The Beckman Graduate Fellows Program offers University of Illinois graduate students at the M.A., M.S., or Ph.D. level the opportunity to pursue interdisciplinary research at the Institute. Research projects must involve at least one Beckman faculty member in addition to a second U of I faculty member, and preference is given to those proposals that are interdisciplinary and involve the active participation of two Beckman faculty members from two different groups.
Eight graduate students will begin their fellowships during the Fall 2013 semester:
Pauline Baniqued is a PhD student in psychology, with research interests in understanding the neurocognitive mechanisms of executive control, and how these control processes change with age, training and other interventions. She plans to employ an integrative research approach that takes into account the complex system of interactions among brain regions for optimal cognition and performance, with the aim of shedding light on questions that span the disciplines of psychology and human performance, neuroscience, and public health. Pauline works with Beckman Institute faculty members Art Kramer, Monica Fabiani, and Gabriele Gratton.
April Colette is a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography and Geographic Information Science. April’s research interests are broadly related to the human dimensions of environmental change with a specific focus on cities. Her dissertation research explores the complex and multiscalar interplay between the social, political, economic and technological processes that interact to reproduce vulnerability. By examining how people understand their own vulnerability and what they to reduce it, April’s research will help illuminate different types of human adaptive responses to climate-related change, particularly in areas persistently at risk of hazards. Prior to her PhD, she earned her M.S. at the London School of Economics and Political Science and worked as a consultant for international development aid agencies. April currently works with faculty from two SDEP programs: Jesse Ribot from the Program on Climate and Society and Ashwini Chhatre from the Program on Democracy and Environment as well as Robert Olshansky from the Department of Urban and Regional Planning.
Matt Gelber is a PhD student in bioengineering. He is developing a 3D printer capable of patterning cells, gels, and polymers with micron-scale resolution. The initial application will be to create 3D microfluidic devices for applications in synthetic and analytical chemistry. Ultimately, the device will be used to construct experimental systems that mimic tissue structure and microenvironment. Matt hopes to use this research tool to collaborate with investigators across the campus, facilitating their work as he continues to explore new applications of 3D printing. Matt intends to collaborate with Professors Rohit Bhargava, Martin Gruebele, Jeff Moore, and Narayana Aluru.
Anuj Girdhar is a PhD student in physics. His work, under the supervision of Jean-Pierre Leburton and Klaus Schulten, aims to develop a graphene nanoribbon Quantum Point Contact (QPC) DNA sequencing device. His project aims to be at the forefront of computational engineering, nanoscale device physics, and computational biophysics, while examining the possibilities that interdisciplinary collaboration can achieve.
Michael Odarczenko is pursuing graduate studies in aerospace engineering. His research goal is to develop multifunctional coatings that are capable of healing damage in response to a variety of environmental triggers, such as change in pH due to corrosion, chemical composition, or bacterial growth. He plans to work with Nancy Sottos and Scott White in the Autonomous Materials System (AMS) Group at the Beckman Institute.
Brennan Payne is a doctoral student in the Cognitive Science of Teaching and Learning division of educational psychology and a trainee on the NIH-funded language training grant. His research interests address two major questions. 1) How do aging and individual differences impact sentence understanding? (including topics such as eye-movement control during reading and the role of working memory); and 2) How is cognitive enrichment achieved in adulthood? (including topics such as cognitive training). He will work with Elizabeth Stine-Morrow, Kara Federmeier, Kiel Christianson, Dan Morrow, and and Duane Watson.
Brendon Smith’s research has focused on the biological effects of ultrasound imaging when used with microbubble contrast agents to image blood vessels. He is currently pursuing a PhD in nutritional sciences and is working with John Erdman and William O’Brien. His research at Beckman will utilize ultrasound imaging to determine the ability of dietary tomato to prevent or delay aging-related chronic disease in rodent models.
Renjie Zhou is a Ph.D candidate in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is supervised by Lynford Goddard and Gabriel Popescu and works on finding isolated defects in 9 nm node semiconductor wafers using quantitative phase microscopy. He plans to inspect wafers with intricate structures, such as ones with non-periodic patterns, silicon 3D structures (e.g. finFET architecture), and high aspect ratio (HAR) structures. His research goal is to develop methods to improve the image resolution and the ability to detect defects from a single frame image capture. He will also work on developing algorithms for reconstruction of the 3D structures of the wafer patterns. The research will bring collaborations with Scott Carney, Minh Do, and Zhi-Pei Liang.