Current Scholars

ARCS Foundation Pittsburgh is honored to present awards to outstanding scholars chosen by the scholar selection committee at Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pittsburgh and Penn State University.  A Pittsburgh Chapter Scholar receives $15,000 in support, payable over three years at $5,000 per year, or until the completion of his or her doctoral degree, whichever comes sooner,  provided the scholar maintains established criteria for continuation.

Third Year Scholars
Mason Donnell
Pittsburgh Chapter Award
University of Pittsburgh
School of Medicine
Cellular and Molecular Pathology
Personal: I auditioned for the Pittsburgh Bach Choir and currently sing as a Tenor for the performance art group. I also volunteer for the Pennsylvania American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and run a newsletter titled "The Justice Report," a bi-weekly report on national and state-level criminal justice reform. Aside from my community service, I am interested in the clinical benefits of diet, botanicals and exercise in the treatment and prevention of chronic disease. I enjoy hiking, meditating, and I regularly practice yoga.
Research: Within Dr. Tim Oury’s lab, I study the immunology of asthma and cystic fibrosis (CF). We are investigating the receptor for advanced glycation products (RAGE), which is highly expressed within the lung epithelium and regulates pathways of inflammation.
  • RAGE is a newly characterized pattern recognition receptor found to be most prevalent within the lung epithelium. Our investigations and others suggest RAGE is required for release of danger signals in inflammation, such as interleukin-33 (IL-33).
  • IL-33 subsequently activates innate lymphoid cells that express and release type-proinflammatory cytokines, IL-5 and IL-13. These cytokines lead to eosinophilic inflammation and mucus metaplasia in the lung. Both IL-5 and IL-13 are seen at high levels in infectious CF mucus biofilms. Though, how RAGE regulates this inflammation in CF has not been determined.
  • Elucidating these mechanisms will contribute to the understanding of the pathogenesis of not only CF, but other lung inflammatory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and asthma.

Awards/Recognition since becoming an ARCS Scholar:

  • The People’s Choice Award for my research at the Department of Pathology Retreat (2018).
  • Elected to be the Cellular and Molecular Pathology Representative for the Biomedical Graduate Student Association (BGSA) at The University of Pittsburgh. As the CMP Representative, I helped coordinate the annual BGSA Symposium and volunteered at the Mars Elementary School Science Fair.
Samuel Foley
The Hans and Leslie Fleishner Award
Carnegie Mellon University
Mellon College of Science
Physics
Personal: In my free time I enjoy exploring my new home city of Pittsburgh, spending time with fellow graduate students, and running.
Research: Biological Physics, specifically in theoretical and computational modeling of lipid membranes.
  • This includes coarse-grained molecular dynamics simulation of lipid bilayers, as well as methods from continuum-elastic (Helfrich) theory.
Stephanie Frisch
The McGough-Dunn-Unkovic Award
University of Pittsburgh
School of Nursing
Department of Acute and Tertiary Care
Personal: I love to travel the world. I enjoy running and doing anything outdoors. I also love to spend time with my growing family.
Research: Development of models for recognition and prediction of critical illness early in the disease course.
  • My current work consists of developing a new triage tool for emergency department patients using data mining and natural language processing.

Awards/Recognition since becoming an ARCS Scholar:

