Faculty Spotlight: Forrest Kievit


About Forrest Kievit: 

I was born and raised in Olympia, Washington and grew up fishing from the beach on Puget Sound, backpacking in the Olympic Mountains, water skiing and playing various other sports. I earned my bachelor’s degree in bioengineering and Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at the University of Washington in Seattle. I then completed my postdoctoral training in the Neurological Surgery Department at the University of Washington and subsequently joined the faculty in the department as a research assistant professor.

What is your position at UNL? 

I am an assistant professor and bioengineer in the Department of Biological Systems Engineering. I find myself surrounded by a fantastically diverse expertise of faculty, from hydrology and agronomy to test and biomedical engineering. My research focuses on better understanding the interaction between nanomaterials and the diseased brain including brain cancer and brain injury, and using this knowledge to develop nanoparticle-based delivery vehicles to improve treatment. I am excited to begin teaching courses in thermodynamics and medical imaging.

What drew you to UNL? 

The truly supportive and collaborative culture at UNL was quite apparent upon first visiting with faculty, students and staff on campus. Then hearing about the resources available to new and established faculty solidified the university’s vision in fostering success. I believe it is this environment that allows the University of Nebraska to maintain excellence in teaching while continuing to conduct high-quality, timely research. This balance is what drew me to UNL.

What aspect of working in an educational setting do you enjoy the most? 

I love the opportunity to help students along their path towards their career goals both in the classroom and in lab to give them the knowledge and skills needed to succeed. It is quite rewarding to work with students who share the same interests and excitement as me, and be able to combine their training with making real research progress.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?

Breaking my ankle while snowboarding. Yes, this is a strange thing to consider an achievement, but it is what started me down the path that brought me to UNL. Prior to starting at the University of Washington, I spent a season as a cook at a mountain top restaurant at a ski resort, then a couple of years working for AmeriCorps doing habitat restoration and trail building in state and federally owned land. This experience led to a job with the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife to perform wildlife surveys in remote regions in the state. However, the weekend before starting the position, I broke my ankle on a ski trip so would be unable to successfully get to any of these locations. This led to me starting college, sparking my interest in biomedical engineering, which has continued to grow through to today.

What is something that most people don't know about you?

I was trained in wildland firefighting. One of the opportunities we had in AmeriCorps was to get our Red Card in case we were needed to help with wildfires on federal land. It was amazing feeling the power produced by the water pump through the hose, and was absolutely grueling building a fireline and then tediously looking for hot spots during our training fire.

What is your life like outside of work?

Outside of work you can find me spending time with my wife, Erin, and our 4-year-old son, Huxley, playing with all his favorite “things that go” and exploring the various family activities in Lincoln. I also enjoy backpacking and mountain climbing, and hope to one day get back into brewing beer.

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