Baskin Engineering Ph.D. candidates recognized for outstanding academic achievements

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2022 Baskin Engineering Dissertation-Year Fellowship recipient Harika Dechiraju shown conducting research in Professor Marco Rolandi's lab.

2022 Baskin Engineering Dissertation-Year Fellowship recipient Harika Dechiraju shown conducting research in Professor Marco Rolandi's lab.

Melissa Weckerle

Each year, the UC Santa Cruz Baskin School of Engineering awards dissertation fellowships to seven Ph.D. candidates who have shown exceptional academic merit.

The four dissertation fellowships given annually include:

  • Jack Baskin & Peggy Downes Baskin Fellowship 
  • President’s Dissertation-Year Fellowship
  • Chancellor’s Dissertation-Year Fellowship
  • Baskin Engineering Dissertation-Year Fellowship

All seven recipients receive a year-long stipend to support their research. The Jack Baskin & Peggy Downes Baskin Fellowship recipient receives $27,000, and the other six fellowship recipients receive $24,000 each.

“These awardees are not only exceedingly bright individuals, they are agents of change. They work tirelessly to develop innovative solutions for today’s most pressing challenges,” said Alexander Wolf, dean of the Baskin School of Engineering. “The impactful work they’re doing now will inspire both current and future engineers.”

The 2022 recipient of the prestigious Jack Baskin & Peggy Downes Baskin Fellowship is Erica Kleinman. Kleinman is a computational Ph.D. candidate studying games and player experience in Professor Magy Seif El-Nasr’s Game User Interaction and Intelligence Lab. Kleinman’s research is focused around the role of data-driven tools in meeting players’ needs, with a focus on learning and mastering complex gameplay. Before joining the Baskin School of Engineering, she received a master’s degree in computer science from Northeastern University. 

The 2022 President's Dissertation-Year Fellowship awardee is Ella Dagan Peled. Peled is a computational media Ph.D. candidate advised by Professor Katherine Isbister whose research focuses on “exploring the potential of ubiquitous and embodied technology interventions to enhance co-located social interactions, particularly wearable technologies.” She works in Professor Isbister’s Social Emotional Technology Lab (SET Lab) and was instrumental in developing the social wearables technology used during the Social Wearables Educational Live Action Role Play (SWEL) Camp, a 5-day program to drive middle school girls’ interest and confidence in pursuing technical subjects.

The 2022 Chancellor’s Dissertation-Year Fellowship recipient is Anuj Kumar. Kumar is an applied mathematics Ph.D. candidate advised by Professor Pascale Garaud. Kumar’s research focuses on fluid dynamics, specifically on “obtaining bounds on global mean quantities, such as drag force, rate of energy dissipation, mixing efficiency and heat and mass transport in turbulent flows.” Prior to joining the Baskin School of Engineering, he received his master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the Indian Institute of Science. In 2018, Kumar was selected as a Dean’s Fellow, an award given to incoming students for their extraordinary potential and academic merit. 

The four recipients of the 2022 Baskin Engineering Dissertation-Year Fellowship include:

Nicholas Lorig-Roach. Lorig-Roach is a biomolecular engineering Ph.D. candidate advised by Associate Professor Rebecca DuBois. He received his undergraduate degree in chemistry and neuroscience with a concentration in bioinformatics from UC Santa Cruz. His research centers on developing antibiotics, antivirals, and cancer therapeutics. He works in the DuBois Lab, studying the molecular mechanism of viral infections in order to develop new vaccines and antiviral therapeutics.

Haofan Cai. Cai is a computer science and engineering Ph.D. candidate advised by Associate Professor Chen Qian. His research focuses on wireless networks and “identifying ubiquitous human-item interactions in daily life using the radio-frequency identification (RFD) technique.” Cai received his bachelor’s degree in engineering communications from the Southern University of Science and Technology in China. 

Harika Dechiraju. Dechiraju is an electrical and computer engineering Ph.D. candidate advised by Professor Marco Rolandi. She’s interested in developing bioelectronic devices for wound healing applications and tissue regeneration. Dechiraju is currently working on a collaborative project with Baskin Engineering Professors Marco Rolandi, Marcella Gomez, and Mircea Teodorescu and researchers from Tufts University and UC Davis that aims to develop a bioelectronic bandage capable of cutting healing times in half for hard-to-heal wounds. 

Mustafa Mutlu. Mutlu is an electrical and computer engineering Ph.D. candidate advised by Assistant Professor Ali Yanik. Mutlu works in Professor Yanik's Nanoengineering Group as a graduate student researcher. He studies the “development of high-throughput, low-cost, open-source and scalable robotic platforms for viral disease diagnostics using electrochemical impedance spectroscopy.” He received his master’s degree in electrical engineering from UC Santa Cruz in 2019.

For more information, please visit grad.soe.ucsc.edu/dyfellowship