The National Science Foundation's Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP) is awarded annually to promising graduate students throughout the nation to fund their research. Two mechanical engineering graduate students—Jon Slowik and Brady Stoll—at The University of Texas at Austin have been awarded this prestigious honor this year.
The program supports graduate students engaged in research in NSF-supported science programs. As part of the program, fellows receive the following:
- Three years of support over a five-year period
- $30,000 annual stipend
- $12,000 cost-of-education allowance to The University of Texas at Austin
- International research and professional development opportunities
- XSEDE Supercomputer access
Several students were selected for the Graduate Research Fellowship Program GRFP in recent years. They include Rebecca Routson (2010), Mary Clayton (2011), Robert Crawford (2011), Jon Slowik (2012), Courtney Shell (2011), and Brady Stoll (2012). Annie Weathers is currently on a NSF diversity fellowship and will begin the GRFP in the fall.
Nicole is a student in the Neuromuscular Biomechanics Lab under the direction of Dr. Richard Neptune. She is currently investigating the relationships between specific design characteristics of ankle-foot orthoses (AFOs) and gait performance in patients with various neuromuscular and musculoskeletal disorders. AFOs are assistive devices commonly prescribed to improve mobility in individuals with muscle weakness or neural impairments in their lower limbs. By understanding the relationships between AFO designs and gait performance, she hopes to provide prescription guidelines for clinicians that ultimately improve patient rehabilitation outcomes. In the coming year, Nicole plans to begin her doctoral studies and expand on this work using advanced modeling and simulation techniques.
Nicole received her Bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and began her Master's in Mechanical Engineering in Fall of 2010.
Mary's research focuses on corporate water management for global organizations and is supervised by Dr. Michael Webber. Working with Hewlett-Packard (HP) Labs, this research project aims to develop a new approach to water reporting for corporate water uses in order to reduce their "water footprint". Comprehensive water, electricity, and gas metering data for HP Labs' Palo Alto Facility will be collected to model water use at a corporate site.
Mary received her Bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Austin in the Department of Mechanical Engineering in May 2011 and began her Master's in Mechanical Engineering in Fall of 2011. She began working in The Webber Energy Group as an undergraduate research assistant her senior year.
Robert is a Ph.D. student in the Thermal/Fluid Systems division of the Mechanical Engineering department. He received an Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) award from the National Science Foundation for sustainable grid integration of distributed and renewable resources. Robert focuses on the biomimicking of nature to be applied towards finding solutions for engineering problems. His engineering interests include porous media and microchannel flow. Currently, his research concentrates on using evaporation as a means of passively pumping fluid. The idea is derived from how plants move water from the soil to their leaves. It has applications for surface cooling and the dispersion of nutrients in microorganism farms.
Robert received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Villanova University in 2008 and 2010, respectively. He continues his studies at The University of Texas at Austin under the guidance of Dr. Alexandre K. da Silva and plans to graduate in August 2013.
Courtney is in the Neuromuscular Biomechanics Lab where she works on prosthetic foot design. Her research focuses on the influence of foot stiffness on amputee gait and maneuverability. By elucidating these relationships, Courtney hopes to provide quantitative rationale for prescribing specific feet for a given individual and developing more effective foot designs. The end goal of her work is to improve the rehabilitation outcomes for lower limb amputees and ultimately enhance their quality of life.
Courtney received her Bachelor's in Biomedical Engineering from Texas A&M University and began studying at The University of Texas at Austin in the Fall of 2010. She is advised by Dr. Richard Neptune and is currently working towards her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering.
Brady studies solar irradiances to determine how the amount of sunlight varies across the globe and through time in hopes of advancing solar power technology. She is also working to determine optimal ways of sizing solar power plants and storage facilities in order to make solar power more predictable and consistent in light of cloud cover and seasonal variations in sunlight.
Brady received her Bachelor's degree in Physics and Plan II from The University of Texas at Austin in 2010 and has since been a Mechanical Engineering graduate student under the supervision of Dr. Mark Deinert. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. after completing her Master's in May 2012.
Jon Slowik is an Master's student in the Neuromuscular Biomechanics Lab. His research focuses on the optimization of manual wheelchair propulsion techniques with the goal of reducing the development of upper limb pain and injury in wheelchair users. His initial project is examining the effect of seat position on upper extremity demand. Jon expects to complete his Master's degree this year and will then begin his doctoral program that will expand upon his Master's project using experimental and modeling techniques to develop improved wheelchair designs and rehabilitation programs.
Jon received his Bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from MIT in 2006. He worked at Orbital Sciences Corporation in Dulles, VA before beginning his graduate studies at The University of Texas at Austin in the fall of 2010. His advisor is Dr. Richard Neptune, Professor of Mechanical Engineering and the George and Dawn L. Coleman Centennial Fellow in Engineering.
Rebecca is in the Neuromuscular Biomechanics Lab and is advised by Dr. Richard Neptune. Her current research focuses on understanding the effect of impaired neuromotor control on gait performance in persons with post-stroke hemiparesis. The goal of her current work is to examine the influence of locomotor rehabilitation therapy on the biomechanics and neuromotor control of hemiparetic walking. She hopes that her work will provide further insight into the diverse compensation strategies used by persons post-stroke as well as provide clinicians with information that can be used to prescribe specific locomotor therapies to improve walking performance.
Rebecca received her Bachelor's and Master's degrees in mechanical engineering from the Ohio State University and began her current studies at The University of Texas at Austin in the fall of 2010.
Annie is a student in the Nanomaterials and Thermo-Fluids Laboratory in the Department of Mechanical Engineering under the direction of Professor Li Shi. Her research currently focuses on the thermal and electrical characterization of complex, thermoelectric nanostuctures made of earth abundant materials for use in automobile waste heat recovery. She plans to finish her Masters this year, and continue on for Ph.D working on similar problems of charge, heat and spin transport in nanoscale thermoelectric materials.
She received her B.S. in Physics from New York University in 2010, and began graduate study at The University of Texas at Austin in Fall 2010.