Graduate Research Fellows Program

Program

The IRiS Graduate Research Fellows Program aims to accelerate breakthroughs in sensing research via intensive, interdisciplinary training that prepares the next generation of sensing researchers to think, act, and innovate holistically. We aim to harness intellectual diversity in ways that foster transformative creative collaboration beyond typical STEM disciplines. The program, housed in the Institute for Research in Sensing (IRiS), adventurously integrates STEM and non-STEM disciplines to address future-oriented training needs; fully integrates the creative process into STEM training; provides professional training and networking experiences; and deepens our understanding of how sensors – natural and engineered – arise and impact society. Each trainee receives a stipend supplement for 1 year during their time as an IRiS Graduate Research Fellow.

Objectives

Fellows in the program gains core competencies in teamwork, communication, and ethics through engagement with several innovative training elements integrated into the sensing lifecycle.

  1. Train Socially and Ethically Engaged Scientists
  2. Inspire Authentic Engagement with the Creative Process
  3. Create Avant Garde Research Interactions through Team Science

Curriculum

Two, 3-credit hour studio courses team-taught by interdisciplinary researchers to address the areas of Ideation/Creation (Fall 2022, NSCI 7001) and the Implementation/Utilization (Spring 2023, NSCI 7002).

These studio courses provide experiential learning and research opportunities within the full sensing lifecycle. In addition to lectures and trainings, IRiS Graduate Research Fellows are placed into interdisciplinary teams of four students (quartets) to tackle a “Grand Challenge” posed by an external partner. External partners include private sector companies (e.g., P&G, Kroger) as well as public entities (e.g., NIOSH, the EPA). Research fellow quartets work over the course of the year to develop innovative solutions to the “Grand Challenge." The nature of these solutions depend on the disciplinary competencies of each quartet, and range from developing ethical best practices for use of novel technologies to bio-inspired design of new sensing devices. At the end of the year, these solutions are presented to the external partners on “Grand Challenge Pitch Day."

Eligibility

The IRiS Graduate Research Fellowship Program is open to PhD students from any discipline in all UC colleges.

Application Process

Eligible students must apply in the Spring (April) to participate in the following academic year program starting in Fall (August).

The application packet must include:

  • Statement of research, educational goals, and career goals. Please include a discussion of your experiences of working on a team. (1000 words)
  • Transcripts from all universities and colleges attended
  • Curriculum Vitae (5 pg max)
  • Two (2) Letters of Recommendation, emailed separately, one must be from applicant’s graduate advisor
  • A signed Student-Faculty Acknowledgment Form (downloaded from website) indicating agreement to the programmatic commitments involved for both.

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until all positions are filled.

Please send Statement, Transcripts, CV and Acknowledgment Form as a single PDF to sensingresearch@uc.edu

Both Letters of Recommendation must be sent separately to sensingresearch@uc.edu.

If you have any questions about the application or program, please email sensingresearch@uc.edu.

IRiS 2022 Graduate Research Fellows

A color photo of Oluwasegun "Isaac" Akinboye wearing a white shirt in front of a white background.

My name is Oluwasegun “Isaac” Akinboye, a 3rd year PhD Candidate studying Materials Science and Engineering. Prior to pursuing my PhD here at UC, I had my bachelor’s degree in Metallurgical and Materials Science in Nigeria (University of Lagos) before coming to the United States for my master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering (Wright State University). I am deeply passionate about the world of materials science; I could argue all day that nothing is made without materials, haha. My PhD research primarily focuses on developing flexible thermoelectric materials that can be used for manufacturing wristwatches, health and sensing monitors that can be worn on the body. The goal is to eradicate the use of batteries in these devices by getting their source of energy from the temperature difference between the body and the ambient temperature. Excited to always be part of meaningful and impactful work, making the world we live in a better place, one step at a time. During my PhD, I have served in several leadership capacities such as Vice President of the University of Cincinnati Nigerian Students’ Association, Parliamentarian for the National Society of Black Engineers among many others. Upon graduating from UC, I aim to pursue a career path in either a semiconducting/manufacturing industry, with hopes of establishing my own failure analysis research company where the focus will be to determine why materials fail, how we can stop them from failing and ultimately develop durable materials that would last even longer than those currently in service. 

A color photo of Valeria Andrade smiling and wearing a white suit and a purple shirt.
I am Val Andrade (she/her), a fourth-year experimental psychology Ph.D. student affiliated with the Cognition, Action, and Perception program at UC. I received a Bachalor’s degree in Physical Therapy from Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais – UFMG (Brazil) in 2017, and a Master’s degree in Rehabilitation Sciences also from UFMG in 2019. I study motor control and motor learning from the perspective of ecological psychology. My research focuses on (a) understanding control processes that explain performance deficits in individuals with motor disabilities, and (b) identifying interventions that might relate to those processes and promote performance recovery.
A cropped color photo of Jay Arns smiling outside the Cincinnati Museum Center.

