Two alumni and two graduating molecular engineering students from The College at the University of Chicago have been named National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellows for 2023.
The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is the oldest fellowship of its kind in the country and is considered one of the most prestigious, with many recipients achieving high levels of success in their future academic and professional careers. Past fellows include numerous Nobel Prize laureates, former U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, Google founder Sergey Brin, and Freakonomics co-author Steven Levitt.
The fellowship provides students with a three-year annual stipend of $37,000 and a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance for tuition and fees, as well as access to opportunities for professional development available to NSF-supported graduate students.
“These four students represent a level of excellence that we strive for in the molecular engineering program, and it is my distinct pleasure to congratulate them on their achievement,” said Mark Stoykovich, senior instructional professor and director of undergraduate studies in molecular engineering.
Grace Chen, SB’22, investigates a class of 2D materials called transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs), which are semiconductors that have a very strong optical response from excitons. While at UChicago, she worked under the mentorship of Alex High, assistant professor of molecular engineering. Chen is currently a graduate student in physics at Harvard University.
Wilson Turner, SB’23, researches the synthesis and characterization of mechanically interlocked polymer networks, crucial materials with applications in water filtration and energy storage. His work was done under the mentorship of Stuart Rowan, Barry L. MacLean Professor for Molecular Engineering Innovation and Enterprise. Wilson is also a recipient of the University of Chicago’s Odyssey Scholarship, a transformative program supporting first-generation students and those from lower-income families.
“I am incredibly grateful for the support I've received over the past four years while at UChicago,” said Wilson. “I would never have received the NSF-GRFP without the endless support of the University’s many excellent faculty and staff, including those at UChicago’s College Center for Research and Fellowships.”
Madeline Joseph, SB’22, performed her undergraduate research under the mentorship of Allison Squires, Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Molecular Engineering, working to develop a nucleic acid detection tool. Madeline is currently a graduate student studying at Northwestern University, where she is exploring the interface of sustainability and synthetic biology to uncover the environmental benefits of next-generation biotechnologies.
Lucas Wang, SB’23, investigates advanced materials for quantum applications. His undergraduate research, conducted under the mentorship of Giulia Galli, Liew Family Professor of Molecular Engineering, centered on developing efficient algorithms to simulate quantum materials on quantum computers.
“I could not have won the NSF fellowship without the help of my amazing peers and mentors in the Galli Group,” said Wang. “It has been truly rewarding to explore the many science and engineering disciplines presented by the diverse coursework and tremendous resources at PME. Because of that, I feel prepared and excited to tackle the next part of my journey.”
UChicago’s Pritzker Molecular Engineering is the first school in the nation dedicated to molecular engineering. The College’s molecular engineering curriculum is rooted in the physical sciences and provides a rigorous engineering education with a focus on industry and research experiences. The College of the University of Chicago offers three main undergraduate tracks in molecular engineering: bioengineering, chemical engineering, and quantum engineering.