Dragons on Fire: Kudos for Student Achievements

Students have earned scholarships and fellowships and received awards in the last term.
Stock image of a lab with microscope in foreground

Last term, Drexel University undergraduate and graduate students were recognized for their academic and professional contributions and accomplishments. This update offers a snapshot of activity courtesy of the Office of the Provost.  

Want to learn more about opportunities for scholarships and fellowships? There’s Drexel’s Undergraduate Research & Enrichment Programs (UREP), which also serves graduate students applying for fellowships.  

Scholarships and Fellowships

The Nina Henderson Provost Scholars program, made possible with support from Nina Henderson, Chair of the Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees, welcomed three new Scholars to its 2022–2023 cohort, joining 10 returning Scholars. The new Scholars are Satvik Tripathi, BS computer science ’26 from the College of Computing & Informatics; Ali Youssef, BS/MS student ’24 from the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems; and Alyssa Kemp, BS/MS Environmental Engineering ’25 from the College of Engineering. Nina Henderson Provost Scholars work alongside the Provost and Senior Provost’s Office leadership to advance key priorities of the Drexel 2030 Strategic Plan and collaborate on strategic projects.  

Dimitra Thomopoulos, MS ’19, PhD nutrition sciences from the College of Nursing and Health Professions, placed third out of 183 graduate student entrants in the Brain and Behavior Division of the American Associate for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) ePoster competition. She has also been selected as a recipient of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation Commission on Dietetic Registration Doctoral Scholarship. This scholarship provides $10,000 for the recipient to use for academic expenses for the 2022–2023 academic year.  

Yousif Alqenai, PhD civil engineering ’24 from the College of Engineering, has been selected by the American Coal Ash Association Educational Foundation (ACAAEF) to receive the David C. Goss Scholarship in the amount of $5,000. A number of excellent candidates submitted applications and essays for this scholarship. Following rigorous review by the ACAAEF Scholarship Committee, Alqenai’s submittal was deemed to be one of the best.   

Tanner Mearns, BS civil engineering ’23 from the College of Engineering, was awarded the Moles Annual Scholarship for the academic year 2022–2023 in the amount of $12,500 from the Moles Charitable Fund.   

Dot Pallanes, a fashion design student in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design, is the recipient of the 2022 Gucci Changemakers North America scholarship. Pallanes won a $20,000 scholarship and spent six weeks working with Gucci professionals and other Gucci Changemaker Scholars over the summer. Pallanes' final case study was on styling in the metaverse. 

Abigail Tetteh, a doctoral biomedical engineering from the School of Biomedical Engineering, Science and Health Systems, received an FDA-sponsored fellowship to do a one-year internship at the Office of Science and Engineering Laboratories to support their 3D printing activities. The fellowship will fund Drexel for the year to cover Tetteh’s tuition, stipend and living expenses in Maryland while she works and is mentored at FDA. 

Sarah Malik, PhD mechanical engineering ’24 from the College of Engineering, was accepted to attend the highly selective Rising Stars in Mechanical Engineering Workshop, hosted in October at Stanford University. Malik joined approximately 30 other PhD students and postdocs who identify as women for the career development program. The workshop supports women considering careers in academia by providing skills workshops, networking and mentoring opportunities.   

Tara Fortino, a molecular and cell biology and genetics doctoral student, and Nicholas Stachowski, a neuroscience doctoral student, both from the College of Medicine, were awarded F31 predoctoral fellowships from the National Institutes of Health. Fortino’s project is “Tailoring Neural Transplants for Cervical Spinal Cord Repair,” and Stachowski’s is “Post-SCI Effects of BDNF and Epidural Stimulation on Inhibitory RORb Interneurons.”

Academic Accolades and Other Achievements

Several Drexel College of Computing & Informatics students, alumni and faculty published research in the 85th Association for Information Science and Technology Annual Meeting and The Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) 2022 Annual Conference. Deanna Zarrillo, PhD candidate, with Erjia Yan, PhD, associate professor of information science, and Mat Kelley, PhD assistant professor of information science, presented their paper “Collecting Diachronic Affiliation Data for Faculty at HBCUs Using Memento.”  

