Sixteen undergraduate and graduate students from the College of Engineering and Applied Science have earned prestigious Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation.
Most of the students will use their awards to continue their PhD or master's research at CU Boulder, while the two undergraduate recipients will use theirs to begin their graduate studies at other highly regarded universities.
“These fellowships truly are an incredible and powerful opportunity to explore research topics that inspire them personally,” said Associate Dean for Research Massimo Ruzzene. “We are thrilled to celebrate this exciting news with the students and their families, and I can’t wait to see where they go from here.”
The NSF Graduate Research Fellows Program supports outstanding students in STEM disciplines who are pursuing graduate education at accredited U.S. institutions. Fellows receive a three-year annual stipend of $34,000, tuition and fee support, and opportunities for international research and professional development.
My research will focus on wideband, mmWave antennas for classical and Simultaneous Transmit and Receive (STAR) applications. The applicability of tightly coupled arrays, array thinning, and machine-learning driven reconfigurability will be explored for current 5G needs and future spectrum expansions as well.
My research develops educational toys to help visually impaired children and members of their support network (family members, friends, educators) collaboratively learn Braille. I work in the classroom with visually impaired elementary school students, parents, and teachers, to build tools that integrate with current classroom and at-home Braille literacy education practices. My tools emphasize tangible learning and often use physical elements, like blocks, to build tactile perception and spatial awareness.
Department: Electrical, Computer & Energy Engineering
Advisors: Xudong Chen, Marco Nicotra
Lab: Robotics, Optimization, and Constrained Control (ROCC) Lab
My current research focuses on the topic of Optimal Formation Control of On-orbit Systems. In particular, my work focuses on achieving and maintaining fuel-and-measurement optimal formations with groups of cooperative satellites such as GRACE and MMS. This research applies tools from Multi-Agent, Optimal, and Geometric control theory, and involves significant collaboration with the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) and the CU Boulder Aerospace Department.
My lab focuses on advancing the performance of a type of artificial muscle (soft actuator) called HASELs. HASELs (Hydraulically Amplified Self-healing ELectrostatic actuators) are liquid-filled plastic pouches that are partially sandwiched between soft electrodes. HASELs undergo a shape change much like contracting muscle when an electric field is applied across the electrodes. My research aim is to investigate different plastic options that enhance the shape-changing abilities of HASELs, and to do this I study the effects of charge accumulation within plastic films under high voltage conditions.
My research seeks to utilize functional mechanical responses in liquid crystal elastomers (LCEs). LCEs are a special class of materials that exhibit interesting, anisotropic physical properties. I primarily seek to exploit the unique mechanical properties of LCEs for applications such as flexible electronics and soft robotics. I have recently demonstrated omnidirectional, localized, nonlinear deformation in these materials via special processing methods. Currently, I seek to push the limits of electromechanical actuation in LCEs as an approach to realize untethered soft robotic systems. This effort will produce lightweight material actuators capable of rapid response times necessary for these systems.
Department: Applied Mathematics
Advisor: Aaron Clauset (Computer Science, BioFrontiers)
I'm applying mathematical and computational techniques toward understanding complex social systems -- in particular, the scientific ecosystem. I'm interested in quantifying the forces that shape scientific careers, and modeling the ways that large-scale structure arises from the interactions of many heterogeneous scientists over time.
Department: Applied Mathematics
Advisor: Colleen Reid (Geography)
I am a graduating senior. In fall 2020 I will start a PhD program in biostatistics in the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. For the last three years, I have worked with Dr. Reid using data science to research the health impacts of air pollution. My work has involved using statistical tools both to improve spatiotemporal estimates of air pollution levels and to investigate associations between air pollution exposures and respiratory and cardiovascular health outcomes such as asthma, COPD, and pneumonia. In graduate school, I will be training under the guidance of some of our nation's experts in environmental biostatistics and epidemiology. I anticipate working on developing methods to estimate health impacts from multiple exposures and to improve uncertainty quantification for both exposures and health impacts.
