Inside Rensselaer
Recent Student Honors
The outstanding work of Rensselaer students continues to bring national recognition to the students themselves, as well as to their professors and the Institute overall. Following are some recent awards, honors, and achievements of our students:

Nabeel Ali, a sophomore in the biomedical engineering department, has recently been named an Amgen Scholar by the University of California, Berkeley. Ali is one of 24 students selected from a pool of more than 700 applicants, and one of only six sophomores invited to participate in the prestigious international program. This summer, Ali will have the opportunity to conduct research at UC Berkeley alongside some of the world’s leading academic scientists. At the conclusion of the program, Ali and the other Amgen Scholars will attend a three-day symposium in Los Angeles to share their summer research projects.

Murad Mithani, a doctoral student in management, presented a poster titled “Firm Survival and the Dynamics of Competition in the Display Industry” recently at the Smart Lighting ERC Industry-Academia Day, held at Rensselaer’s core partner Boston University. The poster was selected as the winner by ERC’s industrial advisory board and Mithani received a $400 cash prize. The paper was co-authored with Professors Susan Walsh Sanderson (management) and Ken Simons (economics). The study examined long-term performance and participation by U.S. and Japanese firms in the global liquid crystal display industry. This study has implications for firms developing innovative LED and OLED technologies and challenges them to find ways to persist in markets characterized by high uncertainty but where lack of persistence may undermine future competitiveness.

Sanjeev Rao, a second-year Ph.D. student in the Nature Inspired Chemical Engineering (NICE) group of Professor Marc-Olivier Coppens in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, received a Young Researcher Award to present his research results at the 21st International Symposium for Chemical Reaction Engineering (ISCRE) in Philadelphia this June. The biennial ISCRE meeting is the prime conference for chemical reaction engineering in the world. Rao’s work focuses on the design and synthesis of porous catalysts with a hierarchical structure that is inspired by the veinal architecture of leaves, the structure of the lungs and other biological networks. His work continues the successful research by former graduate student Gang Wang, who was a Lemelson-Rensselaer Prize finalist in 2008. Porous catalysts are used in numerous processes for the production of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, in refineries, and in energy and environmental applications. The objective of Rao’s research is to increase the activity and lifetime of these catalysts.

Priscilla Paul, a graduate student in chemical engineering, won the first-place poster prize at the National Society of Black Engineers Annual National Convention, in Toronto, March 31-April 4, for her poster titled “Expression and Characterization of Enzymes for Bioenzymatic Synthesis of Heparin.” Paul is part of the research team of Jonathan Dordick, the Howard P. Isermann Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Robert Linhardt, the Ann and John H. Broadbent Jr. ’59 Senior Constellation Professor of Biocatalysis and Metabolic Engineering. The group is working to replace the animal-derived heparin that was subject to a contamination crisis in 2007-2008 with a non-animal derived bioengineered generic heparin. Paul is researching ways to develop in-process assays for enzymes used in the manufacture of this generic heparin.

Sumanth Jamadagni (who is part of the research groups of Professors Shekhar Garde and Jonathan Dordick) and Hari Acharya (Garde group) received a joint fellowship from the National Science Foundation and the Royal Society of Chemistry, London, to attend Faraday Discussion 146, a unique conference of the Royal Society. Jamadagni and Acharya were selected for this prestigious fellowship based on their research on the hydration and interaction of biological interfaces. Both students presented posters as well as participated in the discussion.

A paper based on their joint work with another student, Srivathsan Vembanur, as well as text of the discussion will appear in the special issue “146” of Faraday Discussions. Jamadagni will defend his thesis in late April and will join the Procter and Gamble Company.

Two Rensselaer student teams took part in the seventh Information Security Talent Search held March 20 by the Security Practices and Research Student Association (SPARSA) in Rochester. The Rensselaer teams placed first and second. Rensselaer students who participated in the competition are: Team 2—Alex Radocea ’11, Joe Werther ’10, Rob Escriva ’10, and Ben Boeckel ’11. Team 3—Ryan Govostes ’11, Adam Comella ’11, Shawn Denbow ’13, Andrew Zonenberg ’12, and Jay Smith ’10. The main event featured teams defending a network of five servers running various operating systems. Throughout the competition, team members were issued “injects,” time-sensitive assignments such as reconfiguring software or adding new services. In addition, the teams were also tasked with attacking the other teams, with the ultimate goal of knocking their services offline. A “red team” of security professionals simultaneously attacked all of the teams. At the end of the competition, Team 2—the smallest team in the competition—took home first place; Team 3 came in second place.

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Inside Rensselaer
Volume 4, Number 8, April 30, 2010
©2010 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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