Four graduate students receive DOE Science Graduate Fellowships

5/27/2010 3:52:00 PM

Four College of Engineering graduate students--Jonathan Felts, Kyle Fox, Neera Jain, and Brian Rosen--have been selected to receive the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science Graduate Fellowship Program.

Underscoring the Obama Administration's commitment to bolstering science education, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced that 150 students have been selected to receive graduate fellowship awards as part of this new Department of Energy Graduate Fellowship Program.

“The exceptionally talented students selected as graduate fellows are part of our nation's next generation of scientific and technical leaders,” said Secretary Chu. “This investment in the training of scientists and engineers is part of the Administration's continued effort to ensure that America has the scientific and engineering workforce we need to secure our energy future and our continued economic competitiveness.”

The goal of the fellowship program is to encourage students to pursue graduate degrees in physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, engineering, and environmental and computer sciences—fields that will prepare students for careers that can make significant contributions in discovery-driven science and science for national needs in energy and the environment.

Jonathan Felts
Jonathan Felts
After earning a BS degree in mechanical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology in 2008, Jonathan Felts received his MS from Illinois in 2009, with a thesis project entitled, "Atomic Force Microscope Cantilever with Reduced Second Order Harmonic Frequency during Tip-Surface Contact," and is currently pursuing his PhD under the advisement of MechSE associate professor William P. King. His research focus is in tip-based methods for nanometer scale manufacturing and metrology. In addition to earning the DOE fellowship, Felt is the recipient of the Eugene and Lina Abraham Endowed PhD Supplemental Fellowship for 2010. He has authored or co-authored three papers and has one patent application pending.

Kyle Fox
Kyle Fox
Kyle Fox is a PhD student in computer science who lists his research interests as algorithms and theory including data structures and computational topology. Past projects include work on potentially optimal dynamic binary search tree algorithms and research into maximum flow algorithms for surface embedded graphs.

Neera Jain
Neera Jain
Neera Jain completed a SB in mechanical engineering and earned a teaching certification in secondary mathematics (grades 8-12) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2006. In 2009, she completed a masters' degree in mechanical engineering at Illinois, and is currently part of the Alleyne Research Group. Her research focuses on the development of algorithms to optimize the performance and reduce energy consumption of different energy and power systems.

“I believe it's rare for a mechanical engineer to get this type of DOE Office of Science award,” explained Andrew Alleyne, Jain’s advisor in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering and associate dean for research in the College of Engineering, noting that there were more than 3,200 applicants.

“Given the challenges that our nation and the world are facing with respect to energy production, consumption, and transmission, I believe that research aimed at improving the efficiency of energy systems will have an incredible impact on our society,” Jain wrote in her proposal. “While gains in energy system efficiency have been obtained via hardware improvements, techniques in sensing, control, and optimization offer additional means through which improvements in performance and efficiency can be attained.”

Brian Rosen
Brian Rosen
Chemical engineering graduate student Brian Rosen is interested in the fields of electro-catalysis and surface chemistry, particularly with application to the conversion of atmospheric carbon dioxide (which has a patent pending) and desalination.

“I am going into my third year of graduate study at Illinois,” explained Rosen. “I helped my advisor, Richard Masel, start a company called Dioxide Materials, Inc., that focuses on carbon dioxide conversion. I am interested ultimately in academia, but would like to transition to this through either an academic or government postdoc position." His professional associations include AICHE, and he has had prior affiliations with ACS, SAMPE and IEEE.

Rosen earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware in 2008. His previous research experiences include designing liquid body armor, developing targeted release drug capsules, and designing sublimation processes for depositing high-K materials on silicon substrates.

The new DOE fellowship program is designed to strengthen the nation's scientific workforce by providing support to young students during the formative years of their research. Each graduate fellow will be provided with tuition, living expenses, and research support for three years to academic institutions across the country. Fellowships awarded in the first year of the DOE SCGF program are funded in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Contact: Kyle Fox, Department of Comuter Science.

Jonathan Felts, Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering.

Neera Jain, Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering.

Brian Rosen, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering.

If you have any questions about the College of Engineering, or other story ideas, contact Rick Kubetz, Engineering Communications Office, 217/244-7716, writer/editor.