophomore at Illinois. He has spent time in Germany on high school exchanges and for summer school while in college. He has won numerous awards through the Illinois College of Engineering. Naber received the Lemelson-MIT Illinois student prize for being the most inventive student at Illinois, becoming the first undergraduate to receive this award. He also received the nationally competitive Simon Fellowship for Noble Purposes in 2011.

He credits his parents as the source of the values that led him to pursue his work.

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