Seven graduate students recognized with University awards

April 6, 2023

By Liam Jackson

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Penn State News.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Forty Penn State graduate students, seven of whom are students in the College of Engineering, were named recipients of Penn State’s annual graduate student awards, administered by the Graduate School in collaboration with several Penn State units. The awards recognize and celebrate graduate students who are excelling in teaching, research and service, as well as other academic pursuits.

“This year’s award recipients have made an astounding impact, and they are deserving of recognition,” said Kathy Drager, interim dean of the Graduate School and vice provost for Graduate Education. “Whether they are developing new materials for energy storage, mentoring undergraduates in how to excel in research or studying ways to design more sustainable refugee camps, these graduate students represent some of the highest caliber of academic excellence at Penn State.”

Below is more information on the seven students pursuing degrees in the College of Engineering who were recognized.

Alumni Association Dissertation Award

Thirteen graduate students received the Alumni Association Dissertation Award. This honor recognizes outstanding professional accomplishment and achievement in scholarly research and is among the most prestigious available to Penn State graduate students. The College of Engineering students were:

Lauren Dennis, civil engineering with a dual title in climate science

Atip Lawanprasert, bioengineering*

To learn more about these students and the impact of their research, view the 2023 Alumni Association Dissertation Award announcement.

Harold F. Martin Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Award

Ten graduate students were recognized with the Harold F. Martin Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Award, which recognizes graduate teaching assistants for outstanding teaching performance. The College of Engineering student was Ankit Saxena, doctoral student in mechanical engineering.

To learn more about these students and their teaching accomplishments, view the 2023 Harold F. Martin Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Award announcement.

Graduate Student Service Award

Hamidul Haque, a master’s student in agricultural and biological engineering, received the Graduate Student Service Award, which recognizes a graduate student who has best-combined high academic achievement with leadership in University or other public activities. The award is sponsored by Penn State’s Office of Student Leadership and Involvement. Haque’s research focuses on water quality impact of sustainable agricultural waste management. He has taken on many leadership roles at Penn State, including vice president of the Agricultural and Biological Engineering Graduate Student Council, a member of his department’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee, and a graduate student representative of the University Park Allocation Committee.  

Harold K. Schilling Dean’s Graduate Scholarship

Two students — Desirae Major, doctoral student in aerospace engineering, and Xiaoyue Zhao, doctoral student in mechanical engineering — received the Harold Schilling Dean’s Graduate Scholarship, which recognizes outstanding graduate students whose course of study is relevant to science, religion and ethics, or whose studies involve critical societal benefits such as improvement of health, environment or energy.

Major is exploring ways to design offshore wind farms that are cost-effective as an alternative to carbon-based fuels. A trend in windfarm development is the increasing size of the turbines, which provides more power. A larger size creates more structural fatigue, and Major is trying to develop ways to optimize turbine design to account for size and efficiency. Major has presented her work at multiple international wind energy conferences and is also a member of Penn State’s Collegiate Wind Energy student team.

Zhao studies alternative methods of harvesting energy for medical and electronic devices. She is looking at ways to develop and design materials that can harvest electricity through contact with each other. This new energy harvesting technology, known as triboelectric nanogeneration, can serve as flexible, portable, cost effective and light power sources for devices. Zhao’s dissertation research is focused on understanding the effect of material properties on the triboelectric behavior of polymer and its composite. 

AT&T Graduate Fellowship

Sujay Hosur, doctoral student in electrical engineering, is the recipient of the AT&T Graduate Fellowship, which recognizes outstanding Penn State graduate students who are conducting research in wireless data applications. Hosur is investigating the design and development of circuits and systems needed for implantable medical devices that have beneficial health applications, such as a neural stimulators, and spinal cord implants to help patients recover from injuries and regain motor abilities. Hosur’s research focuses on ways to wirelessly power these devices and securely communicate with them using magnetic fields and ultrasound. 

Nominations for 2023-24 graduate student awards will be due in the fall 2023 semester. For more information, visit the Graduate School’s student awards webpage.

*The bioengineering program is now known as the biomedical engineering program.

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