Ten sophomores and juniors will conduct research with societal impact this summer as winners of this year’s Kenneth R. Lutchen Distinguished Fellowships. Drawing on their engineering knowledge and skills to improve society, their proposed projects target innovations in domains that range from clean energy generation to whale monitoring.
“The quality of all the candidates was outstanding, and the 10 fellows selected are all exceptional students who have demonstrated leadership and service above and beyond their studies,” said Associate Professor Robin O. Cleveland (ME), a member of the Lutchen Fellowship review committee. “The projects they have proposed are challenging and exciting, and capture the spirit of the College of Engineering, in which excellent engineering principles are applied to important societal problems.”
Three projects could lead to greater energy independence through more efficient oil extraction and clean energy generation. Samir Ahmed (EE ’13) seeks to exploit the unparalleled strength of graphene, a single-atom-thick layer of carbon, to manufacture a durable, nanoscale pressure sensor that could be used for oil extraction and carbon sequestration. Peter Girouard (ME ’12) aims to prove a concept of creating novel, nanoscale photo-anodes for photoelectrochemical hydrogen generation; and Jarrod Milshtein (ME ’13) plans to analyze the stability of solid oxide membranes used in the zero-emissions manufacturing of pure metals used in automobiles and solar cells.
Four Lutchen Fellows will pursue projects focused on improved healthcare and understanding of biological processes. David Berry (BME ’12) intends to develop a computer model of the vertebra, with the long term goal of developing a personalized and highly accurate diagnostic tool for vertebral fracture from clinically available imaging techniques. Katheryn Rothenberg (BME ’12) will apply a new technique for measuring cellular traction forces in order to gain a greater understanding of tissue formation and repair, tumor development, embryonic development and other cellular processes. Andrew Schiff (BME ’12) will study the interactions between selected umbilical cord cells that could yield new treatments for children born with congenital heart defects. Evegeni Aizenberg (EE ’12) proposes to develop an automated classification algorithm for diagnosing colon polyp pathologies based on endoscopic images of colon epithelial cells.
Finally, three new Lutchen Fellow projects involve automating processes for vastly different purposes. Kyle Jones (BME ’13) will attempt to develop automated synthetic biological techniques to be performed by a liquid-handling robot; Kam Lai (EE ’12) will develop an application of Kinect, a device that enables users to control and interact with the Xbox 360 via hand gestures; and Kara Silver (ME ’12) plans to develop and deploy an autonomous acoustic recording unit that can be used to locate endangered whales in remote areas.
Funded since 2010 by annual donations of $100,000 from an anonymous alumnus of the College’s Biomedical Engineering program, the program requires each fellow to identify a research project working with an engineering faculty mentor, and maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average.