Carnegie Mellon University
May 07, 2013

MCS Students Earn Education and Research Awards

By Amy Pavlak

MCS Students Earn Education and Research Awards

Mingjiang Zhong, Brendan Sullivan and Wendy LiMingjiang Zhong, Brendan Sullivan and Wendy Li

The Mellon College of Science (MCS) presented its awards for education and research during the college’s annual faculty meeting on Monday, May 6. Winners included Wendy Li, Brendan Sullivan, Mingjiang Zhong, Yu Feng and Saumya Saurabh.

Wendy Li 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. Li, who plans to attend medical school next fall, will graduate with a B.S. in Biological Sciences and a minor in Healthcare Policy and Management. During her four years at Carnegie Mellon, Li maintained a perfect academic record while keeping busy outside of the classroom. She worked on a research project with Biological Sciences Professor Chien Ho that centered on labeling immune cells with novel MRI contrast agents. These cells can be used to detect and monitor organ rejection non-invasively. Her work was included in two peer-reviewed publications. Li also has been deeply involved with the CMU chapter of Global Medical Brigades, a student-led organization that conducts mobile medical clinics in under-resourced communities. She took four trips with the group and served as co-president for two years, organizing trips to Honduras and Nicaragua for more than 20 students. She oversaw fundraising efforts to help with student costs and solicited donations of tens of thousands of dollars worth of medications and medical supplies. According to her advisor Maggie Braun, “Wendy will be an exceptional physician with broad impacts.”

Brendan Sullivan, a graduate student in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, received the Hugh D. Young Graduate Teaching Award, which recognizes effective teaching by graduate students. Sullivan is the first graduate student in the Math Department to be assigned as an instructor for a large lecture. He has taught Concepts of Mathematics, Calculus in 3D and Calculus II. Many of Sullivan’s students noted that they loved going to his lectures and, on the rare occasion that class went over by a few minutes, no one started packing up—a clear testament to Sullivan’s ability to keep students engaged and excited about math. “His lecture was hard, very hard as a matter of fact, but it was mesmerizing,” wrote a Concepts of Math student. It was clear to his students that Sullivan was “extremely excited to teach and equally excited to be talking about mathematics.” His students and colleagues noted that his passion for making math both challenging and fun is contagious. More than one student switched their majors to math after taking one of Sullivan’s classes. Sullivan has channeled that enthusiasm into his Doctor of Arts thesis, a textbook for the Concepts of Math class. 

The Guy C. Berry Graduate Research Award, which recognizes excellence in research by MCS graduate students, was presented to Mingjiang Zhong, a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry. With a background in theoretical and computational chemistry, Zhong joined both the Kowalewski and Matyjaszewski research groups to explore more hands-on approaches for synthesizing nanomaterials, including porous nanocarbon materials containing nitrogen. Using controlled/living radical polymerization, Zhong developed a new pathway for preparing and characterizing these nanomaterials from block copolymers. His technique allows him to control the nanocarbon surface area, pore size and distribution, and functionality. Wielding this level of control over the synthesis of nitrogen-enriched porous nanocarbons is key to using the material in applications ranging from reversible CO2 capture to the devices for energy storage and conversion. Zhong has collaborated with more than 20 research groups at Carnegie Mellon, other universities, national labs and international institutions, and is a co-author on 24 peer-reviewed papers. “Mingjiang is an outstanding, highly productive and creative student…[who has] achieved outstanding experimental and theoretical results,” wrote Professor Tomasz Kowalewski and University Professor Kris Matyjaszewski in a letter nominating Zhong for the award.

Graduate students Yu Feng and Saumya Saurabh were recognized for receiving the Astrid and Bruce McWilliams Graduate Fellowship. To read more about Feng and Saurabh, please visit: