Check back soon to learn more about our 2022 juror panel.

Judging of each year's MDEA competition is conducted by an impartial, multidisciplinary panel of expert jurors—comprised of clinicians, engineers, and designers—who carefully review all of the submissions, narrow them down to a select group of exceptional products in each category, and name one best-in-show product.

Our jurors' independence and impartiality is a leading reason for the industry-wide acceptance and success that the MDEA program has enjoyed. MDEA jurors—past and present—have set a high standard for judging excellence and fair competition.


2021 Jurors

Stacie Depner
Director of Engineering, Hydrafacial

Stacie Depner is known for her high impact approach to achieving breakthrough business results. After earning a BS in Mechanical Engineering, she began her career as a medical device engineer and quickly transitioned into management. She has more than 20 years of experience in cross-functional team leadership, Lean/Six Sigma in manufacturing, and product development.

Her work has created innovative solutions and turnaround of several companies. Her result-driven approach with executive teams to set their strategy, align their organization to the strategy, and coach cross-functional teams to identify dramatic changes in most vital areas of business has given her insight on best practices within medical industry management.

In her previous role as engineering program director at Symbient Product Development, Stacie led multi-disciplinary design and engineering teams, holding them to high standards of excellent user experience, integrated design and engineering, and focused design for manufacturing. Across the business, she was responsible for delighting clients, motivating employees, and assuring profitable business success. Depner joined Hydrafacial, an FDA registered manufacturer of advanced aesthetic technologies and products, as director of engineering in 2020.

Depner is into traditional hot rods and customs. As a matter of fact, she built a ’30 Model A Roadster from the ground up and has a ’60 Buick Invicta as well. In her spare time, she likes to take on custom paint and pinstriping projects.


Paul J. Fearis
Senior Lecturing Fellow, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Duke University

Paul Fearis joined Duke after 28 years in the medical device design consulting industry with PDD, Sagentia, and his own consultancy, Clinvue.

Originally trained in industrial design engineering at the Royal College of Art and in Mechanical Design at Cranfield Institute of Technology in the UK, Fearis helped to define and bring to market a broad range of medical devices for both multinational corporations and startups in the United States and around the world.

He specializes in human-centric product design with particular emphasis on front-end innovation and product specification processes, including ethnographic observational research and the identification of unmet, underserved, and unarticulated clinical/stakeholder needs.


Jennifer Joe, MD
Principal, Vanguard.Health

Jennifer Joe, MD, is a Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham and Women’s Hospital nephrology graduate turned physician entrepreneur CEO and Co-Founder of Medstro & MedTech Boston. Under her leadership, Medstro, which was founded in 2013, was cash-flow positive in only 14 months, profitable in only the second year of operations, and had revenue grow at a CAGR of 267% since 2014. Medstro & MedTech Boston were acquired in 2018, at which time it had seven full-time and five part-time employees and had large contracts with companies like the New England Journal of Medicine, American Medical Association, Boston Scientific, and Google.

Joe has been a leader in catalyzing the Boston and nationwide healthcare innovation ecosystem. She has led over 50 healthcare open innovation events with both the public and the private sector, including Google, Boston Scientific, Philips, the Brigham and Women’s Innovation Hub, the Massachusetts accelerator [email protected], Healthbox, and Harvard Medical School’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, just to name a few.

Joe has been invited to speak, mentor, or judge at hundreds of local, national, and international events, including South by Southwest, Google, HIMSS, Partners HealthCare Innovation, the Massachusetts Medical Society, IN3 Medical Device 360, the International Society of Wearable Technology in Healthcare, MassTLC, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) Market R&D Challenge, the Federation of State Medical Boards, Partners World Medical Innovation Forum, MATTER Chicago, and Health 2.0.

Joe currently teaches two regular Harvard Medical School classes, one on social media and on women in leadership, and is a practicing emergency room, urgent care, and hospitalist physician at three Boston hospitals, where she also oversees students, residents, and fellows training.


