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UConn Student Receives 2019 Portz Interdisciplinary Fellowship

UConn’s 2019 nominee for the NCHC Portz Interdisciplinary Fellowship, Susan Naseri (CLAS ’20)

 

The National Collegiate Honors Council’s John and Edythe Portz Interdisciplinary Research Fellowship provides students in good standing in honors programs of NCHC member institutions support to conduct creative and innovative research that crosses boundaries. The fellowship program invites applications from individuals who wish to undertake cross-disciplinary research or from a team of two students from different disciplines who propose a single collaborative project. The project will be funded for a period of up to 18 months with the expectation that upon its completion the Fellowship recipient will make a presentation of the research at the annual NCHC conference.

Honors students in good standing from 2-year colleges or 4-year colleges and universities with current Institutional membership in NCHC may apply at any point in their undergraduate studies. In addition to two letters of recommendation from faculty members, an endorsement from the institutional representative named in the NCHC membership is required.  Only ONE PROPOSAL per year from each member institution is permitted.

UConn’s NCHC Portz Nominee is chosen each spring from the pool of University Scholars who are Honors students with a record of engagement with the honors community and service to the Honors Program.

On May 1, the National Collegiate Honors Council informed UConn’s 2019 nominee Susan Naseri (CLAS ’20) that her Portz Interdisciplinary Fellowship application was successful, making her UConn’s first Portz Fellow since 2016.

Hailing from Queens, NY, Susan is pursuing a double major in Political Science and Human Rights. In addition to being a student in the Special Program in Law and the Honors Program, Susan is President of the Middle Eastern Student Association, a member of the 2018 Leadership Legacy cohort, and a recipient of the Cohen Student Leadership Scholarship.  She was also a Finalist for the 2019 Truman Scholarship.  As a Bennett Research Assistant and recipient of the SHARE grant, she documented cases of violence against women and girls across the world for Dr. David Richards, and this research was then cited in his book, Exploring The Consequences Of The Normative Gap In Legal Protections Addressing Violence Against Women. Additionally, Susan served as the Research and Evaluation Intern at the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund in Spring 2018. As a Holster scholar, Susan conducted qualitative interviews with the administrative heads of four NGOs across CT, to determine if their policies and programs offered to Middle Eastern refugees were focused more on acculturation or assimilation. With a love for learning and travel, Susan was named a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholar and Fund for Education Abroad Scholar which allowed her to study in France and travel through Europe during the Summer of 2018. In the Fall 2018 semester, she served as the Human Rights Intern at UConn Law’s Asylum and Human Rights Clinic, where she documented country conditions research to corroborate the claims of their clients who were seeking asylum in the United States. Building on this passion to help asylum seekers and refugees, Susan is conducting research through literature reviews and qualitative interviews regarding the lived experiences of Middle Eastern refugee youth in Chicago, San Diego, and Dallas. As a University Scholar, she will be continuing similar research with NGOs and refugees in Amman, Jordan. In addition to research, Susan works as a tutor at the Writing Center, as a Student Programming Assistant for the Honors Department and previously, as a Resident Assistant on campus. In the future, she aims to create her own non-governmental organization dedicated to providing legal aid and helping refugees integrate into society.

 

To learn more about these and other nationally-competitive scholarship and fellowship opportunities, visit the Office of National Scholarships & Fellowships and click “Talk to an Advisor.”

Akshayaa Chittibabu named UConn’s fifth Marshall Scholar

Akshayaa Chittibabu ’19 (CLAS) looks to use her Truman scholarship for graduate work in dual medical and public health programs. (Bri Diaz/UConn Photo)
Akshayaa Chittibabu ’19 (CLAS) plans to use her Marshall Scholarship for graduate work at Oxford University.  (Bri Diaz/UConn Photo)

Akshayaa Chittibabu ’19 (CLAS), a biological sciences and sociology major, has been named a 2019 Marshall Scholar by The Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission. The competitive national award, given to just 48 individuals across the U.S., recognizes excellence in scholarship, leadership, and ambassadorial potential.

More  . . . 

 

 

UConn Junior Wins Prestigious Truman Scholarship

Akshayaa Chittibabu ’19 (CLAS) looks to use her Truman scholarship for graduate work in dual medical and public health programs. (Bri Diaz/UConn Photo)
Akshayaa Chittibabu ’19 (CLAS) looks to use her Truman scholarship for graduate work in dual medical and public health programs. (Bri Diaz/UConn Photo)

Akshayaa Chittibabu ’19 (CLAS), a biological sciences and sociology major, has been named a 2018 Truman Scholar by The Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation. The competitive national award, given to 59 students across the U.S., selects and supports the next generation of public service leaders.

