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Beckman student award recipients named

Congratulations to the recipients of the Beckman Institute student awards. The awards will be presented during a ceremony from 3–5 pm Saturday, April 26, in the Beckman Institute atrium.

Published on April 21, 2014

Brennan Payne and Vuong Le will receive the inaugural award in honor of Thomas and Margaret Huang. The Thomas and Margaret Huang Award for Graduate Research supports graduate students in Human-Computer Intelligent Interaction (HCII) at the Beckman Institute. Professor Thomas Huang has advised over 100 students during his career that has spanned five decades and three major research universities (MIT, Purdue, and UIUC). He is a founder of the Image Formation and Processing group and a long-term co-chair of the HCII main research theme.

Brennan will be awarded a Ph.D. in cognitive science of teaching and learning in Department of Educational Psychology in May. He has been working in the Adult Learning Lab at the Beckman Institute with Elizabeth Stine-Morrow. His research has focused on two main questions in the cognitive science of aging: first, how do age-related changes in cognitive ability impact sentence and discourse comprehension? Second, what are the mechanisms underlying cognitive enrichment in older adulthood?

Vuong’s single goal is to do top-notch research in visual media analysis. He has been working with Huang and the Information Formation and Processing Group at Beckman. Through his research experiences, he realized that a major difficulty in image understanding is the high variation of object appearance caused by different imaging conditions such as viewpoint, illumination, and object deformation, so he has decided to continue research in 3D modeling. Vuong is pursuing a Ph.D. in electrical and computer engineering.

Victoria Cross is the recipient of the Erik Haferkamp Memorial Award for Undergraduate Research, which allows a promising undergraduate neuroscientist to pursue research at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology during the summer. Erik was a promising undergraduate researcher who joined Justin Rhodes’ laboratory at the Beckman Institute as a research assistant in spring 2007. He proved to be an outstanding student who dedicated a significant amount of his time to the lab from 2007 until his death in 2010.

Victoria has been working with Justin Rhodes, associate professor of Neurotech, in his Behavioral Genetics Lab. Victoria is currently a junior at the University, planning to graduate in May 2015, with a major in neuroscience. She is also the president of Illini 4000, a non-profit on campus dedicated to fighting cancer. At the Beckman Institute, she has been studying the effects of pairing juvenile clownfish or placing them in quads on the formation of a social hierarchy, as well as the effects of altering hormone capabilites on aggressive and dominant behaviors in male and juvenile clonwfish.

Genevieve LaBelle and Qian Yin have been named the 2014 Nadine Barrie Smith Fellows. In honor of Nadine Barrie Smith’s life and achievements, Nadine’s husband, Andrew Webb, established the Nadine Barrie Smith Memorial Fund, which provides fellowships to female engineering graduate students who are conducting research in the general field of medical imaging (e.g., ultrasound, optical, magnetic resonance) at the Beckman Institute.

Genevieve is pursuing her Ph.D. in computer engineering. At the Beckman Institute, she works with Brad Sutton in the Magnetic Resonance Functional Imaging Lab. Genevieve’s research interests are in making MRIs better and faster by integrating computing, magnetic resonance, and neuroscience. She is working toward enabling high-resolution and high-speed imaging of the brain by developing efficient acquisition and image reconstruction techniques. Genevieve received her B.S. from the University of Illinois in 2009.

When Qian Yin’s grandfather died of liver cancer, she dedicated her career to help develop new biomedical imaging methods to diagnose and treat cancer. Qian is pursuing a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering, and is working with Jianjun Cheng’s group to utilize nanotechnology to tackle the challenges of cancer diagnosis. Through collaborations with Wawrzyniec Dobrucki at Beckman, she has developed polymeric nanoparticle-based contract agents for in vivo x-ray computer tomography imaging.

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