Student News

Charlotte Chen Receives Grant from NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program

Charlotte Chen
Charlotte Chen '24

Charlotte Chen ’24 (ENG & CLAS), a senior from Westport, pursuing dual degrees in biomedical engineering and molecular and cell biology has received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) grant. Her research in the lab of IMS Polymer Program Director and Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Kelly Burke aims to modify silk films with antibacterial monomers to potentially prevent catheter-associated urinary tract infections.

“Being awarded an NSF-GRFP means that I get a lot more freedom with my doctoral studies– what my research project is, who my research advisors are, and where I want to conduct the research,” says Chen.

She served as president and as a conductor in UConn’s chamber orchestra and played violin in the symphony orchestra. She was a recipient of the Wiliam P. O’Hara Endowed Scholarship which provides funding for an honors student who demonstrates academic achievement, is enrolled full-time in either CLAS or the School of Fine Arts and demonstrates an interest in music.

Charlotte is also the digital editor for The Daily Campus. She will be a doctoral student at Brown in the fall to pursue a degree in biomedical engineering with the long-term goal of a career in the biotech industry.

College of Engineering Poster Competition

Antigoni Konstantinou (Materials Science), Max Wondolowski (civil Engineering), and Wei Ruan (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)
Antigoni Konstantinou (Materials Science), Max Wondolowski (civil Engineering), and Wei Ruan (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)

Two Institute of Materials Science students received recognition at the College of Engineering’s 10th Annual Poster Competition. Held on February 23, the competition included 95 posters from UConn engineering students.

Chemical & Biomolecular Ph.D. student, Wei Ruan from the Burke Laboratory of Polymeric Materials received 3rd place prize with the poster entitled “High Throughput Fabrication of Thin Electrocaloric Materials Films Enabled by Additive Manufacturing”.

Antigoni Konstantinou with her 1st place poster
Antigoni Konstantinou with her 1st place poster

Materials Science Ph.D. student, Antigoni Konstantinou, from The Electrical Insulation Research Center, received the highly esteemed 1st place prize with the poster, “2D Coating for Insulation of Variable Frequency Drives.”

Catherine Cheu Completes Ph.D.

Catherine Cheu
Catherine Cheu, Ph.D.

After completing her Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering here at UConn, Catherine joined the polymer Ph.D. program. Under the advisement of Prof. Mu-Ping Nieh, she completed her dissertation: “Small Angle Scattering Modeling for Analyzing Refined Internal Structures of Lipid Nanodiscs (Bicelles).”

Zaili Hou Completes his Polymer Ph.D.

Dr. Zaili Hou
Dr. Zaili Hou completed his Ph.D. in Polymer Science in March 2023

After completing a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Lanzhou University in Gansu province, China, Zaili Hou became a Polymer Ph.D. student in the UConn IMS Polymer Program. With a desire to focus his research on hybrid functional materials, Zaili joined Dr. Luyi Sun’s research group in 2018.

Hybrid functional materials, which consist of two or more distinct components with unique physical and chemical properties, exhibit synergistic properties, making them highly versatile and suitable for applications in various fields, including energy, healthcare, optics, and electronics. Zaili’s research led him to his dissertation topic, “Hybrid Functional Materials with Multiscale Architecture Design.”  He successfully defended his dissertation in March 2023 and earned his doctoral degree as a result.

Reflecting on his time at UConn Zaili noted that he received excellent training and felt a strong sense of community during his time in the UConn IMS Polymer Program, which left him with a very positive overall experience.  He says he appreciated access to the numerous core labs in IMS and the training available from the technical staff. He felt that direct access to the instrumentation in those labs gave him a better understanding of the science and contributed to his successful research.  He also emphasized that the multi-disciplinary foundation of IMS helped create a community with multiple perspectives on the research. In addition to disciplinary diversity, Zaili also enjoyed the cultural diversity found in IMS. This helped him learn about various religions, philosophies, and cultural practices around the world.

With a desire to contribute to a better planet, Zaili began his career with World Centric, a company dedicated to sustainable products. World Centric is creating compostable and sustainable products to help reduce plastic waste that currently pollutes our planet.

“I’m very excited about making contributions to this important cause and making practical applications of polymer science to real world issues,” Zaili said.

Amy Pollock Receives Future Climate Venture Studio Fellowship

Ph.D. Material Science student, Amy Pollock
Ph.D. Material Science student, Amy Pollock

UConn’s Future Climate Venture Studio has created a fellowship program designed to provide tangible experiences for students interested in learning in start-ups, marketing, commercialization, venture development, and research around climate change. Materials Science PhD. student, Amy Pollock, is one of three UConn graduate students to receive the fellowship. Fellows were selected for their excellent writing skills, science, technical, or business background, interest in the entrepreneurial process, interest in addressing climate change, and their ability to work independently and handle confidential material. The program partners each student with 2 start-up companies that need advice and/or assistance within a specific discipline. This enables the companies to have access to scientist working in their field while the students gain insight regarding the many challenges of creating and maintaining a startup company. The program is one more example of UConn’s support of entrepreneurship for both students as well as faculty.

Amy will be working with the following companies:

  • Peat (formally, “Afterlife”) – [eliminating food waste]:
  • Homeostasis – [Carbon removal & utilization]:

Details regarding the Future Climate Venture Studio and the fellowship can be found at: