Mellon College of Science Students Earn Education and Research Awards-Mellon College of Science - Carnegie Mellon University

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mellon College of Science Students Earn Education and Research Awards

Heather Chalfin received the Dr. J. Paul Fugassi and Linda E. Monteverde Award, which is presented to a graduating female senior with the greatest academic achievement and professional promise. Chalfin, a senior biological sciences major with a minor in mathematical sciences, has been successful as an educator, researcher, facilitator, team player and community servant. During her years at Carnegie Mellon, Chalfin has excelled in her coursework, often being the top student in many of her classes. She has been a peer tutor and a mentor to underprivileged youth as an Urban League of Pittsburgh Tutor, a member of the Carnegie Mellon University Emergency Medical Service, and an undergraduate researcher. She will be earning MCS College Research Honors for her work in the lab of Professor Adam Linstedt, where she focused her efforts on understanding the functional roles of the Golgi apparatus. According Assistant Dean Amy Burkert, Chalfin, who will begin medical school at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine this fall, is a young woman of exceptional talent and drive who is committed to making a difference in the world through science.

The Guy C. Berry Graduate Research Award, which recognizes excellence in research by MCS graduate students, was presented to Tristan Bereau. A Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Physics, Bereau is developing a coarse-grained computer model to simulate the behavior of proteins at longer time and length scales, which is key to investigating how proteins and lipids interact in cell membranes. Together with faculty and postdoctoral fellows in the Department of Physics at Carnegie Mellon and the University of California at Irvine, Bereau plans to use the model to investigate how cell membranes are affected by the protein amyloid-ß, small aggregates of which are suspected to substantially contribute to the devastating neurodegenerative pathologies leading to Alzheimer’s disease. According to Bereau’s research advisor Markus Deserno, Bereau’s preliminary results on the coarse-grained protein model played a major role in the success of a recent grant proposal. “Tristan embodies what we all hope for in a graduate student. He is curious, inquisitive, diligent, smart, and he really loves what he is doing,” said Deserno.

Benjamin Beppler, a graduate student in physics, received the Hugh D. Young Graduate Teaching Award, which recognizes effective teaching by graduate students. Beppler has taught every semester he has been at Carnegie Mellon. He has been a teaching assistant in a variety of courses, mentors undergraduates and high school students, taught at the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for the Sciences, serves as an “expert teaching assistant” in the Physics Department’s TA training sessions, and contributed to the curriculum for a new course in Chemical Engineering. He also volunteered to staff the Course Center two hours every weeknight. According to Kunal Ghosh, Beppler would start the scheduled hours ahead of time, stay past closing time, help all of the students who swarmed around him, and “poured out his energy and knowledge to help our students.” A former student commented about Beppler, “I thought it would take a miracle in order for me to understand the concepts of Physics II, but it did not take a miracle; it just took a great teacher.”

Graduate students Chip Hogg and Renaud Nicolaÿ were also recognized for receiving the Astrid and Bruce McWilliams Graduate Fellowship.


Amu Pavlak