Carnegie Mellon University
July 10, 2023

Three MCS Students Awarded ISURF Grants

By Heidi Opdyke

Jocelyn Duffy
  • Associate Dean for Marketing and Communication, MCS
  • 412-268-9982

Mellon College of Science students Ryan Raikman, Minerva Schