Kira Egelhofer has been selected as the next recipient of the Rosaria Haugland Graduate Research Fellowship. The Fellowship, established by Dr. Rosaria Haugland in 2004, is awarded every three years by the UO Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry to an outstanding graduate student in Chemistry. It covers the recipient’s stipend, tuition, and miscellaneous fees for a three-year period. Kira was selected from a pool of applicants by a faculty committee who were impressed by Kira’s science and her work to engage women and minorities in STEM.
Kira grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, with a passion for nature and outdoor learning. In high school, a tough-but-inspiring female science teacher sparked Kira’s interest in chemistry, and led her to pursue an undergraduate degree in Chemistry at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, with a thesis project in Environmental Chemistry.
Kira entered the UO chemistry PhD program in 2015, and jump-started her studies in solar energy by taking masters courses the preceding summer that were offered by the UO masters internship program, and taught by Fuding Lin, Benjamin Alemán, Jim Hutchison, and Mark Lonergan.
Now in her third year, Kira is a member of the Lonergan lab. Her research involves measuring the selectivity and recombination of contacts to solar cells. “We are interested in these parameters because they impact solar cell efficiency,” Kira explains. “More specifically, I seek to understand how and why very thin layers of semiconducting or insulating materials inserted between the bulk material and contact of the solar cell impact selectivity and recombination. This information helps us rationally design solar cells with improved characteristics, such as efficiency.”
In addition to her research, Kira has been a member of the UO Women in Graduate Sciences since her first term at the UO. The goal of WGS is to involve and retain more women in the sciences. Kira enjoys the opportunity to promote science with K-12 students, young adults, and the wider community through a variety of WGS outreach activities. She currently serves as the organization’s Fundraising Chair, and is looking forward to their hosting a visit from Astronaut Wendy Lawrence for WGS’s annual fundraiser in March.
As for what the future might hold after completing her doctoral degree, Kira has no firm plans, but a few possibilities appeal to her – such as writing for scientific journals with a focus on communicating science to the general public, or working in solar energy research and development, perhaps even for NASA or SpaceX.
– By Leah O’Brien
The Phil and Penny Knight Campus for Accelerating Scientific Impact may not have broken ground yet, but its impact got a jump start by sponsoring five, $500 Knight Campus Student Innovation Fellowships for underrepresented students in STEM disciplines who participated in the Sustainable Invention workshop that kicked off the 2017-18 academic year.
The week-long workshop, titled Sustainable Invention Immersion Week, took place September 10-15th at 942 Olive Street, the UO’s innovation hub in downtown Eugene. Participating students had the opportunity to learn from experts in design, business, chemistry and communication as they worked in interdisciplinary teams to create their own green product over the course of the event. The teams then pitched their product ideas to win funding to move their idea forward. Awards were given for the top four product ideas.
The five Innovation Fellowship recipients were Genevieve Dorrell (undergrad, biochemistry), Carl Hartzell (post bac, physics), Ruth Maust (graduate student, chemistry), Makenna Pennel (undergrad, chemistry, honors college) and Pallavi Webb (undergrad, CIS). The fellowship funds could be used to offset academic expenses such as tuition, books, school supplies and travel to scientific meetings.
The workshop was organized by professor Julie Haack, the assistant department head of the UO’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Kate Harmon, the undergraduate program manager and management instructor at the Lundquist Center for Entrepreneurship. Their goal is for Sustainable Invention Immersion Week to become an annual event, with a changing theme that will be tied to what’s happening at the Knight Campus.
Meet our 2017 Chemistry and Biochemistry Scholarship Recipients – Madi Scott, Ashlee Vise & Cyrus Waters
The UO Chemistry and Biochemistry department has announced the recipients of our 2017 undergraduate scholarships. Madi Scott was awarded the Faith Van Nice Scholarship, and Ashlee Vise received the Kuntz-Swinehart Memorial Scholarship, and Cyrus Waters was selected for the Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society (SAACS) Summer Research Award.