Abby Mayer, a communication, culture and media doctoral student from the College of Arts and Sciences, co-authored a paper, “Framing and Word Choice in Childhood Obesity Reduction-Focused Advertising,” in the Journal of Managerial Issues, examining the effects of specific obesity descriptors and the overall message framing on reactions to advertising seeking to reduce childhood obesity rates and promote healthier behavior.   

Liz Espinal, clinical psychology doctoral student in the College of Arts and Sciences, was awarded the International Neuropsychological Society (INS) Memory and Memory Disorders Research Award at the INS Annual Meeting.

Nichole O’Neill, a chemistry doctoral student in the College of Arts and Sciences, was awarded best poster at the 7th Conference on Vibrational Optical Activity in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada for her abstract entitled “Investigating the Nanostructure and Fibril Axis of GxG Crystalline Fibrils Using Amide I Vibrational Spectra Simulations.” 

Katy Locke, a fourth-year MD student in the College of Medicine, published a review article, “Respiratory Plasticity Following Spinal Cord Injury: Perspectives from Mouse to Man,” in the October 2022 issue of Neural Regeneration Research. The paper’s coauthors were College of Medicine alumni Margo A. Randelman, PhD neuroscience ’21, and Lana Zholudeva, PhD neuroscience ’18, and Michael Lane, PhD, associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy in the College of Medicine, as well as a colleague from the University of Florida.     

Lorena Melendez-Chavez, MPH ’23, and Sarah Dilday, MPH ’23, both from the Dornsife School of Public Health, completed Title V Maternal and Child Health (MCH) Block Grant internships in August 2022. The Title V program is a partnership between the federal government and states aimed at promoting the health and wellbeing of mothers, children and families.  

Annette DeSipio, JD Law ’23 from the Kline School of Law, was named one of the winners of the 2022 Student Writing Competition Awards from the American College of Employee Benefits Counsel.  

Shaily Panwar, BSBA business analytics & finance ’24 from the LeBow College of Business, and a Drexel Libraries Information Explorer, presented an interactive session called “Debunking Climate Change & Sustainability Social Media Myths” as part of the Drexel Libraries’ student-run ScholarSnack event series on Sept. 29. More than 20 students, faculty and staff attended the hybrid event, which was held online via Zoom and in person in the Dragons’ Learning Den in the W. W. Hagerty Library. 

Abishek Kumar, PhD digital media ’23, became the first student in the Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design to defend a doctoral dissertation. Kumar’s dissertation is entitled BEAPS: Incorporating shape dynamics in virtual agents focusing on customizing the mesh for pose space actions. 

Yaseen Ahmid, BS supply chain management and logistics, finance and business analytics ’23 from the LeBow College of Business, received his Black Belt Lean Six Sigma certification from the International Association for Six Sigma Certification, becoming the youngest South African to hold the certification at age 22. He is also currently the youngest Black Belt from the continent of Africa.

Yaseen Ahmid, BS supply chain management and logistics, finance and business analytics ’23; Shishir Gururaj MS supply chain management and logistics ’23; and Charul Bajaj, MS business analytics ’23, all from the LeBow College of Business, placed second in the Global Supply Chain Case Competition, hosted by the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business. 

Karena Escalante, an education doctoral student from the School of Education, had her article, “Bridging Multilingual Families and Schools: Brokering as Social Justice and Leadership Justice,” published in the Journal of Family Diversity in Education. Escalante was a co-author of the article with Vera Lee, EdD, clinical professor in the School of Education, and Barbara Hoekje, PhD, professor in the College of Arts and Sciences.  

Erica Martinez, BS elementary education from the School of Education, was selected by the school to lead its summer Literacy Camp as the site director. Martinez organized camp activities and managed relationships with parents at the camp that was hosted at the Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships.