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Christian Tabedzki HeadshotChristian Tabedzki | IIE-GIRE Fellow 2019
IIE-GIRE Fellow at Le Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), France

Home Institution: University of Pennsylvania
Home Faculty Advisor: Robert Riggleman, Associate Professor
IIE-GIRE Research Project: Engineering structure of bottle-brush polymer electrolytes for next generation solid state-batteries
Field of Study: Chemical Engineering
Christian Tabedzki is a third year PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania in chemical engineering. He holds a Bachelor of Science in chemical engineering from Rutgers University. His research focuses on the self-assembly of liquid-crystalline block copolymers and of grafted nanoparticles inside lamellar diblock copolymers.
His project will focus on the self-assembly of bottle brush diblock copolymers, a unique architecture that reduces entanglements between chains, simplifying processing. Currently, the chemistry/structure/property relationships for these materials remain elusive.  Understanding how these materials self-assemble, and how hidden variables that affect self-assembly, is significant in order to be able to develop defect-free membranes for batteries that combine mechanically stiff polymers with conductive polymers.


Trang Vu HeadshotTrang Vu | IIE-GIRE Fellow 2019
IIE-GIRE Fellow at Amsterdam University Medical Center (AUMC), The Netherlands

Home Institution: Rowan University
Home Faculty Advisor: Jiwook Shim, Assistant Professor
IIE-GIRE Research Project: Improving Liquid Biopsy Using Nanopore Technology Sequencing
Field of Study: Biomedical Engineering
Trang Vu is fourth-year Ph.D. student and a NJ Governor’s STEM Scholar in the Biomedical Engineering department at Rowan University. She completed her bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering at Rowan University in 2016. Under the direction of Dr. Jiwook Shim, her graduate research focuses on constructing biological nanopore assays, and devising novel strategies to study and detect biomolecular markers of cancer.
Her project focuses on developing a novel nanopore sequencing pipeline for liquid biopsy samples, specifically to study tumor-derived cfDNA and detect cancer biomarkers. Compared to the traditional surgical biopsy, liquid biopsy is less invasive, improving the patient’s quality of life, while offering a more reliable detection of tumors and mutations over time with longitudinal sampling. It is significant because the success of this project could reduce the time required to process and analyze liquid biopsy samples from weeks currently to less than 2 days.


Jesse Mark HeadshotJesse Mark | IIE-GIRE Fellow 2019
IIE-GIRE Fellow at the Center for Information and Neural Networks, Osaka University, Japan

Home Institution: Drexel University
Home Faculty Advisor: Hasan Ayaz, Associate Professor
IIE-GIRE Research Project: Neuroadaptive Training and Neurostimulation to Enhance Learning
Field of Study: Biomedical Engineering
Jesse Mark is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, Science, and Health Systems at Drexel University. He is doing his dissertation research in the burgeoning field of neuroergonomics, the study of the brain at work in natural environments, under the supervision of Dr. Hasan Ayaz.
His project is about studying changes in the brain associated with learning when people are exposed to different types of training. They will use fMRI to look at brain activation and functional connectivity while subjects are in a flight simulator and compare those who are given standard lessons based on their performance with those who progress to different levels based on their mental workload or effort. In addition, they will also apply external electric stimulation to half the subjects to explore the effects of neuromodulation. The significance of this project extends far beyond just aviation education, because the adaptive training protocols developed to enhance learning from our findings can apply to any type of task where difficulty can be dynamically adjusted. Their goal is to create a generalizable system using adaptive training with neuroimaging that can be applied to any type of learning.


Olivia Ngo HeadshotOlivia Ngo | IIE-GIRE Fellow 2019
IIE-GIRE Fellow at University of Glasgow, Scotland

Home Institution: Drexel University
Home Faculty Advisor: Peter Lewin, Richard B. Beard Distinguished University Professor
IIE-GIRE Research Project: Macrophage Phenotype Transition as the Biological Mechanism of Low-frequency (20 kHz), Low-intensity (100 mW/cm2) Therapeutic Ultrasound
Field of Study: Biomedical Engineering
Olivia Ngo’s thesis work is to determine the role of macrophage phenotype as the biological mechanism of therapeutic low-intensity (<100mW/cm2), low-frequency (20kHz) ultrasound mediated healing that has been shown to significantly accelerate chronic wound closure in pilot clinical studies. Chronic wounds currently affect approximately 6.5 million patients in the United States and an excess of 25 billion dollars is spent annually on treatment. Current standards of care for chronic wounds, including months of weekly re-dressings and debridement, fails to guarantee active wound healing or closure.


