Current Scholars

ARCS Foundation Pittsburgh is honored to present awards to outstanding scholars chosen by the scholar selection committee at Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh.  A Pittsburgh Chapter ARCS 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
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: Role of Profilin1 (Pfn1) in vascularization and vascular:immune interactions
  • I am investigating perturbation of Pfn1 in cancer and cardiovascular disease
  • Overexpression of Pfn1 may lead to poor patient prognosis
  • Improving our understanding of Pfn1 in vascular diseases may help us develop 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.

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
Carnegie Mellon University
Department of Bioengineering
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
Benjamin Weber
The Fine Foundation Award
Carnegie Mellon University 
Mellon College of Science 
Department of Mathematics
Research: Finding optimal investment strategies in stochastic market models, especially the effects of market frictions such as transaction costs or liquidy constraints. This will help to understandhow policies such as transaction taxes may impact the market. 
Second Year Scholars
Ayesha Abdullah

The Susan and Roy Dorrance Award
Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Institute of Technology, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Personal: Aside from academic and research pursuits, I enjoy playing video games, dabble in sketching and writing, and love playing tennis with my family when I visit.
Research: I study interactions in polymer-tethered nanoparticle systems. We characterize these pseudo-one-component particles in the dilute solution state and particle solids to understand polymer architecture and its effects on mechanical properties, thus elucidating interparticle interactions. Of particular interest is optimizing high inorganic filling fraction approaching the close-packed state with high elastic modulus, which are inversely correlated in brush particle solids.

 

Ryan Bowman
The Catharine M. and John T. Ryan, III ARCS Pittsburgh Endowed Award
Carnegie Mellon University
Mellon College of Science, Department of Biological Sciences
Personal: College Basketball, reading, writing, board games, video games
Research: Neuroscience, specifically microcircuits within the somatosensory system of mice.
Nathan Brantly
The Jeanne Berdik Founder Chapter Award
University of Pittsburgh
Swanson School of Engineering, Rehab and Neural Engineering Labs, Department of Bioengineering
Research: I study intracortical brain-computer interfaces with the goal of restoring arm and hand function to individuals with tetraplegia
Serena Chen
The Jeanne B. and Richard Berdik ARCS Pittsburgh Endowed Scholar Award
Carnegie Mellon University
School of Computer Science, Department of Computer and Information Sciences, Software Research/Software Engineering
Erica Principe Cruz

The Pittsburgh Chapter Award
Carnegie Mellon University
School of Computer Science
Human-Computer Interaction Institute
Personal: In my free time, I enjoy hiking with my dog, Indiana, playing video games, and teaching traditional Filipino folk dance. I also enjoy learning new languages, both computer and human.
Research: I study how computer-mediated games and immersive experiences can be designed to empower marginalized individuals. This research involves how play can provide not only enjoyment but also offer new experiences and perspectives. Currently, I am iteratively developing and evaluating a game designed to help undergraduate women of color studying STEM form and utilize peer networks for community-based help-seeking.

Jessica Davis
Fromm / Payne Pittsburgh Chapter Award
University of Pittsburgh
School of Nursing
Personal: Human milk/breastfeeding, nutrition, and the clinical applications of omics for medically vulnerable infants and children.
Research:  I intend to investigate the role of human milk and breastfeeding in outcomes for infants with congenital heart disease. Specifically, I would like to research how an exclusive human milk diet contributes to feeding tolerance and prevention of necrotizing enterocolitis in infants with single ventricle cardiac physiology.
 
Giancarlo Gonzalez-Areizaga
The Leonard B. and Helen P. McCully Fund of The Pittsburgh Foundation Award
University of Pittsburgh
School of Medicine
Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program
Madeline Hagen

The Gookin Family Foundation ARCS Pittsburgh Endowed Award
Carnegie Mellon University
Mellon College of Science, Department of Physics
Research: I analyze the data from the GlueX experiment at Jefferson Lab to measure the cross-section of producing a cascade and anti-cascade particle pair in a collision.

Lisa Hong
The Beukema-Wainwright-Wood Award
University of Pittsburgh
School of Medicine, Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program
Personal: I enjoy reading, video games, exploring nature and Pittsburgh, and playing music.
Research: I am investigating the mechanism behind synergistic synthetic lethality of triple negative breast cancer using the drugs: FDA approved PARP inhibitors and nitroalkenes. This project will provide information on the pathway of PARP inhibitor resistance and how the novel nitroalkenes will overcome it.
Peter Manohar
The Susan and Roy Dorrance ARCS Scholar Award
Carnegie Mellon University
School of Computer Science
Computer Science/Information Science
Personal: I play two instruments: violin and piano. I also enjoy reading books and playing/watching soccer.
Research: I am broadly interested in Complexity Theory and Cryptography, specifically in topics such as probabilistically checkable proofs, property testing, coding theory, the sum-of-squares hierarchy, and high-dimensional geometry. In addition to theoretical research, I am also interested in using a theoretical lens to solve applied problems with real-world impact.
Srinivasa Pranav

The Professor Virgil D. Gligor and Alicia M. Avery ARCS Pittsburgh Endowed Scholar Award
Carnegie Mellon University
College of Engineering
Electrical and Computer Engineering
Research: Machine Learning in the Internet of Things. I am studying how autonomous Internet of Things devices can cooperatively use machine learning to make more intelligent inferences and predictions.

