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.
Andrew Bower is a doctoral candidate in electrical and computer engineering. He will continue working with Stephen Boppart, Liang Gao, and Parijat Sengupta of the Bioimaging Science and Technology Group to develop a high-speed, label-free optical metabolic imaging system and to use this platform to study metabolic processes within living cells in highly dynamic environments including the study of cell death dynamics as well as neuronal activity.
Zhikun Cai is a doctoral student in nuclear engineering. His research at Beckman is with Yang Zhang, from the Autonomous Materials Systems Group, and Martin Gruebele, from the Nanoelectronics and Nanomaterials Group. They are interested in studying nanoscopic confinement using extensive molecular dynamics (MD) simulations and relaxation-excitation mode analysis guided by experimental neutron scattering measurements to improve the understanding of protein behaviors in vivo; to engineer the protein energy landscape by restricting the conformation space; and, hopefully, to develop new catalytic applications and preservation techniques.
A doctoral student in bioengineering, Hassaan Majeed, plans to investigate differences in collagen structure in breast tissue biopsies obtained from different patient groups, using spatial light interference microscopy (SLIM). SLIM is a label-free microscopy technique that has been used in the past for quantitative histopathology on prostate, breast and colon cancer. He will work with Andre Balla, director of Transdisciplinary Pathology at University of Illinois at Chicago, Kimani Toussaint Jr., and Gabriel Popescu, of the Bioimaging Science and Technology Group at Beckman.
Shachi Mittal is a graduate student in the Department of Bioengineering, working in the Chemical Imaging and Structures Laboratory supervised by Rohit Bhargava. She collaborates with Narendra Ahuja, of the Intelligence, Learning, and Plasticity Working Group, Dipanjan Pan, of the Bioimaging Science and Technology Group, and Andre Balla, director of Transdisciplinary Pathology at University of Illinois at Chicago, to utilize infrared spectroscopic imaging along with advanced machine learning tools to develop automated cancer diagnostic platforms that are easy to translate in clinics.
Timothy Moneypenny, a doctoral candidate in materials chemistry, plans to fabricate solid-state lithium electrolyte nanocomposites (SSLENs) derived from porous molecular cages (PMCs), in collaboration with Jeff Moore and Yang Zhang, of Beckman’s Autonomous Materials Systems Group, Andrew Gewirth and Ralph Nuzzo, professors of chemistry. His goal is to advance current technology toward the realization of all solid-state lithium ion batteries.
Matthew Moore plans on completing a highly interdisciplinary project capitalizing on expertise in cognitive neuroscience, engineering, social psychology, and business to address important questions regarding brain function. A doctoral student in psychology, Moore plans to combine methods of high-spatial resolution (functional magnetic resonance imaging and event-related optical signal [EROS]) and high-temporal resolution (EROS and electroencephalography/event-related potential), to clarify the spatio-temporal aspects of neural processing associated with cognitive, affective, and social decision-making tasks. He is working with Florin Dolcos, from the Social and Emotional Dimensions of Well-Being Working Group, Brad Sutton, from the Bioimaging Science and Technology Group, Monica Fabiani, and Gabriele Gratton, from the Mechanisms of Cognitive Control Working Group, and Sanda Dolcos, a lecturer in the Department of Psychology.
Nitya Sai Reddy Satyavolu
A doctoral student in chemistry, Nitya Sai Reddy Satyavolu will work with Yi Lu, from the 3D Micro- and Nanosystems Group, and Liang Gao, Jefferson Chan, and Jianjun Cheng, from the Bioimaging Science and Technology Group, to develop novel DNA-functionalized nanomaterials that can be employed as photoacoustic imaging (PAI) agents with much higher contrast and selectivity for a broad range of targets than those used today. By broadly merging two very distinct fields, namely DNA nanotechnology and a clinically emerging imaging modality, PAI, this project will ultimately combine the advantages of both areas to produce a new generation of PAI contrast agents for a much more effective platform for biomedical diagnostics and imaging.