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Two CBE Affiliates Are NSF GRFP Awardees

The purpose of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is to help ensure the quality, vitality, and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce of the United States. A goal of the program is to broaden participation of the full spectrum of diverse talents in STEM. The five-year fellowship provides three years of financial support inclusive of an annual stipend.

GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who have demonstrated the potential to be high achieving scientists and engineers, early in their careers. Applicants must be pursuing full-time research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics or in STEM education.

The Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering has two affiliates that have been selected for the program. Abigail Cordiner, a CBE alumna and current Ph.D. student at University of Wisconsin-Madison, chose to apply to the GRFP because “it was the clear next step in the development of her research career.” Her research works to improve differentiations from stem cells to heart muscle cells (cardiomyocytes) under the supervision of Dr. Sean Palecek. Stem cell derived cardiomyocytes are used in disease modeling and drug discovery, however, current differentiation protocols are prone to high cell-to-cell heterogeneity and variability in yield. She is using synthetic biology techniques to enhance the reproducibility of the cardiomyocyte differentiation.

Katie Traynelis, a current CBE senior, is the other GRFP awardee. After graduation in May, she will start her Ph.D. in chemical engineering at MIT this fall. Her hope is to perform research that applies chemical engineering principles to human health challenges. She is interested in several research areas including: protein engineering, immunoengineering, and biomanufacturing. Traynelis chose to apply to the GRFP because it was a great opportunity to get some experience writing funding and grant proposals that will be important for her long-term career goal of becoming a chemE professor.

Congratulations to Abigail and Katie for their GRFP candidacy!