The University of Tulsa’s 2020 nationally competitive award winners include a Goldwater Scholar, a recipient of the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, two Fulbright Canada-MITACS Globalink Research Internship recipients and three Gilman Scholars.
Mechanical engineering junior Emily Tran of Broken Arrow is one of 396 students from across the United States to win a Barry Goldwater Scholarship. Students majoring in mathematics, the natural sciences and engineering were nominated to apply for the award, which recognizes scientific talent.
In the summer of 2019, Tran worked as a Vanderbilt Institute of Surgical Engineering (VISE) Fellow in the Medical Engineering and Discovery (MED) and Computer Assisted Otologic Surgery (CAOS) labs alongside mechanical engineering alumna Katy Riojas (BS ’16). Tran participated in the design and development of a manual insertion tool for image-guided, minimally invasive cochlear implant surgery. Her summer involved analyzing CT scans, assisting in cadaver trials and designing a phantom model for user and force testing.
Tran said she enjoys this type of research because it is at the cross section of engineering and medicine: “With this type of research, it is easy to see how heavily intertwined they can actually be. After pouring so much work into the research projects, there’s a certain indescribable feeling that comes with seeing the lives of the kids or patients benefit from it.”
Tran also has assisted with Make a Difference Engineering (MADE at TU) projects and served as a student researcher in TU’s Tulsa Undergraduate Research Challenge (TURC). She has been a member of the TU Robotic Mining Crew, the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society and many other organizations and activities.
Working at Vanderbilt opened Tran’s eyes to the direct interaction that often occurs between engineers and physicians seeking to develop life-changing technology. After graduating from TU, she plans to attend medical school and work as a clinical physician. “This experience made me aware of my love for research,” Tran explained. “I will continue working in medical and surgical device research in the future.”
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship
Stephanie Call (BS ’18) of Tulsa is a pre-med chemical engineering alumna currently pursuing a doctorate in chemical engineering at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. At TU, she participated on the women’s rowing team and expanded her scientific knowledge and critical thinking skills in her senior lab and design classes.
At UMass Amherst, Call will use her NSF Graduate Research Fellowship to focus on synthetic biology and genome engineering in bacteria. She uses CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) to engineer E. coli and S. aureus to elucidate the genes associated with cell attachment and biofilm formation on biomaterial surfaces, such as catheters and pacemakers. “By finding these genes and investigating their interactions, we hope to find potential targets that could be used to prevent and treat biofilm infections using targeted antimicrobials and/or antibiofouling agents,” Call said.
After her PhD, Call plans to become a professor and establish her own engineering lab to continue researching and developing new technologies. She also wants to teach and mentor the next generation of engineers and researchers.
Fulbright Canada-MITACS Globalink Research Internship
Biochemistry, pre-med student Ritvik Ganguly and John Reaves, a triple major in political science, Spanish and economics, were honored as inaugural Fulbright Canada-MITACS Globalink Research program interns. This internship program is offered to U.S. students interested in visiting Canada to undertake advanced research projects in their area of interest. Weeks after the announcement, however, the program was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ganguly, of Tulsa, was scheduled to complete 12 weeks of research with a neurosurgeon in a neural repair and regeneration laboratory located in Toronto, Ontario. His project would have focused on human induced pluripotent stem cells that target the microenvironment of spinal cord injuries for the development of a new treatment for traumatic spinal cord injuries.
Ganguly is a Presidential Scholar, Honors Scholar and a member of the TU College Philanthropy Initiative. He plans to attend medical school and pursue a career in internal medicine.
“I believe that the future of medicine relies not only on our ability to innovate in the field of biomedical research, but also on our ability to foster cross-cultural academic exchanges and work together on a global scale,” he remarked.
Reaves, from Fairview, Texas, would have spent his 12 weeks in Winnipeg, Manitoba, helping compile a history of the oil industries in the United States, Canada and Brazil, and using the data to perform economic forecasting.
“I wanted something that would prepare me for whatever line of work I ended up in,” Reaves said. “My eventual career goal is to work for the U.S. State Department.”
Gilman International Scholarship
Meagan Henningsen (sociology) of Tulsa; Manal Abu-Sheikh (psychology) of Broken Arrow, Oklahoma; and Paris Clark (international business, Spanish) of Silver Spring, Maryland, were selected to receive the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State and supports study abroad opportunities for Pell Grant recipients. Unfortunately, the international adventures for Henningsen, Abu-Sheikh and Clark ended early due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about their global scholarships.