10 engineering students awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Ten outstanding students in the College of Engineering were recognized for their research and potential by the National Science Foundation. Top row, from left: Alexander Myers, Autumn Deitrick, Daniel Shoemaker, Kanembe Shanachilubwa and Lucy Spicher. Bottom row, from left: Madison Reddie, Johnathan Vicente, Nate Osikowicz, Gaby Sallai and Greggory Murray. Credit: ProvidedAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Ten students in the Penn State College of Engineering were awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships (NSF GRFP) for their potential to make significant contributions toward scientific innovation and teaching.

This cohort includes current graduate students and undergraduate students who will soon be pursuing a graduate degree. 

The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees. The fellowship, which is the oldest fellowship of its kind, is meant to embolden the next generation of American scientists and support diversity among their ranks, according to the NSF website

“We are so proud of this exceptional group of students,” said Justin Schwartz, the Harold and Inge Marcus Dean in the College of Engineering. “As promising young researchers, these students are already inspiring change and impacting tomorrow. We look forward to seeing what else they accomplish!”

Aerospace engineering 

Nate Osikowicz

Osikowicz, a student studying aerospace engineering, is a Schreyer Scholar in the Integrated Undergraduate-Graduate Program. With the support of his adviser, Puneet Singla, associate professor of aerospace engineering, and researchers at the Control and Analysis of Stochastic Systems (CASS) Lab, Osikowicz is currently developing the control laws to articulate a bio-inspired tensegrity robotic arm. After completing his master’s thesis in the summer of 2021, Osikowicz will attend the University of Colorado to pursue his doctorate on aerial autonomy. He hopes to design autonomous agents that can make safe and intelligent decisions in uncertain atmospheric conditions. 

Civil engineering 

Autumn Deitrick

Deitrick, an undergraduate studying civil engineering with a focus in water resources engineering, is a 2020 Barry Goldwater Scholar and Schreyer Honors Scholar. She will be pursuing a doctoral degree in applied ocean science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Joint Program to investigate how aquatic plants, such as mangroves, mitigate climate change by trapping carbon-rich sediment in their soil. 

Mechanical engineering 

Greggory Murray

Murray, a graduate student studying mechanical engineering, works in the Gait Optimization (GO) Lab with Anne Martin, the Martin W. Trethewey Early Career Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering. His research focuses on human gait modeling and analysis for the purposes of designing exoskeleton and prosthesis controllers.

Alexander Myers

Myers, an undergraduate student studying mechanical engineering, will be attending Carnegie Mellon University to pursue a doctorate focused on additive manufacturing. At Penn State, he works under Tak-Sing Wong, the Wormley Early Career Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering. Myers devoted his research energies to the bio-inspired engineering of new materials and coatings.

Madison Reddie

Reddie graduated in December 2020 with a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering. At Penn State, she worked with John Carroll, distinguished professor of information sciences and technology, and Matt Parkinson, professor and director of the Bernard M. Gordon Learning Factory in the College of Engineering. She will pursue a graduate degree at MIT, focusing on using an ethnographic approach to develop methods of co-designing with communities in the developing world to improve living conditions and empower underserved people. 

Gaby Sallai

Sallai, a graduate student studying mechanical engineering, works with Catherine Berdanier, the Clyde W. Shuman Jr. and Nancy Shuman Early Career Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering. Sallai’s research focuses on using a mixed methods approach to characterize the landscape of mental health from the perspective of engineering graduate students. Specifically, she is interested in how students define mental health and their experiences with and access to mental health resources within their graduate institutions. She is also pursuing a deeper understanding of how definitions and experiences with mental health are the same or different for engineering graduate students from traditionally underrepresented populations, such as women and gender non-conforming students.  

Kanembe Shanachilubwa

Shanachilubwa, a graduate student in mechanical engineering, also works with Berdanier on engineering education. He investigates the reasons and patterns that surround engineering doctoral attrition. Before arriving at Penn State, Shanachilubwa earned a bachelor of engineering at Harding University. 

Daniel Shoemaker

Shoemaker, a graduate student studying mechanical engineering, completed his undergraduate studies at Penn State and continued his work in pursuit of a doctoral degree. He researches subcontinuum scale electro-thermal interactions within gallium nitride power amplifiers for 5G networks. To realize a next-generation 5G network, improved gallium nitride-based radio frequencies are needed. Currently, extreme localized heating in these devices shorten their lifespan and reliability. Supported by Sukwon Choi, the Kenneth Kuan-Yun Kuo Early Career Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Shoemaker aims to experimentally study the subcontinuum scale electro-thermal energy conversion and transport mechanisms that leads to the formation of nanoscopic hotspots within these devices. 

Lucy Spicher

Spicher, an undergraduate student studying mechanical engineering, worked with adviser John Gershenson, director of the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship program. Her undergraduate research focused on applying key factors of design for desirability within the human-centered design process and product development of 3D-printed occupational therapy products for patients in rural Kenya. She will attend the University of Michigan to pursue her doctorate in mechanical engineering. 

Johnathan Vicente

Vicente, an undergraduate student in mechanical engineering, conducted a research project alongside Berdanier. They examined how engineering students consider ethical values and justify career decisions in the engineering profession. He also earned the Outstanding Undergraduate Research Achievement Award from the Penn State Center for Engineering Outreach and Inclusion, and the Thomas Briggs Hunter Memorial Award for Student Leadership from the Department of Mechanical Engineering. After graduation, Vicente will pursue a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University.


Last Updated April 28, 2021