Owen MacKenzie Portrait

BME Grad Student Owen MacKenzie Achieves Big 10 Honors in Cross Country

Grad student makes mark in athletics

Congratulations to U-M BME graduate student Owen MacKenzie, who received All-Big Ten accolades in men’s cross-country on Wednesday, November 1. He and the U-M team are heading to Nationals in Charlottesville, Va., on November 18, following their third-place finish in the November 10 NCAA Great Lakes Regional. 

MacKenzie earned a second-team nod in his conference championships debut, posting a time of 24:36.9 to finish eighth. After finishing second overall in the B race at the Joe Piane Notre Dame Invite on Sept. 29, MacKenzie earned a spot on the Big Ten roster and finished second on the team.

“It’s been really exciting being a part of this team,” MacKenzie said. “Placing eighth in the Big 10 was a pretty good day for me. I was at Duke before this, and so this is my first time racing in the Big 10, as I was in the ACC before.” The November 18th meet will be MacKenzie’s first time competing at Nationals.

MacKenzie credits men’s cross-country team Coach Kevin Sullivan and his BME PI, Associate Professor Zhongming Liu, for supporting him in his athletic and scholarly endeavors. 

“Coach Sullivan was an Olympian–He represented Canada in the Olympic Games, and he was also a graduate of the University of Michigan and ran on the team here,” MacKenzie said. “I’ve really loved working with him because he knows so much about what it means to compete at this level. He has worked really well with me, and I have so much appreciation for our trainers and the facilities here that have managed to help me perform at the best that I ever have.”

When it comes to balancing graduate studies in BME with his athletic goals, MacKenzie said it would not be possible without support from his professors, PIs and everyone in the biomedical engineering department. “It really means a lot that so many people have been so supportive of me and understanding of what I’m trying to do athletically,” MacKenzie said. “My PI (Associate Professor Liu) is an amazing guy. He’s so proud of me, and that really means a lot. I’ve formed a really great connection with him, and he’s an amazing friend and mentor.”

MacKenzie said his lifelong dream was to attend Michigan and run for the team. “When I came in February for the grad school visit, I was really impressed by all of the faculty and how kind everyone was, and I could tell this was a really supportive environment,” he said. “To me–I guess with running as well as my academic work–I wanted to surround myself with people I could relate to and who I knew were supportive and friendly. I really got the sense of that from not just all of the professors, but everyone in the department, and all of my fellow BME students as well. We have a really close group, and it’s been great to make such good friends with all of them.” 

MacKenzie noted that his background–an electrical engineering and computer science double major, with a concentration in machine learning from Duke–led him to Dr. Liu’s lab, where he can apply his research skills in the biomedical engineering domain. “I’m very ambitious with what I want to do with my research, and I think that was best reflected within the goals of Michigan’s department,” MacKenzie said. “It’s one of the best biomedical engineering programs because of its great facilities, funding and capacity for innovative research. People here are not afraid to blaze ahead and develop new groundbreaking ideas. My ultimate goal after graduation would be to establish a startup company in this realm.”