The Fulbright U.S. Student Program has awarded grants to two Mellon College of Science graduates. Both are conducting research in Germany.
Jakkampudi, who graduated in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in physics (biological physics track) and a minor in biomedical engineering, earned a research award to study antimicrobial peptides at the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) in Hamburg, Germany. DESY is home to one of the largest centers for particle accelerators.
“At DESY I have the opportunity to utilize the world’s leading high-energy synchrotron to characterize the peptides’ structure and analyze interactions between the peptides and lipid model membranes to reveal possible bacterial-killing mechanisms,” Jakkampudi said.
She said that Germany was interesting for her because of its drive to lead international innovation in physics as well as Germany’s dedication to the health and well-being of its residents.
“I want to volunteer at a Hamburg clinic and explore how the German government sustainably runs their national health care program, so I can implement these practices through my nonprofit, Health Hub, to expand free access to health care to underserved communities across America,” she said.
Jakkampudi’s intended goal is to attend medical school and become a physician-scientist. She’s looking forward to further strengthening her research experience at DESY before matriculating to medical school.
Jakkampudi also was awarded the Dr. J. Paul Fugassi and Linda Monteverde Award, which goes to a graduating female senior in the MCS who has the greatest academic achievement and professional promise.
Stanislaw, who graduated in 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and a minor in German studies, will be conducting computational biology research in the Khmelinskaia Lab of the Life and Medical Sciences Institute of the University of Bonn.
Stanislaw, who is of German heritage and has been studying the language since high school, is “thrilled at the opportunity to do research in Germany, where my interests in biology research and German culture could align.”
Her research project will lay the foundations for an original platform to design two-component biosensors for detecting a molecule of interest, such as a viral antigen. Stanislaw said she plans to apply for doctoral programs in immunology or computational biology after her Fulbright experience.
“Although I do not have extensive hands-on lab experience because my undergraduate research was remote, I am especially thankful for the chemistry and biology laboratory courses at CMU,” Stanislaw said. “Though challenging, I believe these courses prepared me with the skills to learn quickly in a lab setting, taught me how to troubleshoot unexpected results, and introduced me to techniques that I will likely encounter during my research abroad.”
■ Heidi Opdyke
Two Mellon College of Science students, Shweta Gudapati and Khunpob Sereesuchart, received the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in recognition of their “impressive contributions to their fields and their vast potential to contribute much more throughout their careers,” said Richelle Bernazzoli, director of undergraduate research and scholar development.
Gudapati, a senior in the Integrated Master’s/Bachelor’s Program, is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences and a master’s degree in biomedical engineering.
“As an aspiring physician-scientist, my most meaningful activities are research and advocacy,” Gudapati said.
“Research is a such a powerful tool that can be used to advance patient care, and my experiences in the lab have shown me that translational research can be one of the most impactful ways to help your patients. Advocacy is also a powerful tool that physicians can use to drive policy change that will make new therapeutics more accessible to patients.”
Gudapati currently works in the lab of Tirthadipa Pradhan-Sundd at the Pittsburgh Heart, Lung and Blood Vascular Medicine Institute, studying the different proteins involved in diseases like sickle cell anemia, chronic liver disease and hemophilia.
Gudapati also uses her knowledge to mentor others and advocate for causes she believes in. She served as a peer mentor with CovEd, which helped K-12 students continue their education during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a volunteer advocate with RESULTS, which is a grassroots advocacy organization that encourages legislation to decrease poverty in the United States and around the world.
Sereesuchart is a senior who is simultaneously pursuing a bachelor’s degree in mathematical sciences with a minor in computer science and a master’s degree in mathematical sciences as part of the Department of Mathematical Sciences’ honors program.
Sereesuchart is passionate about his research with Professor Giovanni Leoni, which investigates the calculus of variations, partial differential equations and geometric measure theory. These techniques are used to investigate real-world objects based on their properties, like seeing how heat flows in solid metal based on where the heat is coming from.
“My area of research draws from a lot of fields of like analysis, which is my main focus,” Sereesuchart said. “It’s really good seeing all of these different pieces that don’t really look related fall into place.”
Sereesuchart also serves as a teaching assistant for Vector Analysis, which covers a range of topics, including Euclidean spaces and derivative maps. He enjoys helping his fellow students comprehend these complex concepts and working with them to explore their interests with the material.
Outside of his classes, Sereesuchart participates in Math Club activities, and he assists with the Carnegie Mellon Informatics and Mathematics Competition, an annual event for high school students.
■ Kirsten Heuring
graduate Student Awards
Yueying Ni, who earned her doctorate in physics, received the Guy C. Berry Graduate Research Award for her accomplishments while developing cosmological simulations to study supermassive black holes.
Ni has developed one of the largest cosmological simulations in her field, focusing on studying the growth and assembly history of supermassive black holes and their coevolution with galaxies over the cosmic history. Ni also developed artificial intelligence-assisted cosmological simulations that use neural networks to model the small-scale physical process in large cosmological simulations. This approach can greatly reduce the expense of simulations, and it provides a potential solution for the next generation of cosmological simulations that need to cover an even larger dynamic range over many different scales of the universe.
Ni has been an author on 15 peer-reviewed publications and a first author on eight with more papers currently in progress.
“Yueying is driven and determined,” said Ni’s advisor, Physics Professor Tiziana Di Matteo, director of the McWilliams Center for Cosmology. “I expect that her future work, as she moves to a prestigious fellowship at Harvard, will continue to have a major impact on the scientific community.”
Junichi Koganemaru, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, has received the Hugh D. Young Graduate Student Teaching Award. Koganemaru has been a teaching assistant for seven courses, and he has taught one summer course.
“When I can explain a concept that I understand decently well to someone else and have them understand it and see the beauty in it, I find that to be very gratifying,” Koganemaru said. “I really enjoy trying to pinpoint the right point of view so that the students can see what I see.”
According to teaching evaluations, Koganemaru’s students appreciate his effort and thoughtfulness both as a TA and as a teacher. He has been consistently rated between above average and excellent on evaluations, and students have specifically commented on his preparedness and dedication to their learning.
“While the Department of Mathematical Sciences has had several TAs win teaching awards in recent years, I feel that Junichi stands out,” said Dejan Slepčev, professor of mathematical sciences and director of graduate studies, who nominated Koganemaru for the award.
Outside of his teaching, Koganemaru is working on problems related to the free boundary incompressible Navier-Stokes equations.
■ Kirsten Heuring