Drexel’s 2014 NSF Graduate Research Fellows and Honorable Mentions

NSF logoA huge congratulations to the seven Drexel students and alumni who are recipients of the 2014 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships (GRFP) and to the nine Honorable Mentions!

We are immensely proud of these students for their research and the hard work that went into applying for this prestigious award. We also congratulate the faculty mentors who advised them and helped them along the way.

NSF GRFP 2014 Recipients:

Emily Buck - croppedEmily Buck, BS/MS ’14, Honors (Materials Science & Engineering)

Emily is working with Dr. Caroline Schauer to electrospin polymer nanofibers for use as water filtration membranes. She is involved in outreach activities to encourage minority groups to pursue careers in the STEM fields and has been pursuing a minor in French.

 

Sylvia Herbert - croppedSylvia Herbert, BS/MS ’14, Honors (Mechanical Engineering)

Sylvia conducts research in the Drexel Nanophotonics Lab under Dr. Adam Fontecchio, where she has worked on sundry projects ranging from alternative energy generators to unique smart fabrics to liquid crystal waveguides. Outside the lab, she also plays the ukulele.

 

Chelsea Knittel - croppedChelsea Knittel, BS ’14, Honors (Sustainable Materials and Design)

Chelsea began her research in the development of smart textiles and garment devices through her co-op at the Shima Seiki Haute Technology Lab. As an undergraduate, she has been mentored by Drs. Diana Nicholas and Genevieve Dion.

 

Brian Leung - croppedBrian Leung, BS ’11, Honors (Chemistry)

Brian is studying how prolonged activation of the immune system can influence learning and memory. He is currently a second year Neuroscience graduate student at the University of Southern California working under Dr. Terrence Tong.

 

Yi-Hsuan Lin - croppedYi-Hsuan (Cindy) Lin, PhD ’17 (Physics)

Cindy is studying Neutrino Physics under Dr. Michelle Dolinski. In addition to her research work, she is involved with physics education and will be starting her Particle Physics for Kids program, which aims to encourage students in urban public schools to pursue physics.

 

Adams Rackes - croppedAdams Rackes, BS/PhD ’16, Honors (Architectural Engineering)

Adams’ current research focuses on using machine learning and optimization techniques to improve the control of ventilation in commercial buildings, in order to both save energy and improve indoor air quality. His faculty mentor is Dr. Michael S. Waring.

 

Karthik Sangaiah - croppedKarthik Sangaiah, PhD ’16 (Computer Engineering)

Karthik’s research aims to develop cutting edge networks-on-chip (NoC) designs for use in industry and the research community. He is a mentor for an ECE senior design group, and a teaching assistant. He is advised by Drs. Baris Taskin and Mark Hempstead.

 

NSF GRFP 2014 Honorable Mentions:

Zachary Brodnik (Neuroscience, PhD program)
Bryan Byles (Materials Science Engineering, PhD program)
Allison Byrne (Environmental Science, BS ’13, Honors)
Mary Chessey (Physics, BS ’13, Honors)
Robert Devlin (Materials Science Engineering, BS/MS ‘13)
William Hilton (Electrical Engineering, PhD program)
Steven Pagano (Mechanical Engineering, PhD program)
Poonam Sharma (Biomedical Engineering, BS ’12, Honors)
Leah Spangler (Chemical Engineering, BS/MS, Honors)

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The NSF GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions.

Fulbright Info Session

Fulbright_logoWednesday, April 16th, 3-4:30 p.m.
Behrakis Hall – North, Chestnut between 32nd and 33rd

Come hear about the Fulbright US Student Program from Drexel students who are finalists for the program and staff from the Drexel Fellowships Office.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards funding for one academic year of self-designed study, academic research, creative projects, or teaching English in one of over 140 countries around the world. The program is sponsored by the Department of State.  Eligible students are US Citizens who will have a bachelor’s degree before the start of the grant (Fall 2015). Graduates and graduate students are also eligible to apply.

This is a repeating event. Make sure to visit our website for the full schedule.

Fulbright Info Session

Fulbright_logoWednesday, April 9th, 12-1 p.m.
Room G-23G, Queen Lane Campus

Come hear about the Fulbright US Student Program from Drexel students who are finalists for the program and staff from the Drexel Fellowships Office.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards funding for one academic year of self-designed study, academic research, creative projects, or teaching English in one of over 140 countries around the world. The program is sponsored by the Department of State.  Eligible students are US Citizens who will have a bachelor’s degree before the start of the grant (Fall 2015). Graduates and graduate students are also eligible to apply.

