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Student Profiles

Emily Ballantyne ’17, Honors

Mechanical Engineering

Emily Ballantyne is a Mechanical Engineering student with an interest in biological applications of her studies. Emily began her coursework at Drexel in the Biomedical Engineering program, but changed her major following her second co-op. Currently, she is conducting research with Dr. Hisham Abdel-Aal of the Mechanical Engineering Department to investigate the surface properties of snake skin.

Emily’s practical experience ranges from a large company summer internship at DEKA Research & Development, to a 6-month co-op with a medical device start-up, to academic research: she co-oped at Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile in Santiago on a Whitaker International Undergraduate Scholarship in 2014. Working under Dr. Daniel E. Hurtado, she assisted in the computational biophysics and biomechanics lab on a project aimed at quantifying lung strain using Finite Element Methods. 

Pennoni Honors College Accolades

  • Honors Program student
  • Honors Program Alternative Spring Break Trip, Rocky Mount, N.C., 2013
  • Work study, Drexel Fellowships Office
  • Recipient, Whitaker International Scholar, 2014-15
  • Recipient, travel award from Pennoni Honors College

Nathan Tessema Ersumo ’17, Honors

BS/MS Biomedical Engineering

A BS/MS Biomedical Engineering student, Nathan Tessema Ersumo has worked extensively in three research labs, contributing to multiple projects including one on organs-on-chips, microchips which carry human cells and constitute model systems for various organs. An avid multiculturalist and supporter of academic collaborations, Nathan is currently a member of Dr. Kara Spiller’s laboratory at Drexel University and is focusing on the emerging field of 3D bioprinting, a process which produces biological constructs by 3D printing cells embedded in scaffolds. Scheduled to pursue academic collaborative efforts abroad this upcoming spring and recently selected to be a member of Drexel’s Student Philanthropy council, Nathan hopes to foster unity and partnerships both within and outside of Drexel. 

Pennoni Honors College Accolades

  • Honors Program student
  • Selected to present at the 2015 Colonial Academic Alliance Undergraduate Research Conference hosted by the Office of Undergraduate Research

Maura Jarvis ’16

Sustainable Product Development

There is not a single product that we consume in today's world whose supply chain does not impact the environment. In too many cases, this impact is negative and we do not understand, or even see, what implications our consumption habits have on the world around us. In Maura's major, Sustainable Product Development, she is learning how to take social and environmental considerations in our supply chains and bring meaning to the term 'transparency' in product sourcing and manufacturing. In the future, she'd like to assess supply chains and ensure that companies are using ethical and sustainable practices in a consulting or compliance role.

Pennoni Honors College Accolades

  • Custom-Designed Major

Chelsea Knittel ’14, Honors

Sustainable Materials and Design

Chelsea's major incorporated fields of design and engineering, and it culminated with a research co-op and senior capstone project working in the Shima Seiki Haute Tech Lab. She was the winner of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and is currently pursuing her PhD in Materials Science and Engineering here at Drexel.

Pennoni Honors College Accolades

  • Custom-Designed Major
  • Recipient, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

Matthew Parsons ’15, Honors


Matthew Parsons has conducted research internships at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the University of Maryland. He is currently working at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and intends to continue the work he has just begun in computational plasma physics to support the advancement of fusion science and technology. 

Pennoni Honors College Accolades

  • Honors student
  • Applying for a Fulbright research grant
  • Applying for the NSF Graduate Research Fellowships Program
  • Recipient, Honorable Mention, Goldwater Scholarship
  • STAR

Mashaal Syed, ’16

BS/MS, Biomedical Engineering

Mashaal is a 5th year student in the BS/MS program for biomedical engineering with a concentration in neuroengineering, and is also pursuing a certificate in the medical humanities program. She has been involved in research since the fall of 2011 under advisor Dr. Patricia A. Shewokis, with whom she also worked with as a STAR Scholar during the summer of 2012. Their research is interdisciplinary and translational with a focus in the fields of neuroengineering and surgical simulation with Drexel College of Medicine. They are collaborating with the Department of Surgery (Dr. D. Scott Lind, Chair) to develop training models and implement these models in surgical education. Over the years she has been funded as a research assistant by an NSF (REU) grant and a DUCOM sim grant, has presented at various conferences throughout the country, served as a co-author on many publications, and as of this year has been listed on three invention disclosures and patent applications. For her master’s thesis, Mashaal developing the first immersive virtual reality simulator for basic surgical skills using the Oculus Rift and associated virtual reality commercially available accessories. She would like to further her work and interests, and thus intends on applying to MD/PhD programs in 2016. 

Pennoni Honors College Accolades

  • Honors student
  • STAR Scholar

Nikki Zand, ’17

Finance and International Business

Nikki was a STAR Scholar who worked directly with Project Management Institute (PMI), the world's leading not-for-profit project management (PM) organization, to examine the use of theory within PM research proposals. Her study was conducted with the intent to illuminate the current state of PM research and to give direction for the academic growth and legitimacy of PM. She was able to receive funding to attend the PMI Research and Education Conference in Portland, Oregon and won best student poster among doctoral candidates. 

  • I love to run! I've participated in two marathons and plan to run my third marathon my senior year of college. 
  • I helped start up the Graduate Persian Society at Drexel my freshmen year and worked as the communications chair. Our organization won best event of the year with our Noruz Persian New Years celebration. 
  • I am working to obtain my Undergraduate Research Track Certificate at Drexel, and am going to study corporate social responsibility (an area that I hope to pursue a Ph.D. in one day) and defend my thesis my senior year. 
  • I love to teach English as a Second language. This past year I worked with the Center for Literacy (CFL) and tutored several Spanish speaking students (from Mexico and Colombia) and plan to continue tutoring when I return from my study abroad in Madrid.  
  • My post graduate ambitions are to apply to a pre-doctoral program or apply for a Fulbright Scholarship for either research or ESL

Pennoni Honors College Accolades

  • Honors student
  • STAR Scholar
  • Communications Chair, Undergraduate Research Leaders (URLs)