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Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Jugovich Selected for College of Engineering Award

Congratulations to ChBE undergraduate Nicole Jugovich who was chosen for the Lisle Abbott Rose Award from the University of Illinois College of Engineering. The award is given to a student who most nearly approaches the ideal of technical excellence combined with cultural breadth, depth, and sensitivity.

ChBE undergrad Nicole Jugovich

Through the Illinois Scholars Undergraduate Research program, Nicole has been a part of two research teams. As a sophomore, she worked with Assistant Professor Ying Diao’s group and this year she has been a part of Professor Brendan Harley’s lab. In Dr. Diao’s lab, she worked on optimizing a dropwise fabrication process for synthesizing organic semiconductor crystals. In Dr. Harley’s lab, she investigates hydrogel systems which will be used to create a complex, 3D cell-laden model to study brain cancer cells.

The undergraduate from Western Springs said her interest in engineering grew out of an “Introduce a Girl to Engineering” day at Argonne National Laboratory in seventh grade. At that event she met a nuclear engineer who spoke about her experience as a woman in engineering and the potential applications of clean energy.

“Alongside her scholarly discussion, her sense of humor changed my perception of the ‘stereotypical’ engineer. Meeting so many intelligent and independent female engineers truly inspired me and sparked my interest in pursuing a STEM field,” Jugovich said.

She continued to challenge herself with advanced math and science coursework throughout high school at Benet Academy in Lisle and sought out more STEM-related opportunities, including a summer engineering camp at the U of I.

At Illinois she has been a member of the Society of Women Engineers, where she serves as the special events coordinator after a year as the secretary of the organization’s information and marketing committee. She is also a group leader for the Engineering Ambassador Program, which involves organizing and presenting science topics to students in grades 3-12 to spark their interest in engineering.

Pictured above are cross-polarized microscope images of organic semiconductor crystals, which precipitated from solution. Nicole Jugovich’s research in the Diao group involved achieving a deeper understanding of how organic semiconductor crystals form and what causes them to adopt different characteristics. Organic crystal research can advance organic electronics, since organic semiconductor crystals can be produced at 1/20th of silicon’s cost.

Nicole has a passion for bringing together diverse groups of people to solve problems. As the daughter of a Lebanese immigrant, Jugovich has traveled to Israel as part of Passages, a program for Christian college students. There she heard lectures from Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, expanding her broad global views. This summer she will travel to China as part of the Hoeft Technology & Management Program, a partnership between the College of Engineering and the Gies College of Business. Jugovich plans to work in industry at the intersection of business and engineering. 

“Not only does the T&M program challenge students with rigorous coursework, but it also offers professional development workshops to build critical skills outside of the classroom. The unique lessons in mentorship, professional branding, and women in management have been especially helpful in my development as a rising professional,” she said.

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