This is a repeating event. Make sure to visit our website for the full schedule.

Fulbright Info Session Webinar

Fulbright_logoTuesday, April 8th, 6:30 p.m.
Join the session here

Come hear about the Fulbright US Student Program from Drexel students who are finalists for the program and staff from the Drexel Fellowships Office.

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards funding for one academic year of self-designed study, academic research, creative projects, or teaching English in one of over 140 countries around the world. The program is sponsored by the Department of State.  Eligible students are US Citizens who will have a bachelor’s degree before the start of the grant (Fall 2015). Graduates and graduate students are also eligible to apply.

This is a repeating event. Make sure to visit our website for the full schedule.

Fulbright Update from Brazil: Liesl Driver

LieslLiesl graduated from Drexel with an MS in Global and International Education. With her special interest in indigenous languages and populations, she is now working as an English language teaching assistant in the culturally rich and diverse country of Brazil. She hopes to teach English to local businesspeople and artisans who are preserving their local culture in a global society.

I am in Pato Branco, in the western part of the state of Parana.  It is a town of about 70,000 and only a few hours away from the border with Argentina.

I spent my first week in Brasilia, the federal capital of Brazil.  It is most famous for its modern architectural design by Oscar Niemeyer.  The whole city is in the shape of an airplane.  I arrived two days before orientation so had a little time to explore the city.  The only drawback was mode of transportation – you really couldn’t walk from one place to another. During that time, I went to Parque Nacional de Brasilia and a local market (see picture of Acai).

Bride Brasilia   eating Acai in Brasilia

 

 

 

 

 

Left: Bride Basilia. Right: Acai.

Orientation was three full days of presentations and activities.  We did a bus tour of the city and learned about cultural differences and teaching in Brazil. There were 90 ETAs at the orientation so a big part of that was forming connections with everyone.

After Brasilia, my co-ETA, Adriana, and I flew to Curitiba. That is the closest major airport to Pato Branco and from there you have to take a bus.   It was a 7 hour bus ride to Pato Branco. Unfortunately, there is no airport in Pato Branco so that is really our only option.

We spent the first week looking for an apartment and taking care of paperwork, such as registering with the federal police. During that time we rented a room in an older lady’s house who provided breakfast and dinner (coffee and banana bread for both, usually). This arrangement was set up by our Professor. We had one introductory class at the university (Universidade Tecnológica Federal do Paraná at the Pato Branco Campus, a federal university with 12 different campuses throughout the state of Parana) during that week.

walk to Joaquina beach Florianopolis (2)Joaquina Beach Florianopolis (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The university was closed the following week for Carnaval.  I traveled to Florianopolis, an island in Santa Catarina.  I met a few other ETAs there to explore the city and go to the beach.

Now I am back in Pato Branco, have moved into an apartment, and finally getting to work.  We are supposed to work 15-20 hours at week at the university, primarily with the Ingles Sem Fronteiras (English Without Borders) program. We are also starting an English Conversation Club for any interested students or faculty, and there is already a lot of interest!

2014 Udall Scholar

Congratulations to Drexel’s 2014 Udall Scholar, Collin Cavote! We are so excited for you!

Collin CavoteCollin (Biomimicry, BS ’15, Honors) spent 5 years away from college exploring North America to better understand what sustainability means for business. He came to Drexel because of the Custom Design Major, which allows him to study biology, chemistry, design, and entrepreneurship (mentor: Shivanthi Anandan). Collin also hoped to launch a company as a student that would create environmental and social value. Now as a Close School of Entrepreneurship Co-op, Collin has the opportunity to grow his company, Biome. The company’s mission is to purify air and has applications for climate change and indoor air quality.

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The Udall Scholarship awards 50 scholarships of up to $5000 and 50 honorable mentions to sophomore and junior level college students committed to careers related to the environment, tribal public policy, or Native American health care.  The Udall Foundation seeks future leaders across a wide spectrum of environmental fields, including policy, engineering, science, education, urban planning and renewal, business, health, justice, and economics.  Find out more on the Udall Scholarship website.

For more information, email Cindy Schaarschmidt, Asst. Director of the Fellowships Office.

2014 Goldwater Scholars and Honorable Mentions

Congratulations to Drexel’s 2014 Goldwater Scholars– Alex Benjamin and Jeremy Gaison, and two Honorable Mentions: Veronika Legkobitova and Matthew Parsons. We’re so proud of you!

Alex Benjamin Alex Benjamin (Mechanical Engineering, BS/MS ‘15, Honors) is an undergraduate researcher at Drexel’s Electrochemical Systems Laboratory (advisor: Dr. E. Caglan Kumbur) where he is working to optimize vanadium redox flow batteries for alternative energy storage.

 

Jeremy Gaison Jeremy Gaison (Physics and Mathematics, BS ‘15, Honors) has conducted research as a STAR scholar and in two co-ops so far. At a U.S. Army research lab, he worked on nuclear physics experimental techniques. At Drexel, he has been working under the guidance of Drs. J Doug Wright and Shari Moskow in the Math department and with Drs. Charles Lane and Michelle Dolinski in Physics. Jeremy plans to work in the field of particle physics and neutrino research.

 

Veronika Legkobitova Veronika Legkobitova (Mechanical Engineering, BS/MS ‘16, Honors) has had research experiences at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, a U.S. Navy research lab, and Dr. Pramod Abichandani’s lab at Drexel. She plans to pursue a career in biomechanical engineering, designing mechanical devices such as nanorobots for medical use.

 

Matthew Parsons Matthew Parsons (Physics, BS ‘15, Honors) has conducted research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Maryland. He hopes to pursue research in computational plasma physics in support of the advancement of international fusion science and technology. His advisor is Dr. Gregory Downing at the National Institute of Standards and Technology – NIST.

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The Goldwater Scholarship was established by Congress in 1986, with the goal of recognizing the nation’s top undergraduates in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fields. The purpose of the Foundation is to provide a continuing source of highly qualified scientists, mathematicians, and engineers by awarding scholarships to college students who intend to pursue careers in these fields. For more information please email Rona Buchalter, Director, Fellowships Office.

Interview with Fulbright Finalist, Lauren Pitts

lauren pittsLauren holds a Master’s in Couple and Family Therapy from Drexel. If awarded the Fulbright, she plans to study father-daughter attachment and communication and their impact on adolescent daughters’ sexual decision-making in Barbados, in collaboration with PAREDOS (Parent Education for Development in Barbados) and the University of West Indies. Recently she talked to us about applying to the Fulbright US Student Program.

Drexel Fellowships Office (DFO): Why did you decide to apply for the Fulbright?

Lauren Pitts (LP): I had not heard of the Fulbright until I got a letter from the Fellowships Office that because of my academic record, I should consider applying. I had been awarded the Clinical Excellence and Social Justice Award back in June 2013. I went to the first meeting with Dr. Buchalter and spoke with her at length, and afterwards, just like I do everything else in my life, I prayed about it, and it’s been a phenomenal journey.

DFO: What is your research project?

LP: I am half-Caribbean but I know very little about that part of my heritage so when I was presented with the Fulbright opportunity, I began extensive research on family issues in the Caribbean.  In looking at the data, Barbados leapt off the page at me because the statistical info there on teen pregnancy and intimate violence is comparable to the US, and from one perspective worse because the island is so much smaller. I wanted to investigate more, but there is not a lot of research, so I knew that I have to do it, to get some answers.

The personal statement forced me to do in-depth self-reflection to link my life experience with my project proposal.

DFO: The goal of the Fulbright is to build mutual understanding between the United States and other countries. What does mutual understanding mean to you?

LP: Mutual understanding comes into play when I look at immigration statistics and it’s evident that we have a huge influx of Caribbean peoples coming into the US. From a cultural perspective, there are specific dynamics that might lead to the girls becoming teen mothers here. For instance, one of the major issues there is older men having relationships with young girls – here that is considered pedophilia, and a crime, but over there it’s not.  Also, even though most households there are run by women, it’s still a very patriarchal society where men run things, and most women accept that’s just how it is.

DFO: What was the application process like?

LP: I had no idea how intense the process was going to be. The personal statement forced me to do in-depth self-reflection to link my life experience with my project proposal. I did probably 18 drafts of the personal statement before I got to the version that was submitted and landed me a finalist position. I wanted to quit more than few times, but Rachel Wenrick from the Drexel Writing Center kept encouraging me. At one point, when I was really struggling, she told me to put my drafts aside and to just write raw without worrying about structure, grammar or criticism.  This was a breakthrough moment because I had become so accustomed to being judged and criticized, to feeling disenfranchised, that it was cathartic to feel I was being heard.

DFO: Now that you are a finalist, what is next? Do you have another plan if you don’t get fellowship?

LP: Well, I recently received my Master’s so I am on the market for work.  I’ve been working on my doctorate since July 2013 at Northcentral University , but I’m transferring back to Drexel, where I belong, to continue my studies. If I don’t get accepted by Barbados, I will continue with these efforts.

Be real about it, because the people who are living in the cultural region where you are going to do your project deserve someone who is willing to be authentic.

What I really want professionally is to work with the Department of Education in a health and human services capacity, bringing together these disciplines as a space from which to advocate for youth and families. I think the Fulbright can break down a lot of barriers so I really hope I get it, but I am also confident in my future because my resume is solid and now I have a Master’s degree from one of top programs in the country for Family Therapy.

DFO: What is your advice to students who are thinking about applying?

LP: Don’t make light of the fact that it is a very time consuming process. Do not wait until the last minute to get everything done because that is not going to work out for you.  It is an arduous process, prepare yourself for that. Also, don’t be superficial – this process requires you to be transparent and sincere.  I say that from the perspective of a researcher, because there is such a huge respect that you must have and demonstrate when you’re going to submerge yourself in another culture. You cannot go into that haphazardly.  Be real about it, because the people who are living in the cultural region where you are going to do your project deserve someone who is willing to be authentic.

Fulbright Update from Nigeria: Seyi Aderotoye

Seyi AderotoyeSeyi is a student at Drexel University College of Medicine (MD ’15) and she is spending a year in Lagos, Nigeria on a Fulbright US Student Program grant. Seyi’s project aims to determine the cultural and socioeconomic influence on pain management for sickle cell disease (SCD) patients in Nigeria. Of Nigerian descent herself, Seyi is using her Fulbright experience to bring together Western and African understandings of sickle cell treatments.

Recently she participated in a medical mission in Oyo State with the senator of South Oyo and the Philadelphia-based nonprofit organization, Labakcare. Together they visited two villages and provided health screening, services and medication.

IbarapaIbarapaThe first village they worked in was Ibarapa, which is surrounded by hills (see photos) and has no medical clinic or hospital.  “The medical mission was major for that area,” Seyi observed. “We provided services at the Igangan town hall.”

The second location they visited was Agugu, a small town within Ibadan, the capital city of Oyo State. “By the time we headed [there], the team had been together for three days so we were comfortable with each other,” wrote Seyi.

They traveled with police escorts and in a coaster bus provided by the College of Medicine at the University of Ibadan, a highly respected institution throughout Nigeria and West Africa.

Medical school bus

Fulbright Update from Korea: Nathan Taylor

Nathan is a Drexel PhD candidate in Mechanical Engineering and a 2014-2015 Fulbright scholar.  He proposes to use electrical plasma discharge to treat water contaminated with pollution from fuel extraction in conjunction with Kwangwoon University. He hopes to expand his expertise on water treatment techniques by utilizing Kwangwoon’s plasma science knowledge. Recently he sent us an update about his Fulbright experience. 

I arrived in Korea in the middle of October to start my 10 month research fellowship. Before applying to Fulbright, I had never been in Asia before which is in part what made it so exciting because there is almost unlimited things to learn and experience here.

My first impressions were primarily what you would expect when arriving in a place where you don’t speak the language but my host, Kwangwoon University, has provided me with wonderful support and been extremely welcoming. Every day, I work in the lab with the students here and have lunch and dinner with them in Korean restaurants. In case you were wondering, yes, I am now a chopsticks master. I took an intensive Korean language course for 2 months after arrival and now am pretty much only able to order in restaurants, but I consider this a small victory and slowly progress every day.

I am working at the Plasma Bioscience Research Center with a mix of Korean and some other international students from around Asia, as well as some visiting research students from Germany and Thailand that have come and gone. Before coming to Korea I had been conducting research at the Drexel Plasma Institute in the area of electric plasma in water. In Korea, I have been researching electric plasma discharge and its interaction with living cells – the specialty of the lab here. In February, I attended the Korean Vacuum Society Conference outside of Seoul and plan to attend the International Conference on Plasma Medicine in Japan in May.

With 6 months left, I plan to make more connections with Korean research labs and the scientific community, and continue to explore Seoul and other areas of the country. This includes potentially a bicycle ride from Seoul to Busan which is from one corner of the country to the other (it’s not a very big country).

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