The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Dean's Fellows

The Dean's Fellow program recognizes outstanding new PhD students that are entering the College of Engineering. These students have unlimited potential, as shown by their impressive backgrounds. Congratulations to the Dean's Fellow class of 2019-20!


2019-2020 Fellows


Chemical Engineering


Connor Giles
Giles graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a Bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. They will be conducting research into the relationship between the therapeutic niche and cancer relapse in Jungwoo Lee’s lab. Currently, Connor is interested in implementing techniques such as intravital imaging and biomaterial implantation to investigate properties of the metastatic niche.


Lars Howell
Lars received their BS in Biomedical Engineering and Mathematics from Tufts University. Their past research experience includes developing modular micro-electrode arrays to study neuron interaction. Their research interests include bacterial engineering, immunology, and drug delivery. They are working in Prof. Neil Forbes’ group engineering Salmonella to treat cancerous tumors. In their spare time they play roller derby and bake bread.


Isaac Ogabiela
Isaac obtained his Bachelors in Chemical Engineering from the Federal University of Technology, Minna in Nigeria. His research work revolved around renewable energy systems and biomass upgrade to fuels. Prior to his admission to graduate school, he served as a lean six sigma coordinator at DUFIL Prima Foods Plc, Lagos Nigeria; where he facilitated several process improvement projects. Currently, he is working under Professor Friederike Jentoft focusing on the application of various heterogeneous catalysts to Adol reactions.



Civil and Environmental Engineering


Andrew DelSanto
DelSanto joined UMass in the fall of 2019 pursuing a PhD in Civil Engineering, specializing in Environmental Water Resources Engineering. He has a Bachelor of Science in both Applied Mathematics and Civil Engineering from Roger Williams University. Before graduate school, Andrew spent a year in Washington D.C. working for Clark Construction in their Project Development department, specializing in project budgeting and client relations. He currently works with Dr. Richard Palmer and the Northeast Climate Adaptation Science Center estimating future floods, droughts, and streamflows using publicly available data and future climate change scenarios for the New England area.


Ian Graham
Graham received a BS in Civil Engineering, with an environmental concentration, from the University of Notre Dame in 2013. He worked for a consulting engineering company in Plano, TX for five and half years, earning his professional engineers license in 2018. He is currently a first year PhD student and his research interest is the biological treatment of wastewater using biofilms. He works in Dr. Butler’s research group.


Emily Hennessy
Hennessy is a professional engineer from Monmouth County, NJ. She completed her B.S. in civil engineering at The College of New Jersey in 2015, where she participated in hydrologic research. Upon graduating, she began working as a transportation engineer at FPA Engineers while attending Rutgers University, where she graduated with her M.S. in civil engineering in January 2019. Her thesis there considered a case study of bypass road feasibility with respect to environmental and economic impacts. As a Dean’s Fellow at the University of Massachusetts, Emily seeks to research roadway network flood risk and mitigation in response to climate change.


Alyssa Ryan
Ryan is a Ph.D. student in Transportation Engineering and advised by Dr. Michael Knodler. Through her previous undergraduate and Master’s research work, Alyssa completed a variety of transportation safety projects, ranging from driver distraction research in the Human Performance Laboratory Driving Simulator to traffic data collection using unmanned aerial systems. She has presented her research at numerous national and international conferences, as well publish journal articles. Alyssa’s Ph.D. dissertation will focus on rural versus urban roadway safety with an emphasis on locally owned roadways, where a disproportionate number of serious crashes occur. Since this past fall, she has enjoyed working with undergraduates in the Transportation Operations & Safety Research Team on a variety of safety research projects.



Electrical and Computer Engineering


Nagarjun Bhat
Bhat graduated from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor with a MSEE in 2015 with a focus on Electromagnetics and RF Circuits. After graduation he was employed as an Antenna and RF Design engineer at Motorola and other companies, where he worked on the design of low form factor antennas for cellular devices. He is a first year PhD student at the Microwave Remote Sensing Laboratory (MIRSL) in the ECE Department under the guidance of Dr. Paul Siqueira. His research interests include exploring space-borne Synthetic Aperture Radar systems and their applications to science and civilian missions.


Yi Huang
Huang obtained his BS in System Engineering and MS in Control Science both at Huazhong University of Science and Technology. His past research involved circuit design and simulation of artificial neural networks, associative memory networks, and hierarchical temporal memory based on emerging devices. He is a Ph.D. student in Professor Qiangfei Xia’s research group, and his current research focuses on the algorithm and circuit design for memristor-based deep neural network(DNN) accelerators.


Luke Kipfer
Kipfer received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Milwaukee School of Engineering. His past research includes characterizing photonic bandgap (PBG) structures to improve antenna array scan volume by mitigating scan blindness. Currently, his research is on 5G antenna technologies and electromagnetic propagation, mainly working on a passive ultra-wideband beamformer and radial power divider in a compact package that is capable of continuous beam scanning and generating multiple beams for massive MIMO applications. He is a Ph.D. student in Professor Marinos Vouvakis’ research group.


Jezabel Vilardell Sanchez
Vilardell Sanchez received her undergraduate degree in Telecommunications Systems Engineering at the Politechnic University of Catalonia (UPC) in Barcelona, Spain. She came to UMass Amherst first as a visiting scholar to complete her undergraduate senior thesis on “Data Processing of a Polarimetric X-Band Phased Array Weather Radar”. Afterwards, she stayed at UMass and received an Electrical and Computer Engineering Master of Science degree. Her master’s thesis was “The UMass Experimental X-Band Radar (UMaXX): An Upgrade of the CASA MA-1 to Support Cross-Polarization Measurements”.

She is a Ph.D. student in Professor Stephen Frasier’s group, and her current research is on the study of windspeed and rain rate in high gradient regions of hurricanes and high-latitude winter storms in collaboration with NOAA NESDIS/STAR using the UMass Simultaneous Frequency Microwave Radiometer deployed on board of the NOAA P-3 aircraft.


Jun Yin
Before becoming a PhD student of the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at UMass Amherst, Yin graduated from Tsinghua University with a Master's degree in material science and engineering. His past research experience includes advanced material characterization, chemistry and physics of nanoelectronics and ionic mechanism of synaptic semiconductor nanodevice. He has held two Chinese patents and published several peer-reviewed papers about nanoelectronics in top journals and the cumulative impact factor is more than 60. He currently works in Professor Joshua Yang's group and focuses on the design and fabrication of advanced ionic memristive device and memristive integrated array for neuromorphic computing.



Mechanical and Industrial Engineering


Jacob Davis
Davis earned his Bachelor’s Degree in mechanical engineering here at UMass Amherst. Currently, he is a graduate student in the Ocean Resources and Renewable Energy group advised by Professor Krish Thiagarajan Sharman. His research interests lie in the application of hydrodynamics to offshore wind and wave energy, as well as the study of biofouling on mooring lines for floating platforms and aquaculture systems. Jacob is an active member of the MIE Department’s Graduate Student Leadership Council as well as the Researchers, Educators, and Business Leaders network which is focused on mentoring undergraduate students through the high school-college and college-workforce transitions. Outside of school he enjoys hobbies such as art, cooking, and performing as a musician.