Jennifer McCaney, PhD
Executive Director, UCLA Biodesign

Jennifer McCaney, PhD, is the executive director of UCLA Biodesign, an early-stage innovation program for healthcare technology, and associate director of the UCLA Clinical and Translational Science Institute. She is also assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and a lecturer at the Anderson School of Management, where she leads courses on disruptive technology and entrepreneurship in healthcare.

A co-founder of Hourglass Technologies, a Stanford Biodesign company, McCaney led early product development and also launched the MedTech Innovator Accelerator, which grew from an initial cohort of 20 companies to more than 150 alumni with a combined $700 million in funding. She has worked extensively with startup companies in medtech, digital health, and diagnostics, as well as business development executives from leading manufacturers, including Johnson & Johnson, Amgen, Baxter, BD, Olympus, and others in her role as the director of MedTech Innovator.

A Fulbright Scholar, McCaney completed her PhD in mechanical engineering at Stanford and MS in biomedical engineering from the University of New South Wales. She holds an MS and BS in mechanical engineering from MIT, where she was a Draper Fellow, and a BS in management science from the MIT Sloan School of Management.


Ramya Palacholla, MD, MPH
Assistant Professor, Tufts University School of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine; Associate Director, Health Informatics and Analytics Program; Advisor, American Medical Association (Physician Innovation Network)

Ramya Palacholla is a primary care physician and a faculty member of the Harvard Medical School and Tufts University School of Medicine. She is also the associate director for health informatics and analytics at Tufts.

Palacholla is interested in the intersection of health care delivery and technology, and her research projects are focused on designing and evaluating the impact of novel smartphone applications, medical devices, clinical decision support systems, predictive analytics-based population health management tools, and AI- based health technology interventions on patients with chronic diseases and cancer.

Palacholla presented her research on innovative technologies at the World Economic Forum, and her research on an “Innovative Tumor Response Forecasting Model in Breast Cancer Patients" was awarded the first position in the Harvard Ideation Challenge and selected as one of the top six finalists for the Boston Scientific and Google Connected Patient Challenge 2018, a renowned platform that showcases healthcare innovations across the globe. She is the co-author of one of the first books to be written for clinicians on novel treatment methods for the management of Military Sexual Trauma in war veterans. She was also honored with the "Woman of the Year" award in 2019 by the INE News for her contributions to health care innovation in the United States and was featured as one of the top “Women to Watch in Health IT” by Beckers Hospital Review in 2019.


Mary Kay Smith
Director, Michigan State University Learning and Assessment Center

Mary Kay Smith serves as the director of the Michigan State University Learning and Assessment Center, where she is also an assistant professor. She holds a doctorate in higher, adult and lifelong education administration. Smith is the current chair of accreditation for the International Society for Simulation in Healthcare (ISSH), and accreditation reviewer, team leader, and member of the SSH Directors’ Committee and IPE Committee. She is also the quality assurance chair for the American Heart Association Great Lakes Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee and member of the Association for Standardized Patient Educators, SimGhost, and Sigma Theta Tau International.

Smith has been a leader with regard to simulation, medical device, and packaging interface, presenting internationally and multiple collaborative research initiatives. Her clinical expertise as a nurse includes 19 years in emergency department and three years in ICU/CCU and clinical education.


Nigel Syrotuck
Mechanical Engineer Team Lead, Product Design, Starfish Medical

Nigel Syrotuck is a mechanical engineer in product design at Starfish Medical, where he oversees a wide variety of projects. These have recently included diagnostics tools, injection devices, surgical accessories, and others that utilize both optics and ultrasound. A frequent blogger and futurist at heart, Syrotuck often writes about the impact of new materials and business models on medical devices. Prior to StarFish Medical, he worked in aerospace design for a research satellite.


Kelly Umstead
Assistant Professor of Industrial Design and Director of Graduate Programs in Industrial Design, NC State University

Kelly Umstead is an assistant professor of industrial design and the director of graduate programs in industrial design at NC State University. She has product development and management experience in the medical device industry. With graduate degrees in biomedical engineering and industrial design, Umstead’s design process is human-centric, from the identification of user needs to the translation of those needs into viable products. In academia, her research focuses on design in healthcare, human-centered design, and research methodologies.


Mark Wehde
Chair, Mayo Clinic
Division of Engineering

Mark Wehde is chair of the Mayo Clinic Division of Engineering, assistant professor of Biomedical Engineering in the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science, fellow in the Mayo Clinic Academy of Educational Excellence, and associate lecturer for the University of Wisconsin MBA Consortium program.

He is on the board of governors for the IEEE Technology and Engineering Management Society and the IEEE Systems Council. He is a technical committee member for the IEEE International Symposium on Medical Measurements and Applications and an affiliate for the University of Minnesota Medical Industry Leadership Institute.

Wehde has been a past juror for the Medical Design Excellence Awards, the R&D 100 Awards, and the Edison Awards. He is also a member of the South Dakota State University Electrical Engineering Industry Advisory Board. He is also a member of the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health Network of Digital Health Experts.

Wehde received a MS in Biomedical Engineering from Iowa State University, a BS degree in Electrical Engineering from South Dakota State University, and a MBA through the University of Wisconsin.


Stephanie Whalen
Product Design Manager

Stephanie Whalen is an accomplished mechanical engineer with extensive product development experience in medical device and consumer electronics. She has guided companies, from startups to multinational corporations, in every stage of the product development and production cycle. Specializing in R&D, Whalen has developed home health systems, wearable patient and practitioner measurement devices, therapeutic (ablation) and diagnostic electrophysiology catheters for AF and VT, inpatient and outpatient surgical aids for many types of treatment, and surgical trainers. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as well as a Master of Business Administration certification.


Michael E. Wiklund
General Manager of Human Factors Engineering, UL

Michael Wiklund serves as General Manager of the human factors engineering (HFE) practice at UL (Underwriters Laboratories). Previously, he founded Wiklund Research & Design, a human factors consulting firm that UL acquired in 2012.

Wiklund has more than 30 years of experience in human factors engineering, much of which has focused on medical technology development—optimizing hardware and software user interfaces as well as user documentation. He is a Certified Human Factors Specialist and Licensed Professional Engineer. He is author, co-author, or editor of several books on human factors, including Writing Human Factors Test Plans and Reports for Medical Technology Development, Usability Testing of Medical Devices, Handbook of Human Factors in Medical Device Design, and Medical Device Use Error – Root Cause Analysis. He is one of the primary authors of today's most pertinent standards and guidelines on human factors engineering of medical devices: AAMI HE75, IEC 62366-1, and IEC 62366-2.

In addition to leading UL's human factors engineering practice that now includes over 60 human factors engineering and user interface design specialists, Wiklund is a professor of the practice at Tufts University, where he teaches graduate courses on human factors engineering, including applying human factors engineering in medical technology development.


Stavros Zanos, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Institute of Bioelectronic Medicine, Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research; Affiliate Assistant Professor, Physiology and Biophysics, University of Washington
School of Medicine

Stavros Zanos obtained his MD diploma from Aristotle University, in Thessaloniki, Greece. He served as a general medical practitioner and a military physician before training in internal medicine and cardiology, and earned a PhD in neuroscience and physiology from the University of Washington School of Medicine in 2013, where he also served as senior fellow and instructor. He joined the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research as assistant professor in 2017. At the Feinstein Institutes, he leads the Translational Neurophysiology Lab at the Institute for Bioelectronic Medicine. He is also adjunct assistant professor at the University of Washington.

Zano’s studies focus on neurostimulation as a means to study the nervous system and to treat diseases in which the nervous system is affected or implicated. The main areas of his research are neural control of autonomic function, neural plasticity, responsive and adaptive (closed-loop) neuromodulation, and development and testing of bioelectronic medicine therapies. His lab conducts research on treating cardiovascular, neurological, and metabolic diseases using neurostimulation. He is principal investigator in a DARPA project on the use of vagus nerve stimulation to promote targeted brain plasticity and augment cognitive performance. Zanos is the author of 20 peer-reviewed publications.