Jesse Roll HeadshotJesse Roll | IIE-GIRE Fellow 2019
IIE-GIRE Fellow at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, India

Home Institution: Purdue University
Home Faculty Advisor: Xinyan Deng, Associate Professor
IIE-GIRE Research Project: Gust Mitigation in Flapping Wings
Field of Study: Mechanical Engineering
Jesse Roll is a PhD candidate at the School of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV) in Mechanical Engineering and Master’s degree from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. His research interest is in the aerodynamics of flapping wings, principles of animal locomotion, and the development of bio-inspired robotic systems. He is the recipient of the Ingersoll-Rand Fellowship and Ward A. Lambert Graduate Teaching Fellowship from School of Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University. His collaborative work on the design and control of a flapping wing robots as a summer researcher with the Air Force Research Lab at Wright Patterson Air Force Base lead to the development and patent of a scalable electromagnetic actuator for underactuated robotic systems. Working in a highly interdisciplinary field, his work has been published in a diverse range of scientific journals, including Royal Society Interface, Biology Letters, and IEEE Transactions on Robotics.


Darrin Schultz HeadshotDarrin Schultz | IIE-GIRE Fellow 2019
IIE-GIRE Fellow at The Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, Russia
Home Institution:
University of California Santa Cruz and Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Home Faculty Advisors: Dr. Richard Green and Dr. Steven Haddock
IIE-GIRE Research Project: Engineering Novel Bioluminescent Proteins
Field of Study: Deep-Sea Biology, Biomolecular Engineering, and Bioinformatics
Darrin Schultz is a PhD candidate in the Biomolecular Engineering and Bioinformatics department at the University of California Santa Cruz, and is a graduate researcher at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. After completing his BA at Oberlin College, he was a US Student Fulbright Fellow at Nagoya University in Japan where he studied the phylogenetics and biochemistry of bioluminescent animals in East Asia.
Darrin's doctoral research aims are to learn more about the evolution and bioluminescence biochemistry of deep sea animals, to develop novel bioluminescent systems into useful molecular tools for biomedical and neuroscience research, and to write novel genome assembly software to enhance our ability to study invertebrate organisms.
As an IIE-GIRE scholar Darrin hopes to bioengineer several novel light-emitting enzymes from deep-sea plankton into markers suitable for use in model organisms. This research will provide a low-cost alternative to the proprietary industry standards for luminous protein intracellular markers.

Jessica Taylor HeadshotJessica Taylor | IIE-GIRE Fellow 2019
IIE-GIRE Fellow at University of Sydney, Australia
Home Institution:
Iowa State University
Home Faculty Advisors: Cristina Poleacovschi, Iowa State University and Michael Perez, Auburn University
IIE-GIRE Research Project: Standardized and Contextual Infrastructure Adaptation Framework: linking strategies and capacities of Alaska Native and Torres Strait Communities
Field of Science: Civil Engineering
Jessica Taylor is a Ph.D. student in Civil Engineering at Iowa State University. Originally from California, I graduated from California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo with my B.S. in Environmental Engineering and minor in Science, Technology, and Society. Her work brought her to Iowa State University (ISU) as a doctoral student, where shes focused on understanding the factors that support and limit the ability of rural communities to respond to environmental risks, such as flooding and erosion, that impact infrastructure. At ISU, her work and passions have become intertwined through her research in community-centered resilience planning. Her passion for understanding the intersectionality of engineering, society, and policy was fostered through her involvement in Cal Poly's Engineers Without Borders Student Chapter and work for the California State Water Quality Control Board.

Hannah Cebull HeadshotHannah Cebull | IIE-GIRE Fellow 2019
IIE-GIRE Fellow at University of Cape Town, South Africa
Home Institution:
Purdue University
Home Faculty Advisor: Craig Goergen, Associate Professor
IIE-GIRE Research Project: Predicting Effects of Valve Lesions in Rheumatic Heart Disease Patients
Field of Science: Biomedical Engineering
Hannah Cebull’s project will focus on creating computational models for simulating the effects of valve lesions using CT and cardiovascular magnetic resonance image data of hearts and aortic valves from patients with rheumatic heart disease (RHD). This disease causes over 300,000 deaths per year, primarily affecting low- to middle-income countries, specifically in sub-Saharan Africa. Current treatments for this disease are lacking, particularly regarding the treatment of aortic valve lesions caused by RHD. They will estimate wall shear stresses, turbulent kinetic energy, and particle residence time. The results will then be further compared to patient outcomes, allowing us to determine if computational modeling can be used for clinical prediction and to better inform physicians when to surgically intervene. In addition, this work will be important for further increasing awareness and funding to this less explored area of cardiovascular research.

Alex Hsain HeadshotAlex Hsain | IIE-GIRE Fellow 2019
IIE-GIRE Fellow at Technische Universität Dresden, Germany
Home Institution:
North Carolina State University at Raleigh
Home Faculty Advisor: Jacob Jones, Professor
IIE-GIRE Research Project: Flexible Oxide Capacitors for High-Energy Density Wearable Electronics
Field of Science: Materials Science
Alex Hsain is a Ph.D. student, NSF GRFP Fellow, and 2017 Truman Scholar studying Materials Science & Engineering. Hsain’s research aims to enable the next generation of low-powered electronics by studying promising lead-free, HfO2-based ferroelectric materials. Ferroelectrics are an inversion symmetry-breaking class of materials that possess a spontaneous polarization that can be switched by an external electric field. This property allows ferroelectrics to store memory without an external power source and can be used in a wide suite of consumer electronics. Hsain fabricates ferroelectric films via Atomic Layer Deposition in a clean room environment and utilizes the Analytical Instruments Facility (AIF) at NC State to characterization their properties. She uses techniques such as X-Ray Diffraction, X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy, and Piezoresponse Force Microscopy to probe the atomic structure of HfO2 films. In concert with her scientific curiosities, Hsain is also passionate about STEM education and science policy. She is co-founder of NC State’s SciBridge, an organization that builds lesson plans and experiment kits on sustainable energy topics and ships them to partner universities in East Africa, and co-founder of SciPolPack, a science policy advocacy group in collaboration with the National Science Policy Network (NSPN).

Sarah Libring HeadshotSarah Libring | IIE-GIRE Fellow 2019
IIE-GIRE Fellow at Netherlands Cancer Institute, the Netherlands
Home Institution:
Purdue University
Home Faculty Advisor: Luis Solorio, Assistant Professor
IIE-GIRE Research Project: Developing Output Metrics for a Precision Drug Screening Platform to Target Metastatic Breast Cancer
Field of Science: Biomedical Engineering
Sarah Libring is a Ph.D. student in Biomedical Engineering at Purdue University under Dr. Luis Solorio. Sarah Libring received her B.S. in biomedical engineering from Rutgers University in 2017 with minors in packaging engineering and sociology. As an undergraduate, she researched in a chemical engineering computational lab and a biomedical engineering wet lab where she modeled the aggregation dynamics of polymer-functionalized virus capsids for drug delivery and studied the mechanical and biochemical properties of a scaffold for ACL regeneration, respectively. Sarah also participated in REU programs at UT Austin and Purdue University.
Her current research focuses on understanding metastasis and drug resistivity of breast cancer cells, particularly through cell-matrix interactions. She is currently exploring the dynamic role of intracellular, soluble, and fibril fibronectin in the disease progression. Sarah is passionate about translating precision medicine research into clinically-relevant solutions. She is a recipient of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute fellowship for Pre-Doctoral Training in Translational Research (CTSI TL1).

Alex Breitweiser HeadshotAlex Breitweiser | IIE-GIRE Fellow 2019
IIE-GIRE Fellow at TU Delft, The Netherlands
Home Institution:
University of Pennsylvania
Home Faculty Advisor: Lee Bassett
IIE-GIRE Research Project: Nuclear Spin Defects for Quantum Memory
Field of Science: Quantum Physics
Alex is a third year PhD student in the Department of Physics at the University of Pennsylvania. After receiving his Bachelor's in Mathematics from the University of Chicago and Master's in Physics from New York University, he joined the lab of Lee Bassett in the Electrical Engineering department at UPenn. Alex's cross-disciplinary research focuses on optically active spin-defects in solid-state materials and their application to emerging quantum communication and computation technologies.

Sara Fleetwood HeadshotSara Fleetwood | IIE-GIRE Fellow 2019
IIE-GIRE Fellow at Adolphe Merkle Institute, University of Fribourg
Home Institution:
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Home Faculty Advisor: E. Johan Foster, Associate Professor
IIE-GIRE Research Project: Controlled production of cellulose nanocrystal microfibers through the confinement in a microfluidic device
Field of Study: Materials Science and Engineering
Sara Fleetwood is a first-year PhD student researching and developing stimuli-responsive, bio-inspired, bio-based polymer materials. She holds a BS in Materials Science and Engineering from Virginia Tech and formerly worked in industry as a Product Development Engineer, designing and testing ropes. Her current project, sponsored by IIE-GIRE and in collaboration with the Adolphe Merkle Institute, involves the fabrication and characterization of anisotropically-oriented cellulose nanocrystals as building blocks for polyurethane microfibers. In her free time, she enjoys surveying and mapping unexplored cave passages, for various governmental agencies.