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Meet Varvara: Models of Excellence Honorable Mention recipient for creation of Biomedical Library’s 3D Printing Service

Varvara Kountouzi, manager of the Biomedical Library’s Makerspace, and Models of Excellence Honorable Mention recipient

Have you been enjoying our blog’s 3D Print of the Week feature? Well, this blog post introduces you to the person behind our 3D printing operation: Varvara (also known as Barbara) Kountouzi, manager of the Biomedical Library’s Makerspace, which comprises the 3D printing service as well as poster printing. Varvara received honorable mention in Penn’s 2019 Models of Excellence Awards for having created, from scratch, and in a cost-effective manner, our robust 3D printing service which facilitates innovation in teaching, learning, research, and clinical care for the entire Penn community without barriers.  To date, the operation has printed, free-of-charge to the end-user, over 3,000 objects.

As you can tell by our featured blog posts, we are very proud to have printed objects for student projects in programs such as Integrated Product Design, for laboratory researchers who need parts for their machinery or who design objects to hold phantoms, for professors who teach anatomy, and for clinicians who need to demonstrate procedures or do surgical planning.

If you’ve worked with Varvara as a user of our 3D or poster printing services, or if you’ve attended her presentations about effective poster design, you may not know that she holds several degrees: an M.S.I.S. and M.L.S. from Drexel University, an Ms.Ed. from University of Pennsylvania and a Certificate in Business Essentials from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Her combined skill sets have no doubt contributed to the success of the Makerspace operation.

Varvara first joined the Biomedical Library in 2002 as an intern while a student in Drexel University’s library science program. When her internship concluded, she joined the library full time, and over the years her interests swung towards innovative uses of technology in library services. From that interest, our poster printing service was born, and has grown to be a busy operation printing over 3000 posters per year. Then, in 2015, Varvara and I discussed the idea of acquiring a 3D printer. Varvara did all of the necessary research, investigating printer types, interviewing end-users to gather use-cases, and — fast-forwarding to 2019 — we now have five printers which are in constant use, enabling users to prototype, iterate, and create.

Kudos to Varvara for having grown this service beyond our expectations back in 2015 when we first mused about the idea, and for her much deserved Models of Excellence Honorable Mention award.

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