The Beckman Institute 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 who carries out research at Beckman 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 research groups.
Elizabeth Jones is a doctoral candidate in theoretical and applied mechanics in the Mechanical Science and Engineering department. Her research looks to advance the reliability and safety of lithium-ion batteries, and to extend their use beyond portable electronics to electric vehicles and renewable energy storage. She proposes to study high-capacity electrode materials, such as silicon and tin, which have up to ten times the theoretical capacity of commercially used materials (graphite) but are limited by the huge volumetric expansion that occurs during the alloying process with lithium. Elizabeth works with Nancy Sottos and Scott White of the Autonomous Materials Systems Group, as well as with Paul Braun from the 3D Micro- and Nanosystems Group.
Taewoo Kim is a Ph.D. student in electrical and computer engineering. His research focuses on building a quantitative phase imaging (QPI) system that can be used for both non-invasive live cell imaging as well as imaging of optogenetic bio-machines. His proposed new technique will improve the spatial light interference microscopy (SLIM) with a programmable light source to be more informative by adding spatial and spectral specificity. Taewoo works primarily with Gabriel Popescu from Bioimaging Science and Technology Group, and will be co-advised by Rashid Bashir from 3D Micro- and Nanosystems and Martha Gillette from Neurotech for this project.
A doctoral student in molecular and integrative physiology, Itamar Livnat is developing tools to detect D-amino containing-peptides (DAACP), taking advantage of their unique properties like their resistance to degradation by peptidases. The long-term objective of this work is to identify DAACPs in the mammalian nervous system. He is working with Martha Gillette and Jonathan Sweedler in the Neurotech Group.
Qian Yin is a Ph.D. student in materials science and engineering. The goal of her proposed research is to develop a novel translational polymeric nanoparticle system that can successfully evade nonspecific uptake in vivo, and achieve targeted cancer diagnosis and therapy. By uniquely integrating well-established chemical reaction with a nanoprecipitation technique, Qian can prepare drug/dye/radioisotope-containing nanoparticles with perfectly controlled physicochemical characteristics in large quantities. Qian works with faculty in Bioimaging Science and Technology including Stephen Boppart, Jianjun Cheng, and Wawrzyniec Dobrucki, and Timothy Fan from the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Giang-Chau Ngo is completing her Ph.D. in bioengineering. She is looking at how to develop acquisition and estimation approaches for MRIs to provide a fast and robust method to estimate the parameter that represents brain function. Giang-Cho will work with Brad Sutton of Bioimaging Science and Technology and Art Kramer of the Human Perception and Performance Group.
Peiyun Zhou is a doctoral candidate in educational psychology. Her research into auditory perceptual simulation (APS) bridges the fields of linguistics, psychology, and education, and she hopes to contribute to embodied cognition theory in psychology. APS is performed when readers mentally simulate characteristics of the voice of the character in a text. Zhou will employ two methodologies, event-related brain potentials (ERPs) and eye-tracking, to investigate how to improve morphosyntactic awareness through APS of native and non-native English speech. At the Beckman, she is working with Kiel Christianson and Duane Watson of the Cognitive Science Group, Susan Garnsey in the Cognitive Neuroscience Group, and Elizabeth Stine-Morrow from Human Perception and Performance. She also works with Tania Ionin from the Department of Linguistics.