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Drexel's 2016 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

April 2, 2016

Four Drexel students and alumni received the prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowships and twelve received Honorable Mentions. These students were selected from a record number of 17,000 applicants nationwide.

We are so proud of these students, who have demonstrated exemplary commitment to their research. We also congratulate their faculty mentors who have given them guidance and support along the way.

Drexel's 2016 NSF Graduate Research Fellows are:

Sam Ciocys

Sam Ciocys

BS Physics ‘15, Honors
Drexel faculty mentor: Dr. Goran Karapetrov
Graduate Institution: University of California, Berkeley
Sam spent two co-ops in 2013 and 2014 at Argonne National Laboratory working for the University of Chicago’s South Pole Telescope team (SPT). During his first interval at Argonne, he researched superconducting-ferromagnetic thin film hetero-structures for application in transition edge sensors. This experience was transferred to his second appointment at Argonne where he was part of the South Pole Telescope detector fabrication team building detectors to observe the Cosmic Microwave Background.

David HartmanDavid Hartman
BS '14, MS '16; PhD student, Mechanical Engineering
Drexel faculty mentor: Dr. B.C. Chang
A transfer student from the Drexel at Burlington County College program, David completed his BS in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in Electrical Engineering in June of 2014, and his MS in Mechanical Engineering in March of 2016. His past experience includes working as a helicopter pilot and flight instructor, a control engineering co-op with a hydro-power company, and a student research position with the Army Research Laboratory Guidance Technologies Branch where he modeled and simulated multi-rotor aerial vehicles for use in single and multi-agent control system design. His research interests include modeling and simulation of aircraft with embedded sensors and controllers and design and implementation of multi-agent estimation and control systems.

Sarah Gleeson

Sarah Gleeson
Materials Science & Engineering, PhD student
Drexel faculty mentor: Dr. Chris Li
Sarah is a first year PhD student in Materials Science and Engineering. Sarah received an 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. Her advisor is Dr. Chris Li, and she is currently working on a project designing composite mineralized polymer materials to mimic the structure of bone.

Jessica Weaver
Jessica Weaver

Materials Science & Engineering, PhD student
Drexel faculty mentor: Dr. Andrew Magenau
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. As a member of the Macromolecular Materials Group, Jessica currently studies novel bottlebrush polymer architectures synthesized through controlled/living polymerizations. Her Drexel advisor is Dr. Andrew Magenau. Besides her research, Jessica is also passionate about increasing public awareness of scientific discoveries; she is a "Science Now" Educator at the Academy of Natural Sciences. 


2016 NSF GRFP Honorable Mentions

Milad Alemohammad
BS/MS Electrical and Computer Engineering ‘10

Katherine Berman
BS Biological Sciences ’15, Honors
Drexel faculty mentor: Dr. Shivanthi Anandan
Graduate Institution: Cornell University

Evan Curtin
BS/MS Chemistry ’15, Honors
Graduate Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Andrew Feldman

Andrew Feldman

BS Civil Engineering ‘16
Drexel faculty mentor: Dr. Franco Montalto
Andrew conducted research with Dr. Franco Montalto on the use of green infrastructure in New York City urban parks to mitigate combined sewer overflows into surface water bodies; in 2015, he defended his M.S. thesis on this topic. Andrew will attend MIT in Fall 2016 to pursue a PhD in Civil and Environmental Engineering. He will be a research assistant in the Hydrology and Hydroclimatology Research Group within the Parsons Laboratory. At MIT, Andrew plans to shift his focus to a global scale perspective of hydrology and study how large scale hydrologic measurements can improve the understanding of water supply, meteorology, and agriculture.


Jeremy Gaison

Jeremy Gaison

BS Physics ’15, Honors
Drexel faculty mentor: Dr. Michelle Dolinski
Graduate Institution: Yale University
Jeremy is first year graduate student at Yale in Dr. Karsten Heeger’s research group in the field of experimental neutrino physic where he is working to develop a detector to make high precision measurements of antineutrinos produced by nuclear reactors. Jeremy began his research in experimental neutrino physics at Drexel working with Dr. Michelle Dolinski where he learned many of the skills he uses today to push the limits of neutrino detection technology.

