The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Research Next Profiles Four Engineering Rising Researchers

2016 Rising Researchers

2016 Rising Researchers

2016 Rising Researchers from Engineering

Clockwise from top left: Gabriela Calinao Correa ’16, Gregory Forbes ’16, Michael Ng ’16, Natalie Mako ’17

Four College of Engineering undergraduate students were among the eight so-called “Rising Researchers” throughout the whole university campus as designated by the UMass Amherst website Research Next (Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity for a Brighter Future). All four engineering winners were recently profiled, along with the four other Rising Researchers from across the UMass campus, on Research Next. See entire article.

The four engineering winners are seniors Michael Ng and Gregory Forbes of the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering (MIE) Department, senior Gabriela Calinao Correa of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and Mathematics Departments, and junior Natalie Mako of the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department. More information about the award and previous recipients can be found on the Research Next website.

The Rising Researcher award, sponsored by the Vice Chancellor for University Relations and Research and Engagement, recognizes exceptional UMass Amherst undergraduate students who excel in research, scholarship, or creative activity.

Ng was nominated by MIE Professor Jon McGowan, and Forbes was nominated by MIE Professor Stephen Nonnenmann. ECE Professor Zlatan Aksaija nominated Correa, and ChE Professor Jessica Schiffman nominated Mako.

Read the Research Next Profiles for our four engineering students below:

Applied mathematics and electrical engineering major Gabriela Calinao Correa ’16 is being recognized for her dedicated pursuit of research with meaningful, tangible, and publishable results. Her senior honors thesis led to the development of a new computational model for heat transfer between 2-D van der Waals materials (such as graphene) blanketing 3-D substrates used in the semiconductor industry to build nanoelectronic devices. She gave a talk on this research at the fall 2015 Materials Research Society meeting in Boston, Massachusetts—a rare opportunity for an undergraduate researcher.

A veteran of four National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF REUs), Correa worked on one REU project to understand and track how energy from computations dissipate into heat at the atomic scale. Part of a larger project in the UMass Amherst Nanoelectronics Theory and Simulation Laboratory, her work is being deployed by the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center (MGHPCC) in Holyoke, Massachusetts. “Gabriela has quickly risen to the challenge and is making progress [on the MGHPCC project] which I fully expect will lead to significant publications in the future, adding to her already-rich curriculum vitae,” says faculty advisor Zlatan Aksamija.

Senior Gregory Forbes ’16 has an advanced appreciation for materials science. A passionate and dedicated researcher, Forbes designed and fabricated an electrochemical cell for the controlled anodization of high-purity metallic sheets. As a result of this work, he was accepted into the Northwestern University Materials Research Science and Engineering Center’s Research Experience for Undergraduates, perhaps the most prestigious of all materials-based REU programs in the country. Forbes has also traveled to Kenya with Engineers Without Borders to help install a water purification system, and he actively participates in the local Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. “Greg Forbes embodies everything you could ask for in an undergraduate researcher,” says faculty advisor Stephen Nonnenmann. “Beyond his obvious merit in the classroom, Greg possesses the drive and vision of an advanced scholar.”

Junior chemical engineering major Natalie Mako ’17 conducts interdisciplinary work in atomic force microscopy of hydrogels and biofilms. According to faculty advisor Jessica Schiffman, her consistency and precision in conducting the literature searches, bench science, and data analysis related to her research has resulted in a number of opportunities for Mako to present her research, including most recently at the regional American Institute of Chemical Engineers meeting. Mako has begun translating her data into a peer-reviewed manuscript that will be submitted to ACS Nano, a high-impact journal in the field. “Natalie Mako is an incredibly well-rounded, humble superstar,” says Schiffman. “She is a member of Commonwealth Honors College, recipient of the John and Abigail Adams Scholarship for academic achievement, she received the Bausch and Lomb Honorary Science Award, and she is a competitive member of the UMass Division 1 track and cross-country teams,” adds Schiffman.

Senior Michael Ng ’16 is being recognized for his distinguished achievements and research skills dedicated to applied research in automotive technology and sustainable green research. The mechanical engineering major’s achievements include conducting research on a novel automotive semiactive damping system as a summer Research Experience for Undergraduates candidate at Virginia Tech’s Center for Tire Research. Ng is coauthor of a technical paper on performance measurements of vehicle anti-lock braking systems, which was presented at the 2015 Society of Automotive Engineers conference. For his senior honors thesis, he is conducting research on the technical and economic feasibility of using wind-energy-produced ammonia as a storable clean fuel to replace gasoline in internal combustion engines. According to his faculty advisor Jon McGowan, Ng’s creative ability on this project demonstrates that he is already an outstanding scientific researcher. “In my 45-plus years as a professor in mechanical engineering, I would rate Mr. Ng as one, if not the best, outstanding undergraduate student I have supervised, taught, or know at UMass Amherst,” says McGowan. (April 2016)