Read more . . . .

 

2018 Holster Scholars Announced

The Holster Scholars First Year Project is a highly selective enrichment opportunity for curious first-year Honors students that supports a small number of motivated students interested in independent research the summer following their first year. Holster projects are in-depth, individualized learning experiences.  Beyond some basic requirements, projects are self-designed.  The Holster Scholars Program is made possible by a generous gift from Robert (’68) and Carlotta (’68) Holster.

Click here to meet the 2018 cohort of Holster Scholars . . . .

Meet UConn’s 2018 Goldwater Scholarship Nominees

Goldwater Scholarship nominees (l to r) Andrew Levin, Saurabh Kumar , and Sarah Ferrigno, with Goldwater Scholarship nominating committee chair Prof. Joanne Conover.  Nominee Daniel Zeigher not pictured.  Taken at the ONSF Celebration of Excellence breakfast, April 25, 2018. (Bri Diaz/UConn Photo)

 

Meet UConn’s 2018 nominees for the Barry Goldwater Scholarship.

Sarah Ferrigno (CLAS ’19) is an Honors student from Montgomery, NJ double majoring in psychology and molecular and cell biology. She was nominated for the Goldwater Scholarship.  After graduation, she intends to obtain a Ph.D. in Neuroscience in order to explore the neural mechanisms underlying mental illness and develop more effective treatment options. As a Holster scholar, Sarah spent the summer following her freshman year working under Dr. John Salamone investigating the role of the adenosine A2a receptor with regard to the motivational symptoms associated with major depressive disorder. Utilizing the novel drug Preladenant, an incredibly selective adenosine A2a receptor antagonist, she was successfully able to reverse an induced low-effort bias in a rodent behavioral model. Sarah’s work was presented at the 2017 Society for Neuroscience conference and is currently under review for publication. The summer following her sophomore year Sarah was one of twelve fellows selected from over 200 applicants to conduct research at the Center for Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh. While there, she worked under Dr. Michael Gold to understand the mechanisms behind chronic migraine by using fluorescent immunohistochemistry to analyze immune cell aggregation and neural innervation in human dura samples. Her recent work in the Salamone lab is focused on evaluating the mechanisms of effort bias mediated by the serotonin 1B receptor. Sarah was twice awarded the New England Scholar award for academic excellence, received Sophomore Honors, and was recently appointed as a University Scholar, UConn’s highest undergraduate honor. Outside of the lab and in her free time she is President of the UConn Psychology Club, is a big fan of music, and is currently learning guitar.

Saurabh Kumar (CLAS ’20) from North Andover, MA, is a STEM Scholar majoring in physiology & neurobiology and minoring in statistics. He is planning on pursuing an M.D./Ph.D. degree in Neurobiology to investigate effective therapies for his patients with central nervous system damage following injury and lesioning. His research career began the summer of 2015 in the Cao Lab at the University Of New England College Of Osteopathic Medicine where he investigated glial cell inflammatory responses to chronic morphine use in a rodent AIDS retrovirus infection model. This work was recently published in the Journal of Neuroimmunology. Currently, Saurabh is conducting research in the Conover Lab at UConn on the development of the brain’s lateral ventricles and the ventricular-subventricular zone (V-SVZ) stem cell niche. He is working to complete a spatiotemporal model of lateral ventricle and V-SVZ normal development that will allow future neural stem cell niche researchers to evaluate effectively, a given pathology against the normal phenotype. Saurabh received a 2018 SURF grant that he will use to study development of this stem cell niche in hydrocephalic patients and model quantitative hypotheses for mechanisms of ependymal cell differentiation along the brain’s ventricles based on prior cell counts. Outside of the laboratory, Saurabh is an online math tutor for K-12 students and an avid clarinetist serving as the Principal Clarinet player in both the UConn Symphonic Band and UConn Chamber Ensemble Club. He is also the Co-President of the KDSAP Club – an organization that provides free kidney health screenings to medically under-served populations.

Andrew Levin (ENG ’20) from Yorktown Heights, NY, is a STEM Scholar pursuing a B.S.E in Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) and minors in mathematics and physics. He plans to earn a Ph.D. after graduation in order to make an impact in the research and development of renewable energy technologies. His research journey began as a junior in high school as part of an intensive science research program. Through the program, he conducted two separate year-long research projects and was named an Intel STS Semifinalist. The research in those projects focused on designing solar tracking devices for photovoltaic application, which was a mechanical engineering approach for enhancing solar cell performance. At the beginning of fall freshman year, after seeing a guest lecturer speak of materials science research in photovoltaics at UConn, his interest was sparked. He began to work with Dr. Bryan Huey, where he learned a novel microscopy method unique to UConn, and how it could be applied to study the inner workings of solar cells. As a Holster scholar, he spent the summer after freshman year at UConn, where he applied his newfound microscopy experience to study a unique Cadmium Telluride (CdTe) solar cell sample. The results from the summer research shed important insights on charge transport throughout the microstructure of the CdTe. Andrew has since continued his study of CdTe cells as part of Dr. Huey’s lab group, where he performs experiments to determine the correlation between microstructure and solar cell efficiency. Outside of academics, Andrew enjoys hiking, climbing, and snowboarding.

Daniel Zeigher (ENG ‘19) from Trumbull, CT, is an Honors student pursuing a B.S.E. in Environmental Engineering. He is planning on earning a Ph.D. in Environmental Engineering and pursuing a position conducting interdisciplinary research at a leading research institution.  Daniel currently works in the chemical engineering lab of Dr. Leslie Shor where he utilizes microfluidic devices for agricultural and biotechnological applications.  He has worked with microfluidic devices that emulate the microstructure of soil to investigate protists’ ability to transport nano-encapsulated agrochemicals directly to plant roots.  Daniel’s involvement began in the summer of 2017 with the investigation of the movement and feeding behaviors of the protist Colpoda steinii.  His undergraduate research will culminate in 2019 with the completion of his honors thesis that he personally proposed. For this thesis he is currently developing an assay that will evaluate the interactions between soil protists and the potentially detrimental nanomaterials they ingest.  Daniel has been recognized as a New England Scholar and received a UConn School of Engineering Scholarship Award. Outside of academics, he is involved in Alternative Break Trips through UConn’s Department of Community Outreach.  These service projects have been focused on topics including coastal conservation in Groton, Connecticut and rural poverty in Cosby, Tennessee.

2017 Holster Scholars Present Research

2017 Holster Scholars with Robert Holster (’68) on September 25, 2017. (Bri Diaz/UConn Photo)

The 2017 class of Holster Scholars presented their summer research projects at the Holster Scholar Summer Research Project symposium on Monday, September 25, in the Dodd Center’s Konover Auditorium.  Eight sophomore Honors students presented  original  work on topics  ranging from refugee integration to cancer to plastics to aging.

Read Ellen Yang’s feature story on the event over on the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences website.

The Holster Scholars First Year Project is a highly selective enrichment opportunity for curious first-year Honors students that supports a small number of motivated students interested in independent research the summer following their first year. Holster projects are in-depth, individualized learning experiences.  Beyond some basic requirements, projects are self-designed.  The Holster Scholars Program is made possible by a generous gift from Robert (’68) and Carlotta (’68) Holster.

The deadline to apply for the 2018 class of Holster Scholars is November 7, 2017 at 4:00pm.  For more information on the Holster Scholar Program, visit the website or contact Holster Scholars Program Coordinator Vin Moscardelli at vin.moscardelli@uconn.edu.

2017 Rhodes and Marshall Scholarship Nominees

2017 Marshall Scholarship nominees John Ovian and Tasneem Ahmed.  John Bear, Jr. and Owen Hart not pictured.  UConn Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships 2017 Celebration of Nominees Breakfast on April 19, 2017. (Bri Diaz/UConn Photo)

Meet UConn’s 2017 Rhodes and Marshall Scholarship Nominees.

Tasneem Ahmed (CLAS ’17) is a senior majoring in Economics and Human Rights. She is interested in the intersection of human rights, economic development and international affairs with a particular focus on labor rights of workers worldwide.  She is a UNESCO Student Ambassador for Human Rights and is the treasurer of both UConn’s International Relations Association and TedxUConn. In 2014 and 2015, she helped coordinate a TedxUConn event focused on Health and Humanity. She is also currently conducting research on the Effects of the Business Cycle on Human Trafficking with the help of Professor Nishith Prakash of the Economics Department.  In summer 2014, Tasneem interned with the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh for the United Nations. Her experience consisted of attending numerous UN Security Council and Economic and Social Council meetings and writing reports to send back to Dhaka, Bangladesh. Here, she had the opportunity to work extensively with the Millennium Development Goals and Sustainable Development Goals from the perspective of a third world country. Realizing the power that multinational corporations now have in the international arena, Tasneem thinks one of the most effective ways to tackle human rights issues is for businesses to become aware of their corporate social responsibility. For this reason, Tasneem hopes to focus her future career around corporate social responsibility and sustainability issues.

