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NSF GRFP Awardees Announced


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 program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.

This year, five ME graduate students are recipients of the 2024 awards. Read their brief bios and descriptions of their research endeavors below.

Eugene Kochergin

Eugene Kochergin is an intrigued mechanical engineering graduate student at the University of Michigan scouting for a career in research. He has extensive research experience starting from undergrad, where he specialized in simulating and interpreting mathematical models of complex real world phenomena such as disease spreading or vehicle slipping. Now, he works on developing evasive steering solutions for autonomous vehicles at different speeds and terrain. There, he gets to study how tire nonlinearities affect where and how the vehicle travels.

“For autonomous vehicles to be trusted to operate at high speeds or on difficult terrain, they must be capable of recovering from dangerous situations encountered in those conditions,” Kochergin said. “My specific research goal is in exploring whether or not Koopman Operator based Contingent Model Predictive Control can be reliably utilized to create strides in safe, adaptive, robust, and computationally efficient lateral controllers with potential applications towards safe autonomous off road driving.”

Advised by Bogdan Epureanu and Tulga Ersal

Chae Woo Lim

Chae Woo Lim is a SUGS Master’s student in Mechanical Engineering. He is a member of the Evolution and Motion of Biology and Robotics lab, led by Dr. Talia Moore, and the Image-Guided Medical Robotics Lab, led by Dr. Mark Draelos.

Lim said, “My research focuses on utilizing soft robotics for medical applications. Soft surgical robots have the potential to conduct complex surgical tasks with increased safety, reduced invasiveness, and faster recovery times compared to rigid medical robots and devices. The work I proposed was to develop a novel way of navigating the cerebrovascular pathways to conduct percutaneous coronary intervention for ischemic stroke prevention.”

“I am truly honored to be awarded the NSF GRFP fellowship. I am especially grateful for my advisors, instructors, and friends who have supported me throughout my research journey. I am excited to use this opportunity to create innovative solutions that can improve the safety and effectiveness of medical procedures.”

Maggie Zhang

Maggie Zhang is a first year Mechanical Engineering PhD Student in the Evolution and Motion of Biology and Robotics (EMBiR) Lab advised by Dr. Talia Moore. Her current research focuses on leveraging the unique biomechanical abilities of animals for designing improvements in robotic locomotion. In addition to her work with animal biomechanics, she is also focused on designing assistive care devices for animals at the Detroit Zoo and Zoo Atlanta. Prior to her doctoral studies, Maggie earned her Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering with a minor in German from Georgia Tech.

“Bio-inspired design is a commonly explored method for developing new and novel robotics, but is traditionally focused towards an exterior mimic of motion rather than true function,” Zhang said. “My goal is to study the anatomy of animals with tail-like appendages in hopes of informing a new method to optimize design choices in creating continuum robots and expand the applications of these new robotics.”

Advised by Talia Moore

Lorenzo Franceschetti

Lorenzo Franceschetti is a first-year PhD student from Knoxville, Tennessee. He graduated from the University of Tennessee in 2023 with a B.S. in aerospace engineering. His research has focused on high-temperature thermal management. As an intern at a nuclear company, he worked on energy transport and storage technology.

Franceschetti said, “The efficiency of modern energy technology, such as solar cells or light-emitting diodes (LEDs), is limited by the undesirable generation of waste heat. In my research with the Heat Transfer Physics group, I am exploring innovative methods to recycle waste heat in LEDs to improve their electricity-to-light conversion efficiency. I am grateful to have received the NSF award so that I may concentrate on this research and try to make an impact on the quest for new, efficient, and sustainable technologies.”

Advised by Massoud Kaviany

Eric Roman

Eric Roman’s research focuses on the lithium metal/solid electrolyte interface in solid state batteries. His past research experiences have been at the Illinois State Geological Survey, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is passionate about the energy transition, having done research in carbon capture, power electronics for electric vehicles, and electric vehicle chargers.

Advised by Neil Dasgupta

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