The Faith Van Nice Scholarship is dedicated to the memory of alumna Faith Van Nice, and recognizes exceptional UO undergraduate students majoring in Chemistry or Biochemistry. This year’s recipient, Madi Scott, is a Chemistry major beginning her sophomore year in the Clark Honors College. She grew up in Medford, Oregon, with a strong interest in math, science and medicine. Madi joined the Cathy Wong lab halfway through her freshman year, and is particularly interested in how physical chemistry research applications can be used to make medical devices more effective and affordable, allowing for greater access to people who need them. She was very surprised to be selected for the Faith van nice scholarship, and feels honored to have the opportunity to share in Faith’s legacy. Madi plans to pursue a PhD or MD after completing her B.S. in Chemistry.
The Kuntz-Swinehart Memorial Scholarship is meant to recognize and encourage academic excellence in our majors, and was established by former UO Chemistry students in honor of two professors whose instruction, influence and inspiration had a significant impact on their career paths. Our 2017 recipient, Ashlee Vise is from Scottsdale, Arizona, and a chemistry major entering her senior year. She has been conducting undergraduate research in the Shannon Boettcher lab since the fall of her sophomore year. Her research involves renewable energy, focusing on the development of catalysts to produce zero-emission hydrogen fuel. Ashlee’s passion for nature inspires her interest in green chemistry and sustainable practices, and she hopes to take that passion and apply it to her career. She got off to a good start this summer, as an intern for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Denver, Colorado. After completing her baccalaureate degree, Ashlee plans to take a gap year before pursuing an MS or PhD.
The SAACS Summer Research Awards are sponsored by the UO chapter of the Student Affiliates of the American Chemical Society. Now in their third year, the annual awards seek to support chemistry and biochemistry majors’ ability to engage in research during the summer term. This year’s recipient, Cyrus Waters, is from Beaverton, Oregon. When choosing a university, Cyrus says it was a toss-up between UO and OSU, but in the end, the Ducks won out. A Biochemistry major in his senior year, he is making the most out of undergraduate research opportunities in the Ramesh Jasti lab. Cyrus’ research involves organic synthesis, designing molecules with properties that are applicable for use in solar cells. After completing his undergraduate degree, Cyrus is considering entering the UO Masters Industrial Internship Program, on the Polymer Science track.
– by Leah O’Brien
Three UO Chemistry and Biochemistry undergraduates will be participating in the 2017 McNair Scholar Symposium. Everyone is invited to attend the symposium and to hear our students present their research.
1:00PM – David M. Lee, Leafcutter Ants Inside the Nest Have Sharper Mandibles than Ants Outside the Nest
2:30PM – Lindan Comrada, Markers of Cardiovascular Health in Chronic Marijuana Smokers
3:00PM – Trenton M. Peters-Clark, Increasing the Efficiency of a Biotin-Streptavidin Pull Down for An Investigation of Pt(II)-Protein Interactions
Read their Abstracts here.
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About the McNair Scholar Symposium
The University of Oregon celebrates the research achievements of its McNair Scholars during the annual McNair Symposium. These achievements are made possible by faculty mentors who guide Scholars through scholarship activities and help prepare them for the challenges and culture of graduate school.
McNair Scholars participate in paid summer research internships in their fields of study. During the internships, students are involved in original research culminating in a presentation of their findings. Held winter term, the McNair Symposium provides a public forum for students to share their work with peers, mentors, faculty and staff, family members, and the general public.
Sarah Hashiguchi first became interested the connection between product design and chemistry when she took CH 114 Green Product Design, a course designed and taught by UO Chemistry and Biochemistry Sr. Instructor Julie Haack. That interest led Sarah, a Clark Honors College student, to pursue a Product Design major with a minor in Chemistry, and for Dr. Haack to help arrange for Sarah to meet with one of the head chemists at Nike to learn more about working in the field.
Sarah got an opportunity to put her knowledge into practice when, after Assistant Professor of Product Design Beth Esponnette won a 2016 Faculty Research Award for her proposal to explore chemical-reactive 3-D printing, she hired Sarah to assist her with her research.
Read more in the Oregon Quarterly piece, Fashion Statement – Collaborative Reseach
Last June, the UO Chemistry and Biochemistry department selected the recipients of our undergraduate scholarships for the 2016-17 academic year. Ainsley Taylor was awarded the Faith Van Nice Scholarship, and Brian Drury received the Kuntz-Swinehart Memorial Scholarship. (more…)