  • Pre-doctoral Fellow: T32 Technology Research in Chronic and Critical Illness
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation: Future Nurse Scholar  (received the same time as ARCS)
  • Emergency Nurses Association Foundation Grant
  • University of Pittsburgh: Newmeyer-Thompson Doctoral Student Award
Christopher Kottke
Pittsburgh Chapter Award
Carnegie Mellon University
Mellon College of Science
Theoretical Chemistry
Personal: When not performing research, grading, or doing homework I enjoy reading a good book with a hot cup of coffee. I am also a budding amateur cook and enjoy experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen. 
Research: Biological systems modeling, drug design, and machine learning.
  • My current research concerns computational modeling of biological systems. Specifically I am using molecular modeling to study the ion selectivity of ion channels in neurons.
  • I am also working on a project that models the physical forces involved in the motion of proteins; especially ion channels.
  • A new project is being pursued which attempts to extract causal relationships between the movements of proteins in simulations
  • These areas of research are significant to understanding the transport of materials into brain cells. This may aid in the delivery of medication to these cells for uses in treating neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Thomas Magelinski
Pittsburgh Chapter Award
Carnegie Mellon University
School of Computer Science
Societal Computing
Personal: I enjoy playing basketball, yoga, reading, hiking, and traveling.
Research: Computational analysis of social systems, currently focused on The Ukrainian Government.
  • Dynamic network analysis
  • Finding important politicians through their voting connections.
  • Grouping politicians to see who is really working together.
  • Legislative forecasting.
Gary Yu
The Burke-Harter Award
University of Pittsburgh
Swanson School of Engineering
Bioengineering
Personal: I enjoy growing succulent plants, going to the gym and reading in my spare time.
Research: Current standards for treating heart attacks inadequately remove clots in microvessels, resulting in poor patient outcomes.
  • My work involves developing the use of therapeutic ultrasound and injected lipid microbubbles to physically destroy microvessel clots and restore blood flow as a minimally invasive therapy.
  • I am also developing other clinical applications for this technology based on its ability to lower inflammation and oxidative stress, including peripheral vascular disease and sickle cell disease.
Awards/recognition since becoming an ARCS Scholar:
  • University of Pittsburgh Department of Bioengineering Bevier Award
  • Cardiovascular Bioengineering  T32 Training Grant
Second Year Scholars
Abigail Allen
The Pittsburgh Chapter Award
University of Pittsburgh
Swanson School of Engineering
Personal: I enjoy hiking and traveling to concerts throughout the Midwest.
Research: The role of profilin1 in migration and proliferation of cancer.
  • I am investigating over/under expression of profilin1 in renal cell carcinoma (RCC) using in vitro models.
  • Overexpression of profilin1 is correlated with poor prognosis in RCC.
  • Improving our understanding of how changes in profilin1 levels affect RCC progression may suggest novel therapeutic methods.
Michael De Zeeuw
The Pittsburgh Chapter Award
Carnegie Mellon University
College of Engineering
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Personal: I play the guitar and drums, and I was a percussionist in the Wind Ensemble at Calvin College. 
Research: Developing different cameras and imaging systems to solve complex imaging problems.
  • I am currently researching the application of a light-field camera to generate high-resolution reflectance maps of different objects in a scene, which can be used for fine-grain material detection of objects in the scene, among other things.
Kevin Edelson
The Martin-Ragni-Stover Award
Carnegie Mellon University
School of Computer Science
Robotics Institute
Personal: I enjoy listening to and playing music (guitar, piano, drums). I also enjoying playing hockey.
Research: I am researching robot autonomy for autonomous exploration and scientific discovery.
  • Researching high dimensional constrained planning to improve information gain
  • Developing methods for automatic data understanding
Stephanie Helman
The Pittsburgh Chapter Award
University of Pittsburgh
School of Nursing
Personal:  I am a mother of a vibrant 2 year- old little boy. In my free time, I enjoy entertaining and trying new recipes. 
Research: I will be investigating how temperature behaves in premature infants when their artificial heat source is disrupted. I hope to achieve the following: 
  • I will use premature infant temperature patterns during artificial heat disruption to predict the onset of cold stress and hypothermia.
  • I will investigate the short term and long term outcomes of cold stress and hypothermia in premature infants. 
Awards/recognition since becoming an ARCS Scholar:
  • Granted the Corrine M. Barnes scholarship through the University of Pittsburgh- School of Nursing
  • NIH T32 Technology Predoctoral Fellow 
Angela Hinchie
The Elliott-Hotopp Award
University of Pittsburgh
School of Medicine
Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program
 