John Hunyara
BS Biology ’14, Honors
Graduate Institution: Johns Hopkins University


Kyle Juretus
PhD student, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Drexel faculty mentor: Dr. Ioannis Savidis
Integrated Circuits and Electronics (ICE) Lab

James Knighton
BS Civil Engineering ‘07
Graduate Institution: Cornell University

Matt McBride
Matthew McBride

BS Chemistry ’14, Honors
Drexel faculty mentor: Dr. Jean-Claude Bradley
Graduate Institution: Harvard University
Matthew is a second year graduate student in the chemical biology program at Harvard University and Harvard Medical School. He works under Dr. Cigall Kadoch studying the role of the mammalian SWI/SNF (BAF) ATP-dependent chromatin-remodeling complex in oncogenic development.  The chromatin-remodeling activity of the BAF complex allows for the precise control of gene transcription as cells undergo differentiation. Over 20% of human cancers have a mutation in one or more of the BAF complex subunits. Consequently, the goals of Matthew’s graduate work are to uncover the mechanism by which structural alterations to the BAF complex result in altered transcriptional programs leading to oncogenic cellular proliferation within the context of human synovial sarcoma.

Anjli Patel

BS Chemical Engineering, ’16, Honors
Drexel faculty mentor: Dr. Jason Baxter
Anjli is a senior majoring in Chemical Engineering with a minor in Materials Science. Anjli began her research experience at Drexel investigating zinc oxide/copper oxide solar cells in the Baxter group through the STAR program, which sparked her interest in renewable energy research. She continued working in the Baxter lab throughout my undergraduate career researching hematite photoanodes for solar water splitting. After graduating from Drexel, Anjli plans to pursue at Ph.D. studying materials for renewable energy applications, and aims to become an industrial researcher. 

Hined R
Hined Rafeh

MS '16, Science, Technology & Society
Drexel faculty mentor: Dr. Kelly Joyce
Graduate Institution: Rensselaer Polytechnic
Hined is a second year student in the Science, Technology, and Society M.S. Program. Her research interests center on public understanding and engagement with technologies and science, particularly within health and medical fields. She also studies how conceptions of citizen science differ, what motivates non-accredited experts to engage in scientific labor, and how citizens’ use of different technologies to facilitate this labor relates to their motives and practices. At Drexel, she was a research assistant for Dr. Ali Kenner, working on public conceptions of climate change and environmental health, and is currently a research assistant for Dr. Kelly Joyce, conducting stakeholder evaluation of an emerging wearable medical technology. Hined graduated from Temple University in 2014 with a B.A. in Biological Anthropology, and will be entering Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s PhD Program in Science and Technology Studies in the Fall of 2016.

Alex Sevit

Alex Sevit
BS/MS Biomedical Engineering ’15, Honors
Drexel faculty mentor: Dr. Steven Kurtz
Graduate Institution: Stanford University
Alex first became interested in biomedical research when he began a co-op position at Drexel’s Implant Research Center under Prof. Steven Kurtz. There, he helped initiate a multi-center cardiac pacing lead retrieval program that characterizes the biodegradation of the wires that connect the pulse generator of the pacemaker to the heart wall. Alex presented his research at the 2013 annual meetings of the Heart Rhythm Society and the Society for Biomaterials. His research has since shifted towards development of a novel antibacterial coating on the surface of orthopedic implants to prevent infection. Alex is currently at Stanford University, where he is studying injectable hydrogels for antibiotic therapy.

Julie SpeerJulie Speer
BS Biomedical Engineering ’16, Honors
Drexel faculty mentors: Dr. Kenneth Barbee, Dr. Hao ChengDr. Kara Spiller
Julie is currently completing her bachelor's degree in Biomedical Engineering and will be attending Washington University in St. Louis in the fall to begin doctoral studies. Her previous research has included work in Dr. Cheng's Nanobiomaterials and Cell Engineering Laboratory at Drexel University and her research interests include: biomaterial-cell interactions, tissue engineering, and wound healing. 

Ed WaddellEdward Waddell
PhD student, Biological Science
Drexel faculty mentor: Dr. Dan Marenda
Edward is a second year PhD student in Biological Sciences. He received in BS in Biological Sciences from Drexel University in 2014. Edward's research is focused on investigating the mechanisms and function of the protein Daughterless/TCF4 in mature neurons. Mutations in TCF4 are associated with schizophrenia and Pitt-Hopkins syndrome, a rare neurodevelopmental disorder.


The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based masters and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions.

For more information about the NSF GRFP, contact the Drexel Fellowships Office or visit