The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology has chosen five outstanding graduate students at the University of Illinois as the Beckman Institute Graduate Fellows for 2011. The five were selected based on the quality of their proposed work, the likelihood that the work would lead to important new results in their field, and the relevance of the proposed project to existing Beckman Institute research.
The Beckman Institute Graduate Fellows program provides an excellent opportunity for young scholars who are engaged in thesis research at the M.A., M.S., or Ph.D. level at the University of Illinois to pursue interdisciplinary research at the Institute. Research projects must involve at least one Beckman faculty member as well as a second University of Illinois faculty member. Preference is given to those proposals that are interdisciplinary and involve the active participation of two Beckman faculty members from two different groups. The program is supported by funding from the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Foundation.
The 2011 Beckman Institute Graduate Fellows are listed below, along with brief descriptions of their research.
A doctoral candidate in Chemistry at the University of Illinois, Sumit Ashtekar has a research goal of unlocking the mystery of glass transition. Sumit uses ultrahigh vacuum scanning tunneling microscopy in order to gain insight into something that has eluded scientific explanation: a fundamental understanding of the physical processes involved when glasses undergo a rapid and super-exponential increase in viscosity when cooled around the glass transition temperature. He works with Beckman Institute faculty members Joe Lyding and Martin Gruebele in his research.
Jessie Chin is a Ph.D. candidate in Educational Psychology who earned a Master’s at Illinois in Human Factors. Jessie’s research focus will be on modeling differences in cognitive foraging behavior between younger and older adults. Her research goals include developing a mathematical model of age differences in cognitive foraging for information and demonstrating the adaptation process in interactive learning of dynamic cognitive foraging tasks for both basic research purposes and for applications such as design of web interfaces for senior users. She is working with Beckman faculty members Elizabeth Stine-Morrow, Dan Morrow, and Wai-Tat Fu.
Amy Maduram is in the Medical Scholars and Neuroscience programs at Illinois, working toward a Ph.D. in Neuroscience/Neuroengineering and an M.D. Amy’s research integrates neuroscience and engineering to investigate how individual demyelinating neurons in well-defined neuronal networks influence our sensations of pain. The work has potential applications in the development of new therapies for alleviating pain. Amy collaborates with Beckman faculty Jonathan Sweedler, William Olivero, and Douglas Jones in her research efforts.
Feng Xiong is a Ph.D. candidate in Electrical Engineering at Illinois with a research interest in ultra-low power phase change memory for data storage. As a Beckman Graduate Fellow, Feng will explore the fundamental limits at which data storage is possible in phase-change materials, which, when used for information storage, have the speed of dynamic random access memory but without its disadvantages such as volatility. Feng works with Eric Pop and William King in his research endeavors.
Yue Zhuo is working toward a Ph.D. in Bioengineering at Illinois. Her research is aimed at understanding the molecular mechanism governing migration and cancer metastasis at subcellular levels. Yue uses fluorescence resonance energy transfer sensors to study cancer cell dynamics and migration with an ultimate goal of developing highly integrative image analysis paradigms which can bridge the field of fluorescence live cell imaging and quantitative science. Yue is working with Beckman researchers Peter Wang and Zhi-Pei Liang.