8 CCNY Engineering Students, Grads Receive NSF Fellowships

Number sets record for Grove School of Engineering

Grove School of Engineering students – past and present – dominated the 2013 National Science Foundation Graduate Student Fellowship awards for The City College of New York this year. They garnered all eight fellowships conferred on CCNY graduating seniors and recent alumni.

Graduating seniors Ru Chen, Dane Christie and Jan Stepinski, and recent graduates Julius Adebayo Edson, Philip Liu, Arash Ramin Nowbahar, Aleksey Ruditskiy and Jake V. Vaynshteyn will receive the fellowships, which are the oldest and among the most highly prized awards supporting graduate study in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Since 2011, twenty CCNY current students and recent graduates have received NSF Graduate Student Fellowships.

“The achievements of these young researchers reflect their tremendous determination and talent, as well as the dedication of a faculty who put as much into their mentoring as they do into their research,” said CCNY President Lisa S. Coico. “The Grove School of Engineering has outdone itself, producing a crop of honored students who are a testament to the school’s growing prominence as a leader in engineering education.”

The fellowships recognize and support exceptional students who have proposed graduate-level research projects in their fields. Fellows receive an annual stipend of $30,000 plus a $10,500 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees, totaling $121,500 over three years. The award affords them opportunities for international research and professional development and gives them the freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education.

Senior Ru Chen, who will graduate with a major in chemical engineering and a minor in mathematics, plans to research early cancer detection and diagnosis. She will commence graduate study toward a PhD at the University of Delaware this fall.

For her NSF project, Ms. Chen proposes to design a novel device for a technique (microfluidic electrical flow field-flow fractionation) she plans to use to investigate how to best sort and detect biomarkers of cancer, which she intends to create using glycoproteins and antibodies that bind to them.

Her interest in the medical side of chemical engineering had its origins in her grandfather, who for many years was the sole doctor in the small valley in southern China where she grew up. His passing five years ago from brain cancer influenced her decision to conduct research to help battle this devastating disease.

Dane Christie, who also is a chemical engineering major, proposed to research methods to boost the efficiency of organic solar energy cells using assemblies of polymer films of a single molecule thickness. He will attend Princeton University in the fall.

Becoming a researcher is a world away from his life just a few years ago; he played baseball professionally in the Dominican Republic and was briefly in the Toronto Blue Jays organization before deciding to attend college.

Mr. Christie transferred to CCNY from Hostos Community College and worked in construction to help pay his way. At CCNY, he conducted research in the labs of Professor of Chemistry John Lombardi and Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering Ilona Kretzschmar.

For his NSF fellowship research, Jan Stepinski proposes to study the inversion problem for remote sensing with radar. Inversion refers to separating out and identifying individual properties of an environment from the jumble of data picked up by the sensing device. The researcher inverts the output data – or mathematically traces it backwards – to find out which components of the environment produced individual signals.

The CCNY Class of 2013 valedictorian, he will graduate with a BE degree in environmental engineering and minors in economics and mathematics. In the fall, he will join the Institute for Computational and Mathematical Engineering at Stanford University and work on radar remote sensing with Dr. Howard Zebker, professor of geophysics and electrical engineering.

Information about the research areas and graduate schools for the alumni awarded 2013 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships follows:

• Julius Adebayo Edson, ’12, is studying nanoengineering at the University of California, Irvine.
• Philip Liu, ’12, is studying chemical engineering at University of Texas.
• Arash Ramin Nowbahar, ’12, is studying chemical engineering at University of Washington.
• Aleksey Ruditskiy, ’12, is studying materials science and engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology,.
• Jake V. Vaynshteyn, ’09, currently a master’s student at the CUNY Graduate Center, will study neuroscience at Yeshiva University.

Jan, Aleksey and Philip were also students of the Macaulay Honors College at City College, which provides exceptional educational opportunities, advising and financial support, including a full-tuition merit scholarship, to students with top high school records and leadership potential.

Photos: Graduating chemical engineering seniors Dane Christie (L) and Ru Chen (R) join a field of other Grove School of Engineering students and alumni in winning 2013 NSF Graduate Student Research Fellowships. (2nd) Environmental engineering senior Jan Stepinski is a winner of the NSF graduate student fellowship in mathematics and the 2013 valedictorian.



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