Clarkson University undergraduate students Sarah Duclos ’19, Rachel Yerden ’19, and Nikolas Lamb ’19, and graduate student Lara Varden, have been awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship for 2019. In addition, two Clarkson alumni also won awards: Dana Chapman ’17, now at Cornell University; and Michael Fulton ‘17, now at University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) received more than 12,000applications for the 2019 competition and made 2,050 awards. Awardees are evaluated on both their intellectual merit and potential to have a broader impact in both scientific research and society. NSF Fellows are expected to contribute significantly to research, teaching, and innovations in science and engineering fields.
Benefits of the award include a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance to the recipient’s choice of graduate institution. It provides opportunities for international research and professional development. The award also allows for freedom to conduct research of the recipient’s choosing at any accredited U.S. graduate institution.
Sarah Duclos ‘19, a graduate of Shenendehowa High School in Clifton Park, is a senior in the Honors Program majoring in mechanical engineering and minoring in biomedical engineering. She has conducted research in Professor of Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering Arthur Michalek's Connective Tissue Lab since the summer of 2016. Her work has focused on measuring residual strain in intervertebral discs and is published in the Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials. It was also selected as a finalist in the poster-teaser category at the 2017 Orthopedic Research Society Annual Meeting. Duclos' Honors Thesis is a culmination of her residual strain research and her recent work on how intervertebral disc structure and composition is affected by muscle loading. Last summer, Duclos participated in an REU at the University of Rochester, where she conducted research in a biomedical optics lab. After graduating from Clarkson in May, Duclos will start her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan.
Nikolas Lamb ’19is from Dryden, NY and is a Computer Science major. Lamb is one of only 16 students receiving the award in the “Comp/IS/Eng – Computational Science and Engineering” category and is the first Computer Science student at Clarkson to receive the GRFP award while still an undergraduate senior at Clarkson. Lamb is co-advised by Dr. Natasha Banerjee and Dr. Sean Banerjee at the Terascale All-sensing Research Studio (TARS), and he performs research in computational fabrication, with a focus on combining computer vision and graphics algorithms with 3D printing and scanning technologies. Upon graduating from Clarkson in May, Lamb will start his Ph.D. in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Lehigh University under the advisement of Dr. Chuah.
Lara Vardenis currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Interdisciplinary Biosciences and Biotechnology Program (IBB) in the Department of Biology. She is originally from Norwood, NY. She is co-mentored by Professors Arthur Michalek (Mechanical & Aeronautical Engineering), Shantanu Sur (Biology) and Thomas Lufkin (Biology). Her research is focused on intervertebral disc cellular physiology, biomechanics, and how aging results in disc degeneration leading to subsequent lower back pain.
Rachel Yerden ‘19is from Redfield, NY, and is a senior in the Department of Biology. She is mentored by Biology Professors Petra Kraus and Thomas Lufkin. Her research is focused on regenerative medicine approaches to reverse intervertebral disc degeneration and the design of synthetic scaffolds for disc tissue replacement. As an undergraduate, Yerden has already published three peer-reviewed papers with the Sur, Kraus, Lufkin labs since joining Clarkson University. Her post-graduation plans are obtaining an MD/Ph.D. in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering, working towards a career in clinical research.