Published: April 24, 2024 By

NSF LogoThe National Science Foundation has bestowed three prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship Program awards to University of Colorado Boulder mechanical engineering graduate students.

The national awards recognize and support outstanding grad students from across the country in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees.

PhD students Reegan Ketzenberger, Caleb Song, and Jennifer Wu are each receiving the honor for 2024. Find out more about their research below.

Awardees receive a $37,000 annual stipend and cost of education allowance for the next three years as well as professional development opportunities.

Two mechanical engineering PhD students, Alex Hedrick and Carly Rowe, also received honorable mentions from the National Science Foundation program.

2024 GRFP Honorees

Reegan Ketzenberger

Fall 2024 Incoming PhD Student

As a recent graduate of the materials science & engineering department at the University of Michigan, I became interested in materials for renewable energy after working as a summer R&D intern at a hydrogen electrolysis company as well as conducting energy justice research with Dr. Sita Syal at U-M throughout the school year. At CU Boulder, I look forward to pursuing research in the field of electrochemistry and energy storage throughout my graduate studies. Traditional methods of hydrogen production such as coal gasification and natural gas steam reforming rely on fossil fuels, but electrolysis, the reaction that involves splitting water with an electric current to produce hydrogen and oxygen, offers a clean alternative. My proposed research project seeks to understand the impact of porosity and tortuosity of sintered titanium porous transport layers on titanium passivation and in situ mass transportation limits in proton exchange membrane electrolyzers.

Caleb Song

2nd Year PhD Student

Advisor: John Pellegrino
Lab:  Membrane Science & Technology

I did my undergrad in Electrical Engineering at Georgia Tech before coming to Boulder for my PhD in Mechanical Engineering. For the past two years, I've been working on the characterization, tuning, and scale-up of graphene-based membrane electrodes (grMEs). The funding from the GRFP will allow me to pursue low technology readiness level (TRL) electrochemical device development using these grMEs. In particular, I plan on exploring hybrid electrophoretic/size exclusion-based separations for biopharmaceutical development and processing.

Jennifer Wu

Fall 2024 Incoming PhD Student

Advisor: Daven Henze
Lab: Henze Group

My research will involve using computer simulations and environmental observations to investigate the impact of atmospheric constituents on air quality and climate change. By coupling satellite observations with state-of-the-art air pollution models, I aim to provide more accurate estimates of emissions to better inform climate and public health policy. Previously at Caltech, I worked closely with scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in analyzing methane and carbon monoxide measurements in the Los Angeles Basin.