Michael W. Berns came to UCI in 1973 and held appointments in many schools including The Henry Samueli School of Engineering. Professor Berns co-founded the Beckman Laser Institute and Medical Clinic and founded the first Laser Microbeam Program and the UCI Photonics Incubator. In 1998, he co-founded the UCI Center for Biomedical Engineering (BME) which became a department in 2002 in the Samueli School.
As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the BME department, the idea of creating an endowment to support undergraduate students in memory of Berns' name was simple. Not only will his legacy live on through enriching student lives in the BME department, but it will also provide funding for our engineering students to excel academically and to maximize their abilities to impact society significantly and boldly in the Samueli School of Engineering and Beckman Laser Institute.
Berns was instrumental in pursuing the formation of UCI’s BME department. “Since a great deal of his work was in engineering and there was no bioengineering department at UCI, Michael, together with Bruce Tromberg and Steve George, had a vision to create one,” wrote Zoran Nenadic, current chair of the department. “In 1998, they applied to the Whitaker Foundation Development Award, which was responsible for seeding many bioengineering/biomedical engineering departments nationwide. While easily the least developed program at the time, this group of enthusiasts shocked the BME world by winning the award. Michael, who was the principal investigator on the proposal, and the research infrastructure that he had built at the BLI were instrumental in persuading the reviewers.”
Known around the BME department as the biomedical laser pioneer, Berns has touched the lives of countless friends and professional colleagues around the world.
In the unlikely event that the minimum for establishing a named endowed fund, currently $50,000, is not met by November 4, 2027, all funds raised in this campaign will go toward establishing an unnamed, endowed fund in support of the same purpose. In the unlikely event that the minimum for establishing an unnamed endowed fund, currently $25,000, is not met by November 4, 2027, all funds raised in this campaign will be used to provide current-use support for the same purpose.