Personal: I enjoy doing Alley Cat bike races in my free time, long hikes (but not camping), and traveling around new countries with no plans.
Research: Cardiovascular and metabolism research.
  • In my current laboratory rotation, I am studying the effects of adropin analogs on glucose metabolism, and looking at whether adropin treatment may be beneficial in cardiac ischemia and reperfusion.
Amber Horvath
The Heppner-Testoni-Thier Award
Carnegie Mellon University
School of Computer Science
Human-Computer Interaction Institute
Personal: The past two summers I traveled to Japan for 2 weeks. Both times it was absolutely incredible and I implore anyone else who has the means to go visit.
Research: I study application programming interface usability by investigating user’s mental models. These mental model investigations will allow us to design more intuitive interfaces for the underlying system. I am currently in the process of designing an interview study.
Deepa Issar
The Thomas-Pittsburgh Chapter Award
University of Pittsburgh
Medical Scientist Training Program
Personal: I play soccer and enjoy traveling.
Research: I study how neural activity and hemodynamic signals in the brain’s visual system are related to inform better diagnostics and treatment of brain disorders and injuries.
 
Eric Lopato
The Pittsburgh Chapter Award
Carnegie Mellon University
Mellon College of Science
Department of Chemistry
Personal: I speak German and French and have spent some time living in Germany and France.
Research: Using machine learning to understand photo-catalytic activity.
  • I am working on photo-catalyzed hydrogen evolution reactions in parallel, and using machine learning to identify a structure functional relationship in photosensitizers. 
  • These systems will allow us to produce clean hydrogen fuel using only sunlight. 

Awards/recognition since becoming an ARCS Scholar:

  • Joseph A. Solomon Memorial Fellowship
Adam Smoulder
The Pittsburgh Chapter Award
Carnegie Mellon University
College of Engineering
Department of Biomedical Engineering
Personal: Most of my free time goes to music:  I play drums, electric bass, and some ukulele.
Research: Revealing the structure of neural variability during motor learning.
  • I am analyzing experimental data to determine how different task contexts affect learning and neural variability.
  • These results hope to elucidate the role of neural “noise” in motor activity and may provide principles for accelerated neural rehabilitation and brain computer interface implementation in the future.

 

Sara Springer
The Bruschi-Hoffman-Wagner Award
University of Pittsburgh
School of Medicine
Center for Neuroscience
Personal: In my free time I read, write, and hike. I spent a lot of my younger life exploring caves and writing poems.
Research: Molecular, cellular and circuit-level dysfunction contributing to psychiatric disorder.
  • First year rotations have included studying gene silencing in a bipolar model, circuitry underlying OCD-related behaviors in mice, and GABA neurotransmission.
Kevin Stieger
The Gookin Family Foundation Award
University of Pittsburgh
Swanson School of Engineering
Department of Bioengineering
Personal: I enjoy rock climbing, hiking, snowboarding, and generally spending time outdoors.
Research: Mechanisms of electrical stimulation of the central nervous system.
  • I will be using in vivo multiphoton calcium imaging and electrophysiology to investigate how electrical stimulation affects neural and glial populations.
  • Investigating and characterizing the neurobiological response to electrical stimulation can help us learn more about neural circuits, movement disorders, and eventually develop implantable prosthetic devices to restore vision or somatosensation.

Awards/recognition since becoming an ARCS Scholar:

  • Department of Bioengineering Bevier Award
Zoe Wellner
The Fine Foundation Award
Carnegie Mellon University
Mellon College of Science
Mathematics in the Algorithm Combinstorics and Optimization program
Personal:  I enjoy painting and drawing and love to dance.
Research:  I work in topological combinatorics which simply put, means using shapes and symmetries to count things.
First Year Scholars

Additional information coming soon

Ayesh Abdullah

Carnegie Mellon University

Ryan Bowman
Carnegie Mellon University
Nathan Brantly
University of Pittsburgh
Serena Chen
Carnegie Mellon University
Jessica Davis
University of Pittsburgh
Giancarlo Gonzalez-Areizaga
University of Pittsburgh
Madeline Hagen

Carnegie Mellon University

Lisa Hong
University of Pittsburgh
Peter Manohar
Carnegie Mellon University
Srinivasa Pranav

Carnegie Mellon University

Andrea Sajewski

University of Pittsburgh

Hannah Schriever

Carnegie Mellon University

Felix Weilacher

Carnegie Mellon University