The National Science Foundation is honoring six current or incoming University of Colorado Boulder mechanical engineering students with Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) awards and one student with an honorable mention. Out of 12,000 applicants nationwide, 2,000 students were selected, 24 of which are students attending CU Boulder. Students selected who are associated with the CU Boulder Department of Mechanical Engineering include Emily Hannah, Catherine Haslam, Austin Hayes, Brandon Hayes, Brian Johnson, Rachel Marbaker and Olivia Mcintee. Andrew Yeang received an honorable mention.
The NSF GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based graduate degrees. As the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, the GRFP has a long history of selecting recipients who achieve high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers. The reputation associated with the GRFP follows recipients for years to come and often assists them in becoming life-long leaders that contribute significantly both to scientific innovation and teaching.
Emily Hannah earned her BA in engineering sciences from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire in 2016. While at Dartmouth she was an NCAA Division I cross-country skier. After graduation, she moved west to Bozeman, Montana where she worked building LIDAR lasers at Bridger Photonics and as the assistant coach for Montana State University’s cross-country ski team. Originally from Steamboat Springs, she returned to Colorado in 2018 to begin her PhD work in the Lab of Greg Rieker. Emily’s research is focused on measuring the effects of turbulent air on the propagation of lasers.
In Professor Se-hee Lee's lab, Catherine works on solid electrolyte materials for lithium-ion batteries, a technology that could eventually replace the liquid electrolyte inside today's lithium-ion batteries. Through her research, she hopes to make lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and electronic devices smaller and safer.
Advisor: Greg Whiting
Lab: Boulder Experimental Electronics and Manufacturing Laboratory
Research: Using 3D printing to create lighter cheaper and stronger wind turbine generators
Austin is originally from Aurora, Ohio. He completed his joint BS/MS degree in mechanical engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology focusing on combining boiling heat transfer with 3D printing. Choosing mechanical engineering to explore renewable energy, he completed an internship at the National Renewable Energy Lab which furthered his passion for renewable energy. His research focusses on using 3D printing to create lighter, cheaper and stronger wind turbine generators, reducing the cost of wind energy.
In his free time, Austin can be found in the pool or exploring all nature has to offer.
Advisor: Rob MacCurdy
Research: Integrating active electrical components from multimaterial 3D printing with microfluidic devices
Brandon is a PhD student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. His background is in biomedical engineering and microelectronics engineering, but he chose to study mechanical engineering as a graduate student. Brandon's interests are in multi-physics problems. Specifically, he is interested in integrating active electrical components from multimaterial 3D printing with microfluidic devices.
Outside of research, he is an avid swimmer and loves exploring different places.
Brian Johnson is a first-year mechanical engineering PhD student working in the Advanced Medical Technologies Laboratory under Dr. Mark Rentschler. His research focuses on "soft robots," robots made of soft and squishy materials rather than stiff metal robots most people see on manufacturing floors or in science fiction. The squishy nature of soft robots makes them well-suited for human-robot interaction, such as in medical robotics or manufacturing. Within the realm of soft robotics, Brian is interested in control theory and sensor design.
As an awardee of the NSF GRFP, Brian looks forward to advancing his research in controllable soft robotic surfaces and sensory skins. These technologies have applications in manufacturing, defense, medical devices, and much more.
Brian is originally from Binghamton, New York, and earned a BS in mechanical engineering from Cornell University. Outside of his research, Brian is an avid landscape photographer and traveler and is excited to capture the natural beauty of Colorado. Some of his other hobbies include baking, martial arts and playing the piano.
As an incoming student at CU Boulder, Rachel is looking to combine her interests in smart material actuators and textiles with rehabilitation biomechanics to further research in the Neuromechanics Laboratory. She believes the motion of smart material actuators can be harnessed to mimic or modify musculoskeletal motion and may also provide haptic feedback during rehabilitation training. The smart materials may also offer valuable sensing capabilities to better characterize and understand the processes behind motion patterns. Previously, at Lafayette College she worked to develop and apply measurement tools for shape memory alloy textiles, and at University of Delaware, she worked on a project investigating split belt treadmill training paradigms for stroke rehabilitation.
Beyond the lab, she loves to run, row and explore the intersections between art, mathematics, medicine, and engineering through printmaking and writing.
Advisor: Victor Bright
Lab: Multi-Disciplinary Engineering Microsystems Group (MEMS)
Research: Measuring the mechanical properties of ultrathin films to improve performance of reverse osmosis membranes in order to expand access to clean water
Olivia's research is about developing ways to overcome the challenge of measuring the mechanical properties of ultrathin films. One application of ultrathin films she is exploring is the use of atomic layer deposition (ALD) to improve the performance of reverse osmosis membranes for desalination. The mechanical properties of ALD films are critical for the lifetime and filtration of the reverse osmosis membranes. Her goal is to improve the performance of reverse osmosis membranes in order to expand access to clean water for people all over the world.
Outside of my research, Olivia enjoys hiking, biking, running, backpacking and any activity that includes enjoying the beautiful Colorado sunshine.