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

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.

 

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
Leo 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 will be investigating the relationship between neonatal diet and adverse feeding outcomes for newborns with congenital heart defects. Specifically, I will be researching how the amount of human milk received relates to incidence of feeding tolerance, necrotizing enterocolitis, and malnutrition in infants with ductal dependent defects. I will also be exploring the association between neonatal diet, these adverse feeding outcomes, and neonatal guy microbiome composition.
 
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
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.

Second 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.

First Year Scholars

Usamma Amjad

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

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

JoAnn Patross Chapter Named Award
Carnegie Mellon University

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

Alice Cline

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

Verna Corey/Paula 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

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

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

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.

Dylan Sam

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

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

Ryan Endowed 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

Gookin Endowed 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

Pittsburgh Chapter Award
Carnegie Mellon University

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