Throughout my time at CU Boulder, I will be researching a new approach to constructing trajectories in multi-body systems using roadmap generation and dynamical systems theory. Designing a feasible and efficient trajectory in a chaotic environment is a complex process that is time-consuming for a human, requires an adequate initial guess, and expert knowledge of the environment. By the end of my graduate studies, my goal is to develop a new approach that will support mission planning in cislunar and deep space via autonomous trajectory design. Ultimately, I want to help expand the capabilities of space exploration by enabling advanced missions to complex destinations.
My PhD research focuses on solving the spacecraft operations scheduling problem using both classical optimization techniques and reinforcement learning to enable spacecraft autonomy in the Earth-observing and small-body domains. I am particularly interested in bridging the gap between these two fields, exploring the trades between the two in solving complex spacecraft planning problems. Furthermore, I am interested in how these computationally intensive planning algorithms can be implemented onboard spacecraft. In addition to optimal spacecraft planning, I am also interested in studying how supervised learning techniques can be applied onboard spacecraft to better predict resource usage during spacecraft plan execution, reducing constraint violations and replanning efforts.
My research is focused on analyzing the unsteady aerodynamics associated with cycloidally rotating airfoils (CRA), which are commonly found in vertical axis wind turbines (VAWTs). This research includes carrying out a progressive experimental study of an isolated CRA to better characterize complex flow phenomena, such as dynamic stall. Upon completion of the experimental phase, I will focus upon developing a theoretical model of the observed behaviors in pursuit of applying this knowledge to enhance renewable energy systems such as VAWTs or wave energy converters.
Department: Smead Aerospace
Advisor: Marcus Holzinger
Lab: Vision, Autonomy, and Decision Research Lab (VADeR)
During my time as a graduate student at CU Boulder I plan to research methods of reachable set computation. Specifically, I am interested in developing techniques to improve the speed, versatility, and accuracy of the current sample-based method for computing reachability subspace surfaces. Reachable sets allow an end-user to determine the optimal final states of a dynamical system given the initial set of states, a feasible control input, and a time horizon. Ultimately, my goal for this research is to develop methods for computing reachable sets that can be used to transfer the task of decision-making from humans to autonomous systems.
My current research investigates whether the application of galvanic vestibular stimulation (GVS) in training scenarios can improve vestibular performance. We are exploring if the use of GVS may be implemented to enhance small motion perception and overall performance in functional mobility and manual control tasks for pilots and astronauts. GVS may have benefits for individuals on Earth as well, improving balance and performance, for example, in elderly individuals who otherwise may be at a higher risk for falls. I hope to utilize my research in Bioastronautics at CU Boulder to support human spaceflight for long-duration exploration missions. I am also passionate about translating the research and work we do in the space industry to benefit life on Earth.
Department: Chemical & Biological Engineering
Advisor: Kristi S. Anseth
Intestinal organoids are self‐organized, 3D tissues that are typically derived from stem cells, grown in a matrix and capture key functional, structural, and biological complexity of the organ from which they are derived. This unparalleled biomimicry holds great promise as a means to study organogenesis and disease, screen drug candidates, personalize medicine, and supply tissue for transplantation. While organoids provide an unparalleled architectural and functional complexity, this sophistication is also responsible for the high variability and lack of reproducibility of uniform crypt‐villus structures. To address this, we propose to develop dynamic, user-directed hydrogel scaffolds for adult intestinal stem cells and use them to study and optimize their expansion, colony formation, and differentiation to form organoids. Once a synthetic scaffolding system is developed, I am interested in applying the platform to test hypothesis related to mechanosensing and various gastrointestinal diseases.
Department: Environmental Engineering
Advisor/Lab: TBD at Stanford University
My research interest is focused on alternative water management strategies, notably the development of decentralized water treatment technologies and how these technologies may be monitored, managed, and adapted remotely to promote long term resiliency and compliance with regulation. Decentralized water management systems can collect, treat, dispose, or reuse wastewaters near point-of-use and are increasingly becoming more economically feasible, less prone to accidents, and one of the most promising approaches for improving water management in urban areas. Through this research study, I plan to develop a set of design guidelines for future wetland roof construction to maximize reclaimed greywater quality and quantity.
My PhD research focuses on solar thermal splitting of water and carbon dioxide for renewable fuel production. I look at discovering new materials capable of splitting gas at high temperatures (> 1000°C) and optimizing reaction conditions.