Andrea Sajewski

The Meadowcroft-Mooney-Stockman Award
University of Pittsburgh
Swanson School of Engineering, Department of Bioengineering
Personal: I enjoy doing ballet and playing the flute, spending time with family and friends, and going to shows in the Cultural District.
Research: I am developing a novel radiofrequency transmit coil for use in ultra-high field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The primary application will be in 7 Tesla neuro MRI, where we will be able to see fine features of the brain.

 

Hannah Schriever

The Susan and Roy Dorrance ARCS Scholar Award
University of Pittsburgh
School of Medicine, Department of Computational Biology

Felix Weilacher

The Susan and Roy Dorrance ARCS Scholar Award
Carnegie Mellon University
Mellon College of Science, Department of Mathematical Sciences
Personal: I am interested in Bird Watching, although I have not done much since moving to Pittsburgh.
Research: My research is in descriptive combinatorics. I am especially interested in what the discrete combinatorics of an object (e.g. a graph) can tell us about its Borel or measurable combinatorics.

First Year Scholars
Jenelle Collier

The Pittsburgh Chapter Award
University of Pittsburgh

Center for Neuroscience (CNUP)
Personal: I am a Christian and deeply rooted in faith. I enjoy playing Basketball, listening to music, watching and reading Sci Fi & Marvel, and motivating others.
Research: Neurodegenerative diseases and environmental factors that accelerate neurodegeneration

Calvin Gang

The Pittsburgh Chapter Award
Carnegie Mellon University

Chemistry
Personal: Board games & running
Research: The development of a methodology that utilizes hierarchical machine learning to elucidate the underlying physico-chemical factors that guide the design of new polymers.

Robert Hall

The Sokolow-Zelkovic Award
University of Pittsburgh

School of Medicine 
Interdisciplinary Biomedical Graduate Program
Personal: I enjoy playing soccer and basketball, hanging out with friends, and watching sports
Research: I have a deep interest in neuropathology and neuropharmacology, in particular the mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease. In my current rotation, I am studying amyloid-beta aggregates and their role in neurotoxicity.

Taryn Imamura

The Unkovic-Pittsburgh Chapter Award
Carnegie Mellon University

Mechanical Engineering
Nanotechnology Department
Personal: Fitness, Hiking, Meditation, Trying new and delicious food, Reading science fiction/fantasy novels, Playing the guitar/ukulele, Travel
Research: The development of a hybrid top-down, bottom-up manufacturing process for microswimmers using DNA origami.

Daniel Jeong

The Pittsburgh Chapter Award
Carnegie Mellon University

School of Computer Science
Computational Biology Department
Personal: I enjoy playing basketball, traveling, and playing video games.
Research: I am interested in developing statistical machine learning methods for solving key problems in computational genomics and healthcare.

Michelle Karabin

The Dunn-Loeber-Townsend Award
University of Pittsburgh

Swanson School of Engineering
Department of Bioengineering
Personal: I was a collegiate track and field athlete during my undergraduate career, and am still very interested in the sport. I am involved in coaching youth athletes and still enjoy running and weight training myself. I also love playing the piano and reading.
Research: I am studying the role of balance control in locomotion in daily life by using biomechanical models. My research is mainly focusing on aging populations and those with balance disorders.

Megan Kazakoff

The Burke-McGough Award
University of Pittsburgh

School of Nursing
Personal: I love to ski, hike and watch scary movies in my spare time. I have just recently moved to Pittsburgh so I also enjoy exploring new parts of the city.
Research: I am currently working as a Graduate Student Researcher under Dr. Cecelia Yates. In this lab we are studying the role of chemokine modulation in the extracellular matrix of patients with Scleroderma in order to study their effects on fibrosis and tissue remodeling. I plan to study the fibrosis pathway involved with pressure ulcer formation in order adults in order to investigate routes of prevention.

Karina Kraevesky-Phillips

The Jewish Healthcare Foundation
University of Pittsburgh

School of Nursing
Personal: I enjoy working in critical care, and in my free time I like to bake, play the viola and go on hikes.
Research: Mobile health and palliative care integration in heart failure self-management

Joanna Slusarewicz

The Fleischner-ARCS Pittsburgh Member Endowed Award
Carnegie Mellon University

Engineering and Public Policy
Carnegie Institute of Technology
Personal: I enjoy board games, video games, drawing, and writing poetry and short fiction.
Research: I am researching the impacts of recent changes in EPA emissions regulation. In doing so, I want to estimate the impacts of emissions monitoring on plants’ emitting behavior and determine what factors, including organizational characteristics, predict the direction and magnitude of behavior change.