Current Scholars

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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

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 Crawford-Stockman Member Scholar Endowment 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.

Second Year Scholars

Usamma Amjad

The Carroll-Marshall Chapter Named Award
University of Pittsburgh

Swanson School of Engineering
Personal: 
Research: Building new high density arrays of implantable neural probes for monitoring multi-modal (i.e. chemical and electrical) neural activity over chronic timescales.

Georgia Atkins

The Elliott-Hotopp Chapter Named Award
University of Pittsburgh

School of Medicine
Personal: I enjoy running, yoga, playing with dogs, and trying different tea drinks at coffee shops. I am also new to Pittsburgh and look forward to living in a traditional, East Coast city for the first time.
Research:  I have a broad interest in the field of reproductive biology and hope to explore new areas within the male and female reproductive systems during my first-year rotations.

Nicole Auvil

The Patross- Pittsburgh Chapter Award
Carnegie Mellon University

Mellon College of Science
Personal: 
Research: Mass Spectrometry with environmental applications

Alice Cline

The Pittsburgh Chapter Award
University of Pittsburgh

School of Nursing
Personal: 
Research: Study racial disparities in maternal morbidity and mortality in the peripartum period, and ways in which technology can be used to bridge gaps in care and connect with communities at high risk for perinatal complications.

Michael Feffer

The Corey-Zawadzki Chapter Named Award
Carnegie Mellon University

School of Computer Science, Institute of Software Research
Personal: Exercising, reading, playing piano, watching TV and playing video games
Research: Using AI machine learning for art and music synthesis and analysis, examining and mitigating algorithmic bias, and using AI and machine learning to detect and ameliorate mental health issues like anxiety and depression.

 

Tianshu Huang

The Heppner-Thier-Stover Named Award
Carnegie Mellon University

Electrical and Computer Engineering Department
Personal: In those few moments when he is not working, he plays the piano and is interested in urban design and architecture.
Research: Plans to apply Machine Learning to embedded applications, and develop new methods to better suit embedded applications.

Katherine Johnson

The Nimick Forbesway Foundation Named Award
Carnegie Mellon University

College of Engineering
Civil and Environmental Engineering Department
Personal: In her spare time she enjoys performing in musicals, hiking, and spending time with her two cats. She also used to be a volunteer softball coach during undergrad. 
Research: Katherine plans to study reduced-complexity air quality models and their applications.

Carleen Markey

The Pittsburgh Chapter Award
Carnegie Mellon University

Mellon College of Science
Personal: Carleen has a hobby research career in women's hockey analytics. For anyone familiar with Moneyball, she is attempting to do a similar thing with women's hockey. She also loves cycling, sewing, road tripping, and checking out unique food spots.
Research: Currently, she is most interested in using machine learning to improve the amount of detail cosmological simulations give us and to speed up their run times.

Lauren Narbey

The Pittsburgh Chapter Award
University of Pittsburgh

School of Nursing
Personal: 
Research: From my personal experience, I see a need for more research in the first year postpartum and am particularly interested in exploring the implementation of a technology-based postpartum peer support group.

Olivia Parks

The Martin-Testoni Named Award
University of Pittsburgh

Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Research: Olivia is a MD/PhD student and plans on becoming a physician scientist neonatologist. She has a long-standing interest in neonatal infections and became intrigued by the fact that human metapneumovirus (HMPV) causes severe disease in the very young and the very old.
Personal: She is originally from Pittsburgh and also went to University of Pittsburgh for undergraduate studies. She loves Pittsburgh as a city and the vast opportunities for research at UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Dylan Sam

The Pittsburgh Chapter Award
Carnegie Mellon University

School of Computer Science, Machine Learning Department
Personal: In his spare time, he enjoys playing tennis and soccer. He also enjoys playing the viola.
Research: He expects to pursue research in statistical machine learning and machine learning with limited labeled data.

Kellie Spahr

The Bruschi-Hofman-Verghis Named Award
University of Pittsburgh

School of Medicine
Personal: In my spare time, I enjoy reading, playing the piano, fitness, and cooking. I also love traveling to new places. I’m new to Pittsburgh so I’m excited to explore the city!
Research: I’m interested in studying mechanisms of anti-tumor immune activation, with the goal of applying that understanding to the development of new immunotherapies for cancer. The knowledge that the experiments I perform in the lab today may contribute to better therapies tomorrow is what motivates me.

Alexa Vulgamott

The Catharine and John Ryan ARCS Pittsburgh Endowed Scholar Award
Carnegie Mellon University

Mellon College of Science, Biological Sciences Department
Personal: In my spare time, I like doing art and going to nature trails.
Research: Alexa plans to research intracellular trafficking.