 

John Bear (CLAS, ’17) is a double honors major in Molecular and Cell Biology (MCB) and Physiology and Neurobiology (PNB) who is also minoring in Mathematics.  A Babbidge Scholar, LSAMP Scholar, and McNair Scholar, John was elected to Phi Beta Kappa in 2015.  In January 2016, John participated in an inter-session education abroad opportunity in three communities in Ecuador, where he performed volunteer community outreach with Social Entrepreneur Corps during the day and spent his evenings hiking the surrounding hills.  His passion for exploring other cultures and their education systems next took him to Spain, where he hiked the Camino de Santiago in August and September before returning to UConn to complete his degree. He will be returning to South America in summer 2017 to work with Social Entrepreneur Corps in Guatemala. A published researcher with experience in several labs on campus, John’s current research under the mentorship of PNB Professor Angel de Blas centers around understanding the structure and function of GABAergic postsynapses in the central nervous system, and mapping the mathematical principles governing circuit function. For his efforts, he received Honorable Mention in the 2017 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship competition.  John’s ultimate goal is to earn a PhD in neurobiology and teach at a university while continuing to volunteer in public service.

 

Owen Hart (CLAS, ’17) is a senior Honors student and Babbidge Scholar from Southbury CT, majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology. Owen completed a minor in French through UConn’s education abroad programs in Paris and Toulouse. During his sophomore year, Owen began working as an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Challa Kumar’s Chemistry Lab. During his sophomore and junior year, Owen served as Program Director of the Collegiate Health Service Corps (CHSC), a Community Outreach organization dedicated to bringing health education to medically underserved communities. As Program Director, Owen was responsible for ensuring the health education goals of all participants were logistically possible. Owen recently completed his Honors thesis, which examined the implications of antibiotic resistance on the sexual health of gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men. Owen aspires to work in the field of public health, a field that will require he draw from both his bioscience and social science backgrounds. Owen has come to fully appreciate that biological, social, economic, and political forces must all be considered as we work to address health disparities and improve public health.

 

John Michael Ovian (CLAS ’17) from Madison, CT, is an honors student pursuing dual B.S./M.S. degrees in chemistry. John plans on earning a Ph.D. in chemistry upon graduation. Working in the laboratory of Dr. Nicholas Leadbeater in the Department of Chemistry, his research has focused generally on organic methodology development, with the overarching goal of making organic synthesis a more environmentally friendly field. To this end, he works with an oxoammonium salt oxidant (known as Bobbitt’s Salt), which is safe, environmentally benign, and recyclable. As a Holster Scholar he spent the summer after his freshman year probing the mechanism of oxoammonium salt oxidations and developing a method to cleave allyl ethers to their corresponding carbonyl species. These projects were published in the peer-reviewed journals, The Journal of Organic Chemistry and Organic and Biomolecular Chemistry, respectively. Additionally, he has developed a method for the direct oxidative conversion of aldehydes to nitriles, which was published in the leading chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition, and also a method for oxidative ring opening of cyclic ethers, will be submitted for review soon. He has been awarded several Office of Undergraduate Research grants and presented numerous poster and oral presentations. This past summer, John worked in the laboratory of Dr. Neil Garg at UCLA as a part of the prestigious Amgen Scholars Program. Recently, John was selected as a University Scholar, where his project involves merging photocatalysis with oxoammonium salt chemistry. He also possesses a passion for teaching and mentoring his peers and is a teaching assistant for both the honors organic and general chemistry sequences, as well as a Peer Research Ambassador and Peer Allies Through Honors mentor. John enjoys singing as the music director of Extreme Measures, one of UConn’s premier co-ed a cappella groups.

 

 

UConn Junior Tyler Daddio Named 2017 Goldwater Scholar

(Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

Tyler Daddio ’18 (ENG, CLAS), from Beacon Falls, Conn., has been named a 2017 Goldwater Scholar.  The Goldwater Scholarship is considered the nation’s premier scholarship for undergraduates studying math, natural sciences, and engineering. It was established by Congress to honor the late U.S. Sen. Barry M. Goldwater, for the purpose of identifying students of outstanding ability and promise, and encouraging them to pursue advanced study and research careers.

