2015 Beckman Graduate Fellows Announced

The Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology is pleased to announce the 2015 selections for the Graduate Fellows program. Seven outstanding graduate students from the University of Illinois were selected and will begin their fellowships during the Fall 2015 semester.

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.

Angela Barragan
Angela Barragan is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Physics. Her research employs quantum chemical density functional theory calculations combined with molecular dynamics simulations in order to investigate the primary electron and proton transfer reactions at the bc1 complex. The objective is to provide a quantitative description of the biophysical mechanism of these charge transfer reactions and demonstrate their coupled nature. She plans to work with Klaus Schulten of the Theoretical and Computational Biophysics Group, as well as Sharon Hammes-Schiffer of the Department of Chemistry, and Anthony Crofts from the Department of Biochemistry.

Hector Lopez Hernandez
Hector Lopez Hernandez is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering. His research is pursuing a novel class of polymeric materials (metastable polymers) that can be efficiently degraded under a variety of different stimuli for efficient recycling, sustainable engineering, and programmable (transient) lifecycles. He plans to work with Jeff Moore, Nancy Sottos, and Scott White from the Autonomous Materials Systems Group, as well as John Rogers from the 3D Micro- and Nanosystems Group.

Cassandra Jacobs
Cassandra Jacobs is a doctoral student in cognitive psychology. Her research integrates multiple fields of computational and cognitive science, allowing understanding of the mechanisms by which people learn language. She plans to combine various computational techniques from speech processing to identify what cues, if any, signal that idiomatic phrases like "red herring" are said differently from literal phrases like "white house" to see whether listeners can discriminate between these kinds of phrases using the same cues that the algorithm uses. She plans to see whether listeners use these differences to guide their interpretation of what speakers are talking about. She will work with Gary Dell and Duane Watson from Beckman’s Cognitive Science Group, and Margaret Fleck from the Department of Computer Science.

Joanne Li
Joanne Li plans to use optical coherence and multiphoton microscopy to quantitatively evaluate the therapeutic efficacy of adipose pericytes, and the healing mechanism of diabetic wounds in vivo at the cellular level by characterizing cellular dynamics, collagen regeneration, vasculature reformation, and metabolic activity in skin. Joanne, who is pursuing her Ph.D. in bioengineering, plans to work with Wawrzyniec L. Dobrucki, Marni Boppart, and Stephen Boppart from the Bioimaging Science and Technology Group.

Aki Nikolaidis
Aki Nikolaidis is a doctoral student in neuroscience. His research focuses on how individual differences in the brain relate to learning and improvements in untrained tasks, also known as transfer. He plans to use tools from machine learning and network analysis on datasets from two large cognitive training studies to investigate how individual differences in brain structure, connectivity, and metabolism predict individual differences in learning and transfer of training to other cognitive domains. He is working with Aron Barbey, from the Cognitive Neuroscience Group, Arthur Kramer, of the Human Perception and Performance Group, and Paris Smaragdis, from the Artificial Intelligence Group.

Duc Nguyen
Duc Nguyen is a Ph.D. student in physical chemistry. His research interest involves using the ultrahigh stability scanning tunneling microscopes (STMs), developed by Lyding group at Beckman, to study surface glassy dynamics and single molecule absorption (SMA). By watching surface of glasses in real time with sub-nm resolution, he tests theories of glasses. He also studies SMA of quantum dots (QDs), carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and intermolecular energy transfer between QD and CNT on different surfaces using STM. Duc works with Martin Gruebele and Joseph Lyding, of the Nanoelectronics and Nanomaterials Group.

Saumya Tiwari
Saumya Tiwari is pursuing a Ph.D. in bioengineering. She plans to use infrared spectroscopy to develop detection systems capable of stainless and automated disease detection in situ, understand the mechanism of disease development, and develop algorithms for detecting outcomes based on patient data. She is working with Rohit Bhargava and Dipanjan Pan, of Beckman’s Bioimaging Science and Technology Group, as well as Sayeepriyadarshini Anakk, from the Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology, and KV Prasanth, from the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology.