Carnegie Mellon University


October 09, 2018

Six BME Students Named ACS Scholars

Each year, Carnegie Mellon’s Andrew Carnegie Society (ACS) — a group of more than 3500 alumni donors — funds the ACS Scholars program. ACS Scholars are undergraduate seniors who embody Carnegie Mellon’s high standards of academic excellence, volunteerism, leadership and involvement in student organizations, athletics or the arts. They are selected each year by their deans and department heads to represent their class in service and leadership.

The ACS Scholars program was launched in 1975 and has recognized nearly 1,000 students to date. Each scholar receives a monetary award — made possible by the generosity of ACS members — to support their academic and personal growth.

For the 2018-19 academic year, 40 CMU seniors, including 10 from the College of Engineering, were chosen as ACS Scholars. Six of these are from the Biomedical Engineering Department. These students exemplify the strong commitment to academic excellence, leadership and community service that is celebrated by the ACS Scholars program.

With a major in Chemical Engineering and additional major in BME, Michelle Bai focuses on applications for biomaterials in developing new drug delivery methods. She works in Assistant Professor Rosalyn Abbott’s laboratory. Bai also works in Hunt Library’s Global Communications Center and tutors first- and second-year engineering students. Bai is president of CMU’s student chapter of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) and secretary of Tau Beta Pi, an honors engineering society. “Being an ACS Scholar means the world to me,” says Bai. “I’m getting recognized for doing what I love on campus, and I’m thrilled with the opportunities it presents going forward.” Following graduation, Bai will work as a process design engineer at ExxonMobil Corporation.

Gaurav Balakrishnan is pursuing a major in Materials Science and Engineering with additional major in BME. He has worked with Assistant Professor Tzahi Cohen-Karni, studying the role of nanomaterials in bioelectronic applications. Balakrishnan has also worked with Assistant Professor Xi (Charlie) Ren, focusing on bone tissue engineering. Following graduation, Balakrishnan will pursue a Ph.D. in biomaterials and regenerative medicine. “I believe that regenerative engineering is going to revolutionize the way we approach medicine and healthcare,” he notes. “It is my dream to contribute in some way to these efforts.” Balakrishnan’s many awards include two summer research grants from the Undergraduate Research Office, a Tau Beta Pi scholarship, the Outstanding Sophomore and Outstanding Junior Awards from ASM International, a Pittsburgh Foundation scholarship, and the AIST Pittsburgh chapter scholarship.

Majoring in Materials Science and Engineering with additional major in BME, Jack Forman is passionate about biomimetic smart materials. “Everything the body does is incomprehensibly more elegant than our current manufacturing processes,” Forman points out. “And it is all done without electricity. I want to develop products that sense, respond, and adapt to their surroundings.” Supported by the Morphing Matter lab directed by Lining Yao, an Assistant Professor at CMU’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute, Forman collaborated with students Mohan Yeh and Alan Guo to design a line of transformative clothing that responds to temperature changes by, for example, increasing ventilation. He also worked at Estée Lauder, finding novel methods for predicting packaging compatibility and developing new cosmetic materials. Says Forman, “My dream job is to lead a lab of people with creative minds and a passion for science.”

Kimberly Lamberti, majoring in Mechanical Engineering with additional major in BME, is interested in medical device development and regenerative medicine. She works at ALung Technologies, a Pittsburgh-based startup focused on creating a respiratory assistance device to help patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Lamberti also does research at the Adipose Stem Cell Center at the University of Pittsburgh. “I am applying to graduate schools to get my Ph.D. in biomedical engineering,” she says. “I hope to lead a research and development team of biomedical engineers in the future.” For the past three years, she has been very involved with CMU in Haiti, which supports Haitian grassroots organizations, serving as the group’s secretary and president. She travels to Haiti each spring break to perform volunteer work.

Following graduation, senior Christopher Lee will be pursuing an Integrated Masters in Biomedical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon. “As an undergraduate, my primary interest has been in oncological research,” Lee states. “Specifically I have been fairly interested in immuno-oncology. Someday I hope to pursue a job in the pharmaceutical industry.” Lee works in the lab of Professor James Schneider, supporting research focused on developing rapid, highly selective biosensing and bioseparation platforms. Lee has been named a Tau Beta Pi Stabile Scholar, and he has received the Gary J. Powers Memorial Scholarship. He is a member of the carpentry crew for the Scotch’n’Soda student-run theater company at CMU, treasurer of the Tau Beta Pi Honor Society, and a member of the Chem E Car team.

Majoring in Mechanical Engineering with additional major in BME, Bridget Soderna is targeting a career as a mechanical engineer for a medical device product development company. She will first spend an extra semester at CMU to complete her Integrated Master’s/Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. She encourages young engineers as a coach for FIRST Lego League robotics teams and a frequent volunteer at STEM demonstrations for children. She is also involved with the Scotch’n’Soda student theater organization and is the treasurer for Pi Tau Sigma, the International Society of Mechanical Engineers. “I really appreciate all the opportunities and support I've received from both the Biomedical and Mechanical Engineering Departments at CMU,” says Soderna, “as they've allowed me to do so much with my time here.”

In the photo from left to right: Bin He (Department Head of Biomedical Engineering), Jack Forman (BME/Materials Science & Engineering), Gaurav Balakrishnan (BME/Materials Science & Engineering), Kimberly Lamberti (BME/Mechanical Engineering), Bridget Soderna (BME/Mechanical Engineering), Michelle Bai (BME/Chemical Engineering), Christopher Lee (BME/Chemical Engineering), and Conrad Zapanta (Associate Department Head of Undergraduate Education of Biomedical Engineering).