Allison Wang

The Gookin Family Foundation ARCS Pittsburgh Endowed Scholar Award
Carnegie Mellon University

Mellon College of Science, Mathematics Department
Personal: 
Research: She expects her research interests at Carnegie Mellon to lie in mathematical logic and set theory.

Candace Williams

The Pittsburgh Chapter Award
Carnegie Mellon University

School of Computer Science, Human Computer Interaction Institute
Personal: 
Research: 

First Year Scholars

Lili Chen

The Jeanne B. and Richard F. Berdik ARCS Pittsburgh Endowed Award
Carnegie Mellon University
School of Computer Science, Department of Machine Learning
Personal: In my free time, I enjoy playing tennis and lifting.
Research: I am interested in building machine learning models that allow robots to adapt their behavior to a wide range of unfamiliar situations. I hope to scale up current approaches to robot learning, so that intelligent agents can achieve stronger generalization ability and be more reliably deployed in the real world.

Emmanuel Leon Colon
The Elliott-Martin-Meadowcroft-Testoni ARCS Endowed Scholar Award
University of Pittsburgh
Microbiology and Immunology
PersonalI love to spend my free time reading sci-fi novels, playing bass guitar and learning new cooking recipes. I also like going to restaurants and trying out new kinds of foods.
Research: My research interests involve elucidating the communication between the immune and enteric nervous system and how both contribute to promote protection against gastrointestinal pathogens. The findings of my research have the potential to enhance oral vaccine designs leading to better protection in children from low- and middle-income countries.
Camila Garcia
Rivers-Zawadzki-ARCS Pittsburgh Member Endowed Award
University of Pittsburgh
Swanson School of Engineering
PersonalI enjoy cooking and spending time with friends as well as drawing and dancing.
Research: I’m interested in researching how neurotransmitter flux plays a role in the circadian rhythms that regulate a homeostasis in the brain. For example, I want to explore how melatonin promotes the maturation of oligodendrocytes, thereby improving cell functionality. I seek to apply my knowledge towards the development of treatments and improvement of brain recording and stimulation techniques.
Anne Gormaley

The Pittsburgh Chapter Award
University of Pittsburgh
School of Computer Science
School of Engineering
Personal:  In my free time, I like to skateboard and work on creative projects to help grow the community of non-traditional skateboarders in Pittsburgh.
Research:  My research focuses on the development of neural interfaces that allow us to send and receive signals to and from the brain. I aim to develop novel tools to allow us to directly observe and understand the biological phenomenon occurring at the tissue-device interface.

Liliana Gutierrez
The Professor Virgil Gligor and Alicia Avery ARCS Pittsburgh Endowed Award
Carnegie Mellon University
Chemical Engineering
Personal:  In my free time, I enjoy gardening, painting, and playing the violin. I also love to explore parks and spend time in nature.
Research:  My undergraduate research project involved reconstructing marine to freshwater transitions in modern, tropical lake sediment using geochemical proxies. The results showed a possible connection to early human activity in the study region, which made me interested in studying and connecting paleoclimate records to modern climate change and anthropogenic influence in my graduate research. In a warming world where freshwater resources are vital, reconstructions of paleoclimate and early human influence from biogeochemical alterations of lake sediment can provide insight into how climate change can impact society and vice versa.
 
Emani Hunter
Crawford-Stockman ARCS Pittsburgh Member Endowed Award
University of Pittsburgh
Swanson School of Engineering
PersonalIn my free time, I enjoy reading, cooking, doing yoga, and spending time with family. I also love to travel and spend time around nature.
Research: My current graduate research is mainly focused on machine learning approaches to bioimaging modalities from both human and animal MRI and applying such approaches to aid in early diagnostics of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. With my research, I believe I would be able to bridge the gap between animal and human research work and guide the design of human studies in a more innovative way. The big picture impact of these studies is ensuring that individuals who are diagnosed early can receive the necessary support, therapy, and medical treatment that is available.
Samantha Nance
The Pittsburgh Chapter Award
Carnegie Mellon University
Mellon College of Science, Biological Sciences Department
Personal
Research: 
Giannina Ramirez
Endowed Scholar Award in Honor of Timothy F. Burke, Jr. and Linda Beerbower Burke
University of Pittsburgh
Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences
Personal: In my free time, I enjoy gardening, painting, and playing the violin. I also love to explore parks and spend time in nature.
Research: My undergraduate research project involved reconstructing marine to freshwater transitions in modern, tropical lake sediment using geochemical proxies. The results showed a possible connection to early human activity in the study region, which made me interested in studying and connecting paleoclimate records to modern climate change and anthropogenic influence in my graduate research. In a warming world where freshwater resources are vital, reconstructions of paleoclimate and early human influence from biogeochemical alterations of lake sediment can provide insight into how climate change can impact society and vice versa.