Jay S. Arns is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of English and Comparative Literature’s track in rhetoric and composition. After graduating from Xavier University’s Hon. A.B. program in classics and philosophy, he completed an M.A. in classical philology at the University of Florida. For the next nine years, he taught Latin, Greek, and English at the high-school level. He went on to spend three years as a member of the Department of Classics and Modern Languages at Xavier University, where he taught courses in Latin, Greek, Roman history, classical mythology, and classical literature in translation. During this time, he also completed Xavier’s M.A. program in English.

At UC, he has taught introductory composition, intermediate composition, linguistics, technical and scientific writing, and the interdisciplinary studies capstone course. In Fall 2020, he served as the Pedagogy and Outreach Coordinator for the university’s composition program. In Spring 2022, he was a teaching assistant in Dr. Richard Becker’s MEDS 2040 A Life in Medicine.

His current research interests include the rhetoric of science, neurorhetoric, disability studies, conspiracy theories, and film studies.

A close up color photo of Daegyun Choi in front of a white background.

Mr. Daegyun Choi is a PhD candidate in the intelligent autonomous systems research laboratory (IASRL) of Department of Aerospace Engineering & Engineering Mechanics at University of Cincinnati. His research topics are applications of explainable artificial intelligence, such as collision-free navigation of UAVs, collaborative control of multi-robot system, and relative motion control of spacecraft.

A smiling color photo of Xin Gu wearing a winter coat outside in front of a body of water.

Xin is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Geography and GIS at the University of Cincinnati. He holds a dual master’s degree in Criminal Justice and Geospatial Information Science and a bachelor's degree in electronic business. He is currently interested in examining how mobility and the built environment affect crime. In his leisure time, he likes doing exercises and embracing nature. He believes the IRiS Graduate Fellows Program can serve as an excellent platform to breeze more interdisciplinary research.

A smiling color photo of Corinne Jorgenson wearing a red floral dress in front of a leafy background.

Corinne Jorgenson is a graduate assistant and PhD student at the University of Cincinnati’s Center for Cognition, Action, and Perception. Her research interests include human-machine interactions and how perceptions of ethics and trust influence the use and adoption of artificial agents, robotics, artificial intelligence, and other machine systems; and models of trust, ethical behavior, and explanation that increase trust in safety-critical AI and robotics systems (e.g., medical robotics, defense/intelligence decision-making).

Corinne is also the COO of Redpoint AI, an engineering company specializing in edge AI, spiking neural networks, AI for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, and explainable AI. She is also a consulting writer with Dragonfly Editorial, specializing in writing research proposals.

Outside of work, she enjoys hiking, rock climbing, and spending time with her husband, daughter, and two dogs.

A smiling color photo of Deniz Korman wearing glasses in front of a leafy background.

Deniz Korman is a second year PhD student in the department of biological sciences at the University of Cincinnati. His research focuses on studying visual depth perception in hunting spiders. He is interested in exploring the ways in which these fascinating creatures have evolved to solve various visual challenges and thinking about how their natural solutions can be applied to new technologies. When he's not thinking about spider eyes or how one would put 3D glasses on them, you can find him biking around Cincinnati, exploring new media, or cooking a mean meal. 

A smiling color photo of Michael Meece wearing a flannel shirt in front of a brick background.

I am Michael Meece, a third year PhD student in the Buschbeck Lab in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Cincinnati. My research interests generally lie in exploring the ways in which exposure to different wavelengths affects tissue physiology. More specifically, I am interested in studying these phenomena as they impact the recovery of damaged retinal tissue in invertebrates.

A color photo of Tarcisio Moreira smiling, wearing a red vest and a blue shirt and standing in front of a poster that says "the muscular system."

Tarcisio Moreira is a second year PhD student in the Center of Cognition, Action and Perception (CAP) of Experimental Psychology Program. He is a sports and orthopedics physical therapist and he is most interested in developing research about ecological variables that might be related to skilled sports motor behavior/control. Skill acquisition, motor learning and perception/action cycle would be good key words about Tarcisio's research focus.

A smiling color photo of Alex Olivan wearing a grey shirt in front of a painted wall.

