Collinsville, Illinois – May 12, 2023 – Nineteen ninety-eight Collinsville High School graduate Dr. Sarah Stabenfeldt will be honored as the 2023 Alumni Achievement Award recipient during the school’s 142nd commencement on Saturday, May 13, 2023, in Fletcher Gymnasium.
Stabenfeldt will receive the honor and address the Class of 2023 during the commencement ceremony. The event will be livestreamed on the Tomahawk Studios YouTube channel.
Dr. Sarah Stabenfeldt is an Associate Professor and Associate Director of the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering at Arizona State University. Following her 1998 graduation from Collinsville High School, Stabenfeldt earned a B.S. in biomedical engineering from Saint Louis University. Next, she pursued graduate school at the Georgia Institute of Technology to earn her PhD in bioengineering.
In 2011, she joined ASU to build a biomedical research program. Her work spans nanoparticle delivery strategies for traumatic brain injury to developing novel biomarkers for TBI to neural regenerative medicine. Dr. Stabenfeldt’s research is funded by federal, state and private foundation/clinical sources.
Dr. Stabenfeldt has received a number of prestigious awards including National Institute of Health Director’s New Innovator Award, National Science Foundation CAREER Award and Arizona Biomedical Research Centre Early-Stage Investigator Award. In 2022, her achievements were recognized by being elected as a Fellow of American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering; this organization represents the top 2% of medical and biological engineers, including the most accomplished medical and biological engineers in academia, industry, education, clinical practice and government.
Stabenfeldt fondly remembers growing up in Collinsville and her early days at Summit Elementary School. She recalls playing with neighborhood friends as they went exploring, riding bikes and swimming. She enjoyed swimming at Gaslight and Town & Country clubs; teaching swimming at CMT YMCA and Gaslight; as well as working as a lifeguard at Gaslight.
Like many who have called Collinsville home, she reminisces about birthday cakes from Kruta Bakery.
Dr. Stabenfeldt attended North Junior High where she played basketball. At CHS, she was a member of the girls basketball and swim club teams, National Honor Society, Spanish Club, Mu Alpha Theta and Monogram Club.
Her favorite high school classes were chemistry, physics, physiology and math/calculus. She says several CHS teachers made an impact on her: Mrs. Contratto (chemistry), Mrs. Grindler (physics), Mrs. Brueggeman (calculus) and Mr. Adams (mythology).
Positive experiences at CHS inspired her career choice. “Support from high school teachers in STEM provided confidence to pursue biomedical engineering at Saint Louis University,” says Dr. Stabenfeldt, “Then once at SLU, the mentorship and support of the BME faculty provided the space for me to grow and explore biomedical research as a career path.”
Stabenfeldt says the most rewarding aspects of biomedical engineering and research are “the potential to contribute to understanding and solving complex problems; and the collaboration with colleagues and trainees to pursue research questions that have not yet been asked.”
“If I can contribute one piece of the bigger puzzle, inspire future researchers, and break down barriers to create more inclusive STEM learning environments,” she says, “I will have accomplished more than I set out to achieve in my career.”
Outside her professional endeavors, Dr. Stabenfeldt likes to spend time swimming, camping, hiking and pursuing outdoor adventures with her husband, Richard, and six-year-old son, Graham.
“We love adventures, exploring and traveling together. Graham has been to at least five different countries already!” she says.
While her family grew up in Collinsville, today only an aunt, uncle and one cousin remain. “We grew up together in Collinsville, but now everyone is scattered across the country.” Stabenfeldt says, “We are still very close, and plan vacations and holidays together.”
Dr. Stabenfeldt says her advice to the Class of 2023 is to “Remain true to yourself while discovering your likes and dislikes in the world. Be curious. Be kind to yourself and others. And while you are discovering and exploring, find those folks that support your aspirations – don’t take directions from those that do not know where you are going.”
She adds: “I am humbled and honored to receive this recognition. I look forward to going to work each day at Arizona State University. I could never have imagined that I would have accomplished as much as I have so far in life, yet, I see it as just me pursuing my passions and interests in life.”