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Clarkson University Students Awarded NSF Research Fellowships

Clarkson University seniors Kaitlin Dunn and Taylor Lenney have been awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship for 2017. Clarkson graduate Emily Gonthier ’16, now at University of California, Berkeley, has also won the award.

Clarkson University seniors Kaitlyn Dunn (left) and Taylor Lenney have been awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for 2017.In addition, three Clarkson graduates received honorable mentions: Leah Granger ’16, now at North Carolina State University; Tyler Tuttle ’16, now at Michigan State University; and Rachel Rosenthal ’16, who will begin graduate school at Clarkson, this fall.

NSF received more than 13,000 applications for the 2017 competition and made 2,000 award offers. NSF fellows are expected to contribute significantly to research, teaching, and innovations in science and engineering fields.

Benefits of the award include a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees (paid to the institution), opportunities for international research and professional development, and freedom to conduct their own research at any accredited U.S. graduate institution they choose.

Kaitlin Dunn ‘17 of Penfield, N.Y., a graduate of Penfield High School, is a senior with a double major in electrical engineering and physics, and a minor in math. Dunn is a member of the Honors Program and has conducted research at Clarkson University under Prof. William Jemison since her freshman year. Her work on using modulated lasers underwater has included advancing the development of an underwater Lidar-based imaging system. In 2015, she conducted research in quantum optics at the Friedrich-Alexander Universität in Erlangen, Germany, through a research internship granted by the DAAD RISE program. Last summer, Dunn conducted research for her honors thesis on using modulated lasers for communication in turbid underwater optical channels at the Naval Air Warfare Center in Patuxent River, Maryland through the NREIP program. She has been accepted to several Ph.D. programs and will pursue research in applied optics in one of these programs, beginning next fall.

Taylor Lenney ’17 of Waddington, N.Y., a graduate of Madrid-Waddington Central High School, is a senior in the Honors Program majoring in chemical engineering and minoring in environmental engineering. She started at Clarkson through the Clarkson School and shortly after transitioned into the Honors Program through the fast-track option. She began research on anaerobic digestion and ammonia removal on Clarkson’s pilot scale digester under Prof. Stefan J. Grimberg. In 2015, she interned with Alcoa at their research center in New Kensington, Pa. There, she focused on an innovative, naturally engineered wastewater treatment system. Last summer, she was awarded an EPA GRO Fellowship, which allowed her the privilege of interning at the EPA’s Gulf Ecology Division in Pensacola, Fl. Taylor studied the effects of hypoxia on estuarine nitrogen cycling along sites in Pensacola Bay. Her research experiences have inspired her to pursue a master of science degree in environmental science & engineering at Clarkson in the fall. She will continue to research a way to overcome the limitations posed by ammonia inhibition during anaerobic digestion of high nitrogen-containing food waste. Her work could assist the solid waste management industry, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase economic incentives for anaerobic digestion adoption.

Emily Gonthier '16 graduated from Clarkson with a bachelor of science degree in environmental engineering and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, in the same field. During her undergraduate career, she was exposed to the importance and challenges of water quality on a global scale while performing research under the guidance of professors Michelle Crimi, James Schulte and Lisa Alvarez-Cohen (UC Berkeley). At UC Berkeley, Gonthier is a member of the Lisa Alvarez-Cohen Research Group as well as the NSF Engineering Research Center for Re-Inventing the Nations Urban Water Infrastructure (ReNUWIt). Her research focuses on the intersection between natural microbial communities and water treatment technologies, with a particular emphasis on nutrient cycling and removal in water systems.

Leah Granger '16, graduated from Clarkson with bachelor of science degrees in mathematics and chemical engineering. A graduate of Clarkson's Honors Program, she is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in chemical engineering at North Carolina State University. At Clarkson, she completed her honors thesis under the mentorship of Prof. Joseph Skufca in the Department of Mathematics and conducted undergraduate research in chemical engineering under the mentorship of Prof. Marco Satyro and Prof. John McLaughlin. At NC State, she is currently working on computational methods for peptide design.

Tyler Tuttle ’16 graduated from Clarkson with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering. He conducted research under Prof. Byron Erath on development of a mechanically powered artificial larynx. Tuttle is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering at Michigan State University under the mentorship of professors Tamara Reid Bush and Sara Roccabianca. His current research focuses on quantification of the mechanical properties of the urinary bladder wall.

Rachel Rosenthal ’16 graduated from Clarkson with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering. She plans to study renewable energy, pursuing a master of science degree in mechanical engineering at Clarkson, this fall. As an undergraduate, she worked with Prof. Kathleen Issen on discovering deformation bands within Castlegate sandstone that had undergone true triaxial testing. Her NSF research proposal details the continuation of this work, with the goal of simulating fluid flow within the deformation bands. She is currently an intern at DenoWatts, a solar power monitoring company.

Clarkson University educates the leaders of the global economy. One in five alumni already leads as an owner, CEO, VP or equivalent senior executive of a company. With its main campus located in Potsdam, New York, and additional graduate program and research facilities in the Capital Region and Beacon, N.Y., Clarkson is a nationally recognized research university with signature areas of academic excellence and research directed toward the world's pressing issues. Through more than 50 rigorous programs of study in engineering, business, arts, education, sciences and the health professions, the entire learning-living community spans boundaries across disciplines, nations and cultures to build powers of observation, challenge the status quo and connect discovery and innovation with enterprise.

Photo caption: Clarkson University seniors Kaitlin Dunn (left) and Taylor Lenney have been awarded the prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship for 2017.

[A photograph for media use is available at]

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Kelly Chezum, VP for External Relations, at 315-268-4483 or]

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