The focus of my graduate-level work revolves around improving the temporal stability of electrochemical, aptamer-based sensors by exploring new sensor materials and attachment chemistries. In pursuing this goal, I have built a functional knowledge of advanced carbon materials, surface science, and interfacial electrochemistry. Along the way I've also gained proficiency in several spectroscopic techniques using both photons and electrons as probes. Before finishing my chemistry undergraduate degree at UC, I obtained a B.Sc. in geology from NKU with a focus on paleontology and expeditions in arid environments. There is nothing like the feeling of uncovering an animal, and realizing you are the first one to see it in a hundred million years! I am passionate about expanding my own creativity, open-mindedness, and ability to think outside-the-box. In my personal life, I love spending time outdoors - whether that is on my boat fishing, taking hikes, or just getting out of the city for some fresh air.

A smiling color photo of Shammah Omololu sitting on a bench wearing a camo shirt and jeans.

Shammah Omololu is a third-year PhD candidate from the University of Cincinnati, College of Nursing. She started her nursing program at the School of Nursing, Sacred Heart Hospital, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Nigeria. She then obtained her Bachelor of Science and Master’s degrees in Nursing from the University of Cape Coast, Ghana.

The primary focus of her research interest is on diabetes, which includes educating nurses on factors that influence the quality of care, patient safety, and satisfaction concerning the management of diabetes. Her current research focuses on educating nurses on the different glycemic control measures and the discordance between hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) and other glycemic control modalities.

Shammah presently works as a research coordinator on Dr. Cohen’s R01 study, which focuses on optimizing diabetes management and diagnosis by personalizing hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) targets.

Currently, she serves as the vice president of the UC Graduate Student Government for the College of Nursing and a planning committee member for the College of Nursing Doctoral Student Project Showcase. She is excited to be part of the IRiS family and looking forward to learning from everyone at the institute.

A smiling color photo of Sirjana Pun wearing a black suit in front of a leafy background.

Sirjana Pun is a PhD student in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Cincinnati . She joined University of Cincinnati in Spring 2021 as a Ph.D. student and started working in Barrile’s Personalized Bioengineering Lab. Currently, she is working on a human cerebrovascular disease on-chip combining 3D/bioprinting and tissue engineering with the ultimate aim of developing a personalized disease model. She is interested to integrate electrochemical sensors in her bioprinted brain on-chip model to generate a sensor-powered platform potentially able to provide new mechanistic insights into the role of soluble mediators (such as neurotransmitters and cytokines) that regulate brain homeostasis and cancer progression. Her research interests include Microphysiological systems, Microfluidic simulation, 3D/Bioprinting, and Personalized Medicine. Outside her research, she loves exploring new foods and adventure travel.

A smiling photo of Steven Quarin wearing a blue shirt outside in front of a stone background.

I’m Steven Quarin and I am a third-year graduate student in Dr. Pietro Strobbia’s lab in the chemistry department. I graduated from The Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and from the University of Michigan with a master’s degree in Chemistry. My project involves creating surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) sensors for the detection of viral RNA for point-of-care testing and diagnosis. I am looking forward to collaborating with the other members of the IRiS Fellowship Program on how I can improve these, and other, sensors using insight from the different perspectives of the other members.

A smiling close up color photo of Jordan Siebold wearing a black shirt and dangling earrings.

My name is Jordan Seibold, I am a PhD Candidate in Dr. Ashley Ross’s lab in the Chemistry Department at the University of Cincinnati. My graduate research focuses on the development of an EAB sensor for Neuropeptide Y. This will be deployed to understand its role during certain biological processes in live tissue. In addition, I am using FSCV to understand and monitor how T Cells signal during an immune response in the gut. Before coming to UC, I earned my undergraduate degree in Chemistry at Xavier University in 2018. Outside of my degree, I am an avid traveler, I have been fortunate enough to visit over 20 countries, and I look forward to adding more this fall. I am also a passionate tennis player, hiker, and reader.

A smiling color photo of Sk. Abu Talha wearing a black jacket and a blue shirt in front of a city skyline.

Sk. Abu Talha is a Ph.D. student in the department of civil engineering at the University of Cincinnati. He has extensive research experience in the area of transportation infrastructure and asset management. Over the past three years, he has conducted four research projects funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT). His current study involves developing an autonomous system incorporating state-of-the-art sensors which can be used to evaluate the existing pavement conditions. His future goal is to take the advantage of the sensors and AI and apply them toward the betterment of human lives. Apart from research, Talha is a sports enthusiast. He loves to play tennis in his free time.

A smiling color photo of Der Vang wearing a pink shirt in front of a white background.

