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Awards consist of a $30,000 annual stipend; Eight students and alumni also receive honorable mentions

Ashley Cramer ’10 (East Stroudsburg, Pa.) is passionate about research.

“I first became interested in performing research because I’m a very hands-on person, and the hands-on nature of research helps me to better learn and apply concepts. I had always enjoyed being in lab in high school, and I looked forward to being able to continue that as an undergraduate,” says the chemical engineering major.

Cramer has been honored for her dedication to research and academics by the National Science Foundation. She and alumni Alyssa Batula ’09, Ryan McGinnis ’09,  and Scott Crown ’08 have received 2010 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships.

The fellowships consist of a $30,000 annual stipend for a maximum of three years. Recipients are selected based on overall abilities and accomplishments, as well as potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the United States science and engineering industries.

Ten current or former Lafayette students have received this honor in the last 11 years. Eight students and alumni have been recognized with honorable mentions this year. They include: Hank Bink ’10 (North East, Pa.), an electrical and computer engineering major; Jennifer Grab ’10 (Thornhurst, Pa.), a physics major; William Isley ’10 (Woodbine, Md.), a biochemistry major; Christa Kelleher ’08, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in environmental engineering at Penn State University; Debra Perrone ’08, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in hydrologic sciences at Vanderbilt University; Carolyn Stolfi ’09, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Purdue University; and Ben Towne ’09, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in computation, organizations, and society at Carnegie Mellon University.

Cramer plans to use her fellowship to pursue a Ph.D. in chemical and biological engineering. She is considering attending Northwestern University; University of Wisconsin, Madison; University of California, Santa Barbara, or University of Colorado, Boulder.

She has performed nanotechnology research for the past two years with James Ferri, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. Their project investigates the elastic properties of ultra thin membranes, which has applications in force sensor technologies and controlled drug delivery.

“I find the research I’m performing to be fascinating. I like the interdisciplinary aspect and the challenge that it presents, because I’m required to have knowledge from many different subject areas,” says Cramer.

Cramer’s work, first as an EXCEL Scholar and now as an honors thesis, garnered her an honorable mention in last year’s Goldwater Scholarship competition, the nation’s premier undergraduate award in the fields of mathematics, science, and engineering. She has presented her research at the national conferences of the American Chemical Society and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and last summer was a visiting research student with Ferri at the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany.

McGinnis is pursuing a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at University of Michigan and plans to teach after graduate school.  He is performing research using electronic arrays to measure the forces and torques transmitted across a person’s joints.  This technology has applications identifying baseball pitching and other athlete injury mechanisms.

At Lafayette, he performed EXCEL research and an honors thesis with Steven Nesbit, associate professor of mechanical engineering, on the mechanics of a golf swing. His research was published in the Journal of Sports Sciences and Medicine and will be published in an upcoming edition of The Open Sports Sciences Journal. Nesbit presented parts of the work at the 13th European College of Sports Science Congress in 2008. McGinnis also spent a semester studying engineering and German language and culture at the Lafayette faculty-led program at Jacobs University Bremen in Germany.

Crown is pursuing a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at University of Delaware and plans to work either in the pharmaceutical industry or academia. He is performing research on the function of metabolic cycles on fat cells.

Crown was selected for honorable mention in the 2007 Goldwater Scholarship competition. He worked with Patricia Darcy, assistant professor of chemical engineering, on EXCEL research and an honors thesis on the effects of high salt concentrations on certain proteins. He presented the results of his work at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ annual meetings in 2006 and 2007. He participated in the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduate program in biomolecular engineering at Penn State during the summer of 2007. He also spent a semester abroad at Jacobs University Bremen.

Batula is pursuing a Ph.D. in artificial intelligence at Drexel University.

See a list of recent Lafayette recipients of national and international scholarships and fellowships for undergraduate and post-graduate study. For information on applying for scholarships and fellowships, contact Julia A. Goldberg, associate dean of the College, (610) 330-5521.

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