Students awarded NSF Graduate Research Fellowships


Congratulations to Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering students who have been awarded National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships!

Launched in 1952, the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship program is the nation’s oldest and largest fellowship program for graduate students. It is also one of the most prestigious.

This year Danielle Harrier, ChBE PhD student with Dr. Damien Guironnet’s research group, was awarded a fellowship. Two members of Dr. Brendan Harley’s lab—ChBE senior Elijah Karvelis and MatSE grad student Marley Dewey—were awarded fellowships. Kevin Cheng, a Biophysics graduate student and member of Dr. Diwakar Shukla’s lab, also won the fellowship.

Harrier’s research with Assistant Professor Guironnet focuses on the development of a strategy to synthesize biodegradable polymer latex by emulsion ring opening polymerization.

“The technical challenge of this approach is to perform the water sensitive polymerization in an aqueous media. Therefore, the innovative aspect of my strategy is that I will utilize microfluidics techniques to encapsulate the catalyst in a hydrophobic nanoreactor and thus protect it from water,” she said.

Harrier completed her undergraduate studies at the University of New Mexico and began the PhD program in Chemical Engineering in Fall 2017.

“The research at U of I is at the forefront of understanding and solving current global issues, and I am excited to add to the breadth and depth of research being done by my PI, Professor Guironnet, by furthering research in sustainable polymers,” she said.

Elijah Karvelis graduates this May and plans to pursue a PhD. He is currently deciding between three schools.

His project in the Harley lab has been on developing biomaterial platforms for studying brain cancer, specifically leveraging microfluidics to look at invasion of cancerous cells.

The NSF awarded honorable mentions to ChBE graduate students Isamar Pastrana-Otero (Kraft Lab), Bijal Patel (Diao Lab) and Whitney Sinclair (Kenis Group).