Der Vang is a fourth-year chemistry graduate student in Dr. Pietro Strobbia's lab at the University of Cincinnati. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry (ACS-certified) and minored in Business Administration at Winona State University. Currently, Der's research focuses on understanding, developing, and optimizing surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) substrates for cancerous exosome analysis. While pursuing her Ph.D., Der serves as the Cultural Affairs leader for the UC Graduate Consortium for Cultural Diversity in Chemistry (CCDC). She looks forward to learning and working with the IRiS fellows to deeper understand sensors,  how sensors impact society, creatively develop technologies and methods to help the future, and understand science. In her free time, Der enjoys learning, traveling, sewing, creating 3-D art, and skincare.

Past IRiS Graduate Research Fellows

2021 IRiS Graduate Research Fellows

Sanduni Abeykoon

I’m Sanduni Abeykoon, a second-year graduate student of the Ryan White lab at the University of Cincinnati. I completed my undergraduate degree in Chemistry also at the University of Cincinnati. My current research is based on electrochemical aptamer-based (E-AB) sensors. Aptamers are single-stranded DNA or RNA oligonucleotides that can selectively detect specific biomolecules like proteins and small molecules. More specifically, I focus on the interrogation of E-AB sensors to study the binding kinetics of small molecules to surface-bound aptamers using the recently introduced technique Intermittent Pulse Amperometry.

Nicole Carver

Nicole is a graduate student in the Center for Cognition, Action, and Perception working to earn her PhD in Psychology. She hopes to develop interventions based in perceptual and movement science that support individuals with balance impairments. Nicole is a 2020 NSF Graduate Research Fellow. 

Anirudh Chhabra

I'm a Ph.D. student in the Intelligent Autonomous Systems Research Laboratory (IASRL) of the Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of Cincinnati. My primary research is focused on the development of a spacecraft simulator with other active research areas including Collision Avoidance methods, Indoor Positioning Systems, Seamless dynamic wireless sensor networks (DWSNs), and Spacecraft Control.

Dalton Cooper

Dalton is a 3rd year PhD student in the center for Cognition, Action, and Perception’s Experimental Psychology program. He is interested in how action capability influences sensitivity to perceptual information that may guide behavior.

Sierra Corbin

Sierra Corbin (she/her) is a fifth-year student in the Experimental Psychology PhD program at the University of Cincinnati. She holds a B.S. and M.A. in Psychology from the University of Georgia (2015) and the University of Dayton (2017), respectively. Her research foci include exploring 1) interpersonal motor and social coordination, joint action, intention recognition, and human-human interactions that can be adapted to human-robot contexts; and 2) linear and non-linear statistical models and methodology to improve analysis and interpretation of various empirical datasets. In addition, she is involved in her campus community. She serves in ongoing roles in her lab and department, including as the 2021-22 President of the Psychology Graduate Student Association, and has held several executive board positions within the UC Black Graduate and Professional Student Association. Beyond lab duties, TA-ing, and teaching classes, she enjoys curating song playlists, traveling, writing poetry, attending art venues and concerts, and impromptu napping. Following completion of her PhD, Sierra anticipates transitioning into a full-time academic position, where she will continue research and science communication, mentorship, and teaching.

Sean Dobson

Ph.D. Student
Materials Science and Engineering Department

Additive and Materials Engineer
Vertex Manufacturing, LLC

Sean is a current Ph.D. student in materials science and engineering at the University of Cincinnati (UC). His background was previously in mechanical engineering at the University of Louisville from which he obtained a bachelors and masters of science. The focus of Sean’s research has been in the industry of additive manufacturing, often referred to as 3D-printing, for the previous five years. He will continue contributing and learning in this area of research during his degree and plans to pursue the subject matter as a career. His interest in applying for this research fellowship and ultimate goal going through this program is to develop a fundamental knowledge of sensing technology and research. The additive manufacturing industry has recently begun to transition away from more traditional means of measuring part quality. Sensing technologies are poised to revolutionize the way we manufacture by introducing in situ monitoring and machine learning to the process. Both of which rely heavily on accurate sensing technologies. It is Sean’s firm belief that to make meaningful contribution to his area of expertise he will need to develop a prowess for incorporating sensing into his mechanical engineering and materials science work.

Mark Friedel

Mark is a third year PhD student studying Biomedical Engineering at UC where he also completed a BS of in Biomedical Engineering and Neurobiology. He researches medical devices and focuses on minimally-invasive, continuous biosensing of interstitial fluid. Mark is an avid twilight fan but didn’t start reading the series until the beginning of lockdown. In his spare time he writes fan fiction, slacklines, and tries to get sponsored by PBR on Twitter. 

Mark Jackson

Mark L. Jackson is a Ph.D. student in Electrical Engineering, with a background in systems engineering, industrial robotics and engineering education.  He has an extensive work history that spans the automobile, aerospace and medical industries, and has specializations in robotic process automation, coatings, robotic simulation, and leadership.  His most recent professional role was in engineering education where he served as a career and technical instructor for 11th and 12th grade students.   His current focus is on sensors and additive manufacturing and how they can be used to create sensory composites for large scale, structural applications.

Shubham Rathore

Second year PhD student in the Biomedical Engineering Program studying Chronic Wound Healing through tissue engineering & biomaterial strategies. I am interested in how medical devices, small molecule interactions, and other bioengineering strategies can be used in combination to advance healthcare for patients through elucidation of complex disease pathophysiologies and novel treatment advances.

Dmitry Manasreh

Dmitry Manasreh is a graduate researcher in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. His current research involves developing state-of-the-art sensor and AI systems to improve human lives with focus on the area of transportation infrastructure. Dmitry has been the lead researcher in 3 ODOT and FHWA funded projects. He believes that interdisciplinary learning and research is a key component to creative solutions to our world’s problems. In his free time, Dmitry enjoys freestyle cooking and traveling with his wife.

Audrey Pumford

I am Audrey Pumford, a second-year Chemistry graduate student in Dr. Ryan White’s lab. I graduated from Urbana University with a focus in Chemistry and Biology. Currently, I focus on electrochemical imaging of biosensor surfaces using a variety of scanning probe microscopy techniques. This fellowship is an excellent opportunity to think and work outside the box compared to what is typical of sensor research. I am most looking forward to having normalized conversation with and learning from my intelligent peers who focus on different things than I do and have different perspectives than I do. 

Shubham Rathore

I am Shubham Rathore, a third year PhD student in Professor Elke Buschbeck’s lab at the biology department of University of Cincinnati. My current research program allows me to understand eye development in arthropods with a backdrop of evolution, using several approaches including but not limited to in-silico modelling, molecular biology, and optics. More generally, I am interested in using interdisciplinary approaches to understand how sensory systems adapt to specific ecological environments and investigate if these adaptations are controlled by specific molecular pathways. Outside the lab, I enjoy hiking, photography, and sketching.

Esther Scheibler

Esther is a Yates Fellow and a second-year doctoral student in the School of Criminal Justice at the University of Cincinnati. She is a research assistant at the University's IMPACT Lab, which uses research to create evidence-based policy recommendations within the criminal justice sector. Her research interests include patterns of crime & victimization within Jewish communities, Jewish prison chaplaincy, and prisoner reentry.

Anthony Jerome Stone Jr.

Anthony Jerome Stone Jr. is a PhD Student in the Department of Sociology at the University of Cincinnati. Anthony holds a Master of Arts in sociology from The University of Memphis and attended Michigan State University for his undergraduate studies. Anthony is a Yates Fellow, an Assistant Editor for Social Problems, the 2021-2022 UC Sociology Lyceum President, and is on the executive board for UC’s Black Graduate and Professional Student Association. Anthony’s research is centered in Black studies, Indigenous American Studies, race & racism, racial representations in the media, social psychology, and racial rhetoric. Anthony is co-editor of Cognella’s Sociology and Hip Hop: An Anthology and previous work has appeared in the Journal of Communication & Religion and Studies in Symbolic Interaction. He is excited to be an inaugural member of the IRiS Graduate Fellows Program! 

Dominique Tanner

Dominique Tanner is a PhD candidate studying Biomedical Engineering at UC. Before pursuing her PhD, she earned her Master of Science in Bioengineering from North Carolina A&T State University, and her Bachelor of Science in biology from Grambling State University. Currently, Dominique's research focuses on using predictable features from electronic seizure diaries, statistical and computational modeling, to build personalized seizure prediction models for people who suffer from epilepsy. Through her research, knowledge, and skills, Dominique aims to enhance seizure prediction and improve health outcomes for people with epilepsy. While pursuing her PhD, Dominique is also active in various leadership positions. She serves as the President for the UC Graduate Student Government (GSG), and as the Vice President for the UC Black Graduate and Professional Student Association (BGPSA). Additionally, she serves as an instructor to undergraduate students within the department of Biomedical Engineering. Upon graduating from UC, Dominique aims to pursue a postdoc position, with hopes of one day establishing a research lab of her own, in which she can continue her research and educate others about epilepsy. 

Yuchan (Lotus) Yuan

Lotus is a PhD Candidate in Electrical Engineering at UC. She has been researched on electrochemical biosensors for point-of-care diagnostic device and continuous hormone monitor. She is also enthusiastic about commercializing the cutting edge technology from the laboratory. Beyond research, she is an active advocate for women in STEM area. 

IRiS Partner Organizations

Kroger
P&G
Niosh