Three Grad Students Win Dissertation Fellowships

Medea Neek, Seyed “Amir” Saeidi and Rachel SmithJuly 16, 2018 - Three engineering doctoral students -- Medea Neek, Seyed “Amir” Saeidi and Rachel Smith -- were awarded a Graduate Dean’s Dissertation Fellowship for 2018-19.  The UC Irvine Graduate Division offers this award for students in their final year of graduate education, allowing them to forgo non-research related employment and concentrate on completing their dissertation. The fellowship consists of three quarterly awards of $6,000 (fall, winter, spring) or $5,000 for summer, plus in-state tuition and fees.

Neek, a chemical engineering student, is developing a new platform to improve cancer vaccine (immunotherapy) efficacy using nanotechnology and biomimetic strategies. “We mimic virus properties with nanoparticles in order to improve the interactions of vaccine components with the human body's immune system.”

Saeidi, a materials and manufacturing technology student, is looking at the phase transformations of a high-temperature ceramic material used to coat blades in gas turbines. “We hope to explain the mechanisms of this phase transformation using atomistic simulations. This understanding will help us design better materials and enhance their properties.”

Biomedical engineering student Smith conducts computational analysis of brain signals in patients with epilepsy.  She specifically studies infantile spasms, a potentially devastating form of epilepsy that strikes within the first year of life. Smith is developing quantitative tools to assess how the infants’ brains are functioning differently from the brains of healthy babies, as well as building models to predict which patients are going to respond to treatment.

“We hope that this will expedite the treatment process and improve patients' long-term outcomes,” said Smith.

– Lori Brandt




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