Student News

Two engineering students have received prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships (NSF GRF):  Erik Carboni, a doctoral candidate working in the laboratory of Dr. Anson Ma (Chemical, Materials & Biomolecular Eng.) and senior Brittany Nkounkou (Computer Science & Engineering), who will pursue a doctoral degree at Cornell University in fall 2012.

Erik’s work involves the delivery of drug molecules to cancerous tumors via the use of nanoparticles. In particular, he is interested in the effect of blood flow on the diffusion and delivery of anti-cancer drugs to the tumor site.  Brittany, who is interested in programming languages, participated in UConn’s Bio-Grid NSF-sponsored Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program led by Dr. Chun-Hsi Huang and also conducted research with Dr. Yufeng Wu.  NSF Graduate Research Fellows receive a three-year annual stipend $30,000 plus a yearly $12,000 cost-of-education allowance.  In 2011, NSF awarded just 2,000 Fellowships from 12,000 applicants.

In addition, four current UConn engineering students earned NSF GRFP honorable mentions: Michael Zuba, a Computer Science & Engineering student; doctoral student Nicholas Williams (adv. Dr. Helena Silva), an Electrical & Computer Engineering student; Joseph Mummert, a University of Akron graduate earning his master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering (adv. Dr. Wei Sun); and Erik Johnson, a Chemical Engineering senior who will pursue his graduate studies at the University of Texas at Austin.

Derek Holyoak, a junior at the University of Connecticut, majoring in Biomedical Engineering and minoring in electrical engineering, has been accepted into the Research in Science & Engineering (RiSE) program at Rutgers University/University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ). The summer-long RiSE program, which focuses on traditionally underrepresented and economically disadvantaged populations, immerses students in summer research and features personalized mentor-matching, weekly academic enrichment/professional development, including GRE prep, training in scientific writing and oral presentation, graduate school admission workshops, exploration of career options, field trips to nearby pharmaceutical and technology companies, seminars, and culminating poster presentation symposium. Derek will be participating in a research project that incorporates biomedical imaging, computer programming, microscopy skills, and biochemical assays of cell differentiation. Derek was encouraged to apply to the program by Assistant Professor-in-Residence Dr. Krystyna Gielo-Perczak.

Environmental Engineering senior Nirav Patel received second place in a poster presentation competition at the New England Water Works Association Conference 2012 held April 4-5 in Worcester, MA.  He presented his research work (adv.: Dr. Baikun Li), on the “Potential for Stainless Steel (SS) as an Anode Electrode in Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) for Alternative Treatment of Wastewater and Power Generation.”

Sophomore Ragini Phansalkar (’14), a double major in biological sciences and computer science, was named an honorable mention for the prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.  An honors student, Ragini is a Nutmeg Scholar and was named a UConn New England Scholar in 2011. She is conducting laboratory research on protein structure and function in the laboratories of Drs. Barbara Mellone (Molecular & Cell Biology) and Daniel Schwartz (Physiology & Neurobiology).  She is also active in UConn’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders as a project director leading a team in the development of novel water purification methods for use in Ethiopia and other developing nations. Ragini will intern this summer at the Pasteur Institute Summer Internship Program in Paris.

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