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SFAz Harnesses Brain Power for State

August 14, 2008

Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) has awarded forty Graduate Research Fellowships (GRFs) totaling $3.5 million to top science and engineering graduate students at Arizona State University (ASU). This is the second year SFAz is funding the GRF Program, the largest of its kind in the United States, to provide a pipeline of talented research fellows with the potential to become Arizona innovation leaders and advance the competitive research capacity of the state in information and communications technology, sustainable systems, and biomedical research. 

SFAz Graduate Research Fellowships are awarded for up to two consecutive years to outstanding local and international graduate students in science, engineering and biomedical research and contribute to the state’s growing knowledge-based sectors.  Candidates are nominated by the academic institutions. SFAz fellowships cover research costs, expenses and full tuition up to $40,000 annually.

One hundred new fellowships totaling $8.8 million were awarded to three Arizona universities including ASU, Northern Arizona University (NAU) and University of Arizona (UofA). These investments challenge the universities to set quality standards for their graduate research institutions and to transform competent programs into globally innovative models.  

“The Science Foundation Arizona fellowships have allowed ASU, and our other sister institutions in Arizona, to compete nationally and globally for the brightest and best Ph.D. students in the sciences and engineering,” says Maria Allison, ASU Vice Provost and Dean of the Graduate College.  “The forward-thinking leaders who have helped build this program for Arizona understand the critical role that graduate students play in building the research engines that power tomorrow’s industry and economy.”

“In the 21st Century, it is all about brain power,” commented William Harris, president and CEO of Science Foundation Arizona.   “Now, with a total of 180 first and second year Graduate Fellows, SFAz has the largest non-federally funded graduate research fellowship program in the United States focusing on science and engineering.  That is a brain power pipeline that creates excellence for our universities and ensures our state’s future competitiveness.”                                          

Some of the research conducted by first year GRF students includes:

Better physical therapy for stroke survivors is a goal for Jeffrey Boyd, a doctoral student in Computer Science and Engineering who works in the Arts Media and Engineering (AME) Biofeedback lab. He has a fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and a technology grant from Intel Research for portable sensing devices.

Celeste Riley, pursuing a Ph.D. in Bioengineering, combines physics, medicine, chemistry and other disciplines in her search for better clinical treatments for aneurysms.

Four SFAz fellows at ASU’s Biodesign Institute are working on "Tubes in the Desert," an initiative to develop a renewable form of biofuel using photosynthetic microorganisms called cyanobacteria. The technology promises a much greater yield than corn or other plant-based approaches.

Mark Reese, a doctoral student in electrical engineering, is working with ASU’s Advanced Helicopter Electromagnetics (AHE) program to improve design of antennas on airborne communication, search and rescue vehicles, primarily helicopters.





Michele St George



Sheilah Britton



ASU’s forty SFAz Graduate Research Fellows for 2008-2009 are:

Nohea Arkus, Biological Design

Michael Bell, Physics

Justin Brown, Biomedical Informatics

Rita Chattopadhyay, Computing and Informatics

Jessica Corman, School of Life Sciences/Biology

Ann Dallman, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Colby, Dawson, Physics

Michael DiNezza, Electrical Engineering

Kyle Doudrick, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Yunus Emre, Electrical Engineering

Aaron Hansen, Physics

Erica Hartmann, Biological Design

Stephen Herman, Electrical Engineering

Robert Matthew Horner, Sustainability

Berkay Kanberoglu, Electrical Engineering

Alper Karul, Chemical Engineering

Nicole Lehrer, Bioengineering /Arts, Media and Engineering

Jeffrey Liao, School of Life Sciences /Microbiology

Charla Lindle, Bioengineering

Ziyang Liu, Computer Science and Engineering

Nathan Marine, Mechanical and  Aerospace Engineering

John Carter McKnight, Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology

Robert John Meyers, Sustainability

Derek Overstreet, Bioengineering

Carlos Perez, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Cynthia Pierce, Bioengineering

Stephen Romaniello, School of Earth and Space Exploration

Fariya Sharif, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Benjamin Sherman, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Kartik Talamadupula, Computer Science and Engineering

Catherine Vuong, Bioengineering /Arts, Media and Engineering

Evelyn Walters, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Jun Wang, Civil and Environmental Engineering

Wei Wang, Chemistry and Biochemistry

John Westerdale, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Mark Witt, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Josh Wray, School of Life Sciences

Karl Wyant, School of Life Sciences /Biology

Fengze Xie, Computer Science and Engineering

Zhao Zhao, Chemistry and Biochemistry


About Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz):

With the mission of spurring new innovation in Arizona and developing a diversified, robust knowledge-driven research and education infrastructure, SFAz, a 501 (C) (3) public/private partnership, has to date awarded $33.6 million in 59 innovation investments in information and communications technology, sustainable systems and biomedical research.  In just one year, these investments have demonstrated clear strategic advantages to Arizona by attracting an additional $43.8 million in outside research dollars, seeding the development of eight new companies, and fostering science, engineering and math skills in over 10,000 students statewide.

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