The 2012 class of Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellows has been announced, with six new Fellows joining the program. Begun in 1991, the program has annually attracted top young scientists from around the world for the opportunity it offers to do independent, interdisciplinary research free of teaching or administrative duties. The six 2012 Postdoctoral Fellows were chosen from a competitive field of applicants, They come from a variety of disciplines, and have an array of research interests, from microscopy and imaging, to neuroscience and disease diagnostics, to nanoscale mechanics and human-computer interaction. The 2012 Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellows are Suma Bhat, Bradley Deutsch, Sarah Erickson, Heather Lucas, Jie Sun, and Baoxing Xu.
The six will join a Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellows program that provides an excellent opportunity for young scholars to initiate a post-Ph.D. career of independent research in a stimulating and supportive interdisciplinary environment. Fellows are appointed for up to three years and are selected based on evidence of professional promise, capacity for independent work, outstanding achievement, and interdisciplinary research interests that correspond to one or more of the Beckman Institute’s research themes.
The 2012 Postdoctoral Fellows, their backgrounds, and research interests are listed below:
Suma Bhat earned a Ph.D. in 2010 from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research is in the area of human-computer intelligent interaction, with a primary focus on natural language and speech processing. Her research plans as a Beckman Fellow are to use multiple elements of communication, such as speech and gesture, for improving virtual reality applications like video conferencing. Suma’s goal is to precisely characterize the efficacy of a new an online presentation tool, and then to design tools for improved human-to-human interactions in a virtual setting. She will work with several Beckman researchers, including Art Kramer, Minh Do, Mark Hasegawa-Johnson, and Tom Huang from the Human-Computer Intelligent Interaction research theme, and Jennifer Cole and Kara Federmeier from the Biological Intelligence research theme.
Bradley earned a Ph.D. in Optics in 2011 at the University of Rochester’s Institute of Optics. His research involved nanoscale optics, with a Ph.D. emphasis on phase-shifting interferometric methods for near-field optical microscopy and nanoparticle detection. At Beckman he will work with Scott Carney and Rohit Bhargava of the Bioimaging Science and Technology group. Bradley’s project as a Beckman Fellow will focus on developing an ultramicroscopy technique that encodes spatial information in the spectral domain for improved temporal resolution without a loss of spatial resolution, for use in biology, medicine, and imaging applications.
After earning a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Florida International University in 2011, Sarah Erickson became a postdoctoral researcher in the university’s Optical Imaging Laboratory. Her research interests are in developing diffuse and fluorescence-enhanced optical imaging methods, with a clinical goal of early-stage breast cancer diagnosis. Sarah has used diffuse optical tomography (DOT) toward development of a hand-held based optical imager; as a Fellow she will explore applying optical coherence tomography (OCT) and vibrational imaging toward breast cancer diagnosis and intraoperative tumor margin detection in a clinical setting, and for insight into the biochemical changes of malignant tissue for disease prognosis. Sarah will work with Integrative Imaging research theme Co-chair Stephen Boppart, and collaborate with Rohit Bhargava from the Bioimaging Science and Technology group, and Martin Gruebele from the Nanoelectronics and Nanomaterials group.
Heather Lucas is scheduled to complete her Ph.D. in Psychology at Northwestern University in the summer of 2012. Her research focus is on the neural bases of human memory systems and changes they undergo during the aging process. At Beckman she will work with Cognitive Neuroscience group members Neal Cohen and Kara Federmeier, and with the Center for Nutrition, Learning, and Memory that Cohen directs. Her research aims as a Fellow include identifying early markers of pathological memory decline with age and characterizing the impact of B-vitamin supplementation on cognitive functioning in older adults. The research goals include furthering understanding of human memory dysfunction and addressing topics involving our rapidly growing older population, such as nutrition-based interventions for memory decline.
Jie earned a Ph.D. in Molecular and Integrative Physiology in December of 2011 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is currently a postdoctoral researcher in Beckman Institute faculty member Peter Wang’s research group. As a Beckman Fellow, Jie will be working with Wang, and will collaborate with Eric Jakobsson from the Computational Multiscale Nanosystems group. Her research is in the area of synthetic biology, with a goal of trying to understand the fundamental principles governing the molecular regulations of signaling transduction in living cells. In her Fellows project, Jie will use protocells as a synthetic platform to reconstitute cellular functions and understand the biological organization of cell signaling.
Baoxing Xu is completing a Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics at Columbia University’s Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering. His thesis topic is on the science of nanofluidics and energy conversion. Baoxing’s research involves nanofluidics, fabrication and formation of micro/nanofluidic channels, advanced micro/nano-mechanical characterization of materials and structures, mechanical behavior of advanced materials, and stress-driven pattern in biomaterials and biostructures. At Beckman he will be working with John Rogers from the 3D Micro- and Nanosystems group, and will also have a collaboration with Nancy Sottos and Scott White from the Autonomous Materials Systems group. His research with Rogers will seek to develop a micro/nanofluidics-integrated soft actuator based on conductive polymers for integration with an epidermal electronics system with medical applications. He will work with Sottos and White on integrating the micro/nanofluidic CP actuator inside self-healing materials.