Daddio, pictured above, is a STEM scholar pursuing a BS in mathematics and dual BSE/MS degrees in computer science and engineering. He plans to earn a Ph.D. in computer science after he graduates from UConn.  He is joined by fellow UConn students Vincent Pistritto ’18 (CLAS, SFA) and Nick Russo ’18 (CLAS), who each received Honorable Mention in this year’s competition.  With this award, Tyler becomes the sixth UConn undergraduate to earn a Goldwater Scholarship since 2014.

Meet UConn’s 2017 Udall Scholarship Nominee

Each year, on behalf of the University of Connecticut, the Office of National Scholarships & Fellowships nominates students to compete nationally for the prestigious Udall Scholarship.  Named for Representative Morris K. Udall and his brother, Secretary Stewart L. Udall, this $5,000 undergraduate scholarship is awarded to high-achieving students from any discipline who are either passionate about the environment or  are Native American students committed to tribal healthcare or tribal policy, following legacy of the Udalls, who supported legislation to protect both the environment and Native American interests.  Recipients are also invited into a strong network of committed environmentalists and Native American advocates.  If you are a UConn student and want more information about the scholarship and how to seek nomination, start here.

 

Nicholas Russo (CLAS ’18) is an Honors Student and STEM scholar majoring in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in ecology, with a focus on ornithology and forest community ecology. Since his freshman year, Nick has been working in the lab of Dr. Morgan Tingley, conducting research on the potential for birds to disperse hemlock woolly adelgid, an invasive insect that devastates eastern hemlock forests. Nick received an IDEA Grant in summer 2016 to monitor adelgid carrying rates of birds in hemlock forests, and presented this research, and his Holster Scholar research, at the national Wilson Ornithological Society meeting in March, 2017, where he received the Nancy Klamm Best Undergraduate Student Oral Paper Award. In November 2016, the results of his Holster Scholar research on adelgid transfer rates between hemlock branches and birds were published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Entomology.  As president of the UConn Birding Club and a representative of ECOalition, Nick takes a strong interest in citizen science and environmental awareness. As part of these organizations, he is working to implement a university general education requirement in environmental literacy and sustainability, and undertake a Connecticut Ornithological Society-funded project to ensure continued management of the Mansfield Community Garden for migratory birds. A University Scholar for 2017-18, Nick received the Stewart L. and Morris K. Udall Scholarship in 2016, and received Honorable Mention for this award in 2017. Nick works at the Writing Center, and in his spare time, he likes to bird, run, swim, and speak French.

Meet UConn’s 2019 Gaither Junior Fellows Nominee

Each year, through the James C. Gaither Junior Fellows Program, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace offers approximately 12-14 one-year fellowships to uniquely qualified graduating seniors and individuals who have graduated during the past academic year. They are selected from a pool of nominees nominated by several hundred participating universities and colleges. James C. Gaither Junior Fellows work as research assistants to Carnegie’s senior scholars. Please reach out to UConn’s nominating official, Ms. LuAnn Saunders-Kanabay, to learn more about the college application process and please see their FAQ for eligibility requirements.

 

Emilyn Tuomala (CLAS ’19) is a senior Honors student from New Milford, CT, majoring in International Security and Political Science with a History minor.  She is an able German, Arabic and Spanish speaker and loves learning about other countries around the globe. Emilyn is passionate about military history and security strategy, particularly how it applies to nuclear proliferation and technological innovation. During her time at UConn, Emilyn served two years as vice president for UConn Model UN, spent four years in the marching band, was on the executive board for UConn’s Love146 to End Human Trafficking chapter, and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa her junior year. A two time New England Scholar, Emilyn completed an internship with the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance in Alexandria, VA before her senior year and and is currently an intern in Congressman Joe Courtney’s office. Her time as an Alan R. Bennett Research Assistant with the political science department inspired her to write a senior thesis on the growth of the U.S. missile defense program, with the help of Dr. Evan Perkoski. Attending George Washington University for a Masters in Security and Nuclear Studies in the fall, Emilyn is thankful for the opportunities UConn has provided her. She would like to one day become a nuclear treaty and strategy analyst and support our Armed Forces in helping to protect the globe.

 

To learn more about this and other nationally-competitive scholarship and fellowship opportunities, visit the Office of National Scholarships & Fellowships and click “Talk to an Advisor.”