PhD students Sarah Gleeson (advisor:Christopher Li) and Jessica Weaver (advisor: Andrew Magenau) are two out of three Drexel University PhD students selected as 2016 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP) awardees. Sarah also received, but has declined the Department of Defense National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship (DoD NDSEG).
Sarah and Jessica were selected from 17,000 applicants for the NSF fellowship and are two of 2,000 offered the award. The fellowship provides funding for three years of graduate stipend and tuition support, as well as opportunities to conduct research internationally. Sarah is one of nearly 200 students selected to receive this year’s NDSEG, which, similar to the NSF GRFP, provides three years of stipend and tuition support to students pursuing a doctoral degree in a DoD supported field.
Sarah’s current research in the Soft Materials Group focuses on developing a biomimetic synthetic bone material by controlling polymer crystallization onto electrospun fibers. This procedure creates a hierarchical structure called a nanofiber shish-kebab, which can be mineralized to form a composite material of bioceramic and polymer. She is currently working on a process for delivering drugs from the fiber cores so that they can not only replicate the function of bone, but also treat diseases or stimulate new bone growth in damaged areas. Sarah received her undergraduate degree from Case Western Reserve University in Biomedical Engineering and served as an AmeriCorps volunteer for a year before coming to Drexel for graduate school.
As a student in the Macromolecular Materials Group, Jessica studies novel bottlebrush architectures synthesized through controlled/living polymerizations. Molecular bottlebrushes give rise to fascinating properties and unusual morphologies inaccessible to classical linear polymers. Jessica’s aim is to explore new synthetic strategies to precisely control their molecular composition and assembly into well-defined macromolecular materials for potential applications in membrane and 3-D scaffolding technologies. Jessica earned her undergraduate degree in Chemistry in 2013 from Haverford College, where she used molecular dynamics to investigate nanoporous graphene membranes for industrial gas separations. She is passionate about increasing public awareness of scientific discoveries and is a "Science Now" Educator at the Academy of Natural Sciences.
A total of 15 students from Drexel’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering have received the NSF GRFP. Past recipients include PhD student Michael Ghidiu (advisors: Michel Barsoum and Yury Gogotsi), BS/MS student Emily Buck (advisor: Caroline Schauer), PhD student Chelsea Knittel (advisor: Caroline Schauer), B.S./Ph.D. student Amanda Pentecost (advisor: Yury Gogotsi), Ph.D. student Derrick Smith (advisor: Christopher Li), Ph.D. student Kristy Jost (advisor: Yury Gogotsi), B.S. student Prineha Narang (advisor: Yury Gogotsi), B.S./M.S. student Holly McIlwee (advisor: Caroline Schauer), M.S. student Alex Moseson (advisor: Michel Barsoum), and Ph.D. students Stephen Niezgoda (advisor: Surya Kalidindi), Kris Behler (advisor: Yury Gogotsi), María Pía Rossi (advisor: Yury Gogotsi), and John Chmiola (advisor: Yury Gogotsi).
Previous Drexel Materials recipients of the DoD NDSEG include Kristy Jost (advisor: Yury Gogotsi), Steven Spurgeon (advisor: Mitra Taheri), Stephen Niezgoda (advisor: Surya Kalidindi), and Thomas Juliano (advisor: Yury Gogotsi).
For more information about applying for the the NSF GRFP or NDSEG Fellowships at Drexel, please visit the Fellowships Office website or contact Dr. Meredith Wooten, Director, Drexel Fellowships Office.