Doctoral students Akshaya Shanmugam of the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department and Jalil Johnson from the School of Nursing have been named the 2012-2013 Hluchyj Fellows at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. The Hluchyj Graduate Fellowship was started by Dr. Michael Hluchyj, a 1979 alumnus of the Electrical and Computer Engineering, and his wife, Theresa "Terry" Hluchyj, a 1977 alumna from the School of Nursing. The fellowship supports two graduate students per year in the College of Engineering and the School of Nursing with annual stipends of $25,000 so they can do interdisciplinary research in the area of clinical healthcare.

The Hluchyjs come to campus on September 20 for an annual event to celebrate the new Hluchyj Fellows, the growing family of 10 scholars spawned by the Hluchyj Fellowship and the collaboration between the College of Engineering and School of Nursing. The Hluchyjs designed the fellowships to combine their backgrounds and personal priorities in engineering and nursing. "Fellows will work on research projects from both disciplines," the fellowship stipulates, "seeking solutions to real problems in the clinical setting using engineering-based approaches."

Shanmugam has been working in the Biomedical Electronics Laboratory of Christopher Salthouse, the Dev and Linda Gupta Assistant Professor in the ECE department. She has been the primary graduate student responsible for developing protocols in Salthouse's lab for cell culture, cell staining, fluorescence imaging of cells in conventional microscopy, and packaging of integrated circuits for lensless imaging. For her master's thesis, she developed a low-cost method for making quantitative measurements of cellular fluorescence. In her Ph.D. thesis, she will adapt this development into a device for point-of-care medical use. Shanmugam came to UMass Amherst from Meenakshi Sundararajan Engineering College in Chennai, India.

Johnson is a doctoral student in the School of Nursing who obtained a master's degree from the Graduate School of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts Worcester after earning a BSN degree at Middle Tennessee State University. At UMass Worcester Johnson specialized as an Adult Primary Care Nurse Practitioner. Among other certifications, Johnson is a Registered Nurse in both Massachusetts and Tennessee and a Licensed Practical Nurse. Since June of 2010, Johnson has been a fulltime Adult Nurse Practitioner in Internal Medicine at the High Street Health Center in Springfield, Mass.

Dr. and Mrs. Hluchyj, who live in Wellesley, Mass., funded their fellowship with key healthcare issues in mind. "We are excited to be funding these new fellowships to support cross-disciplinary research in clinical healthcare," said Theresa Hluchyj when the fellowship was established in 2008. "Quality healthcare ranks among the most important issues our society faces, and the collaborative research initiatives between nursing and engineering at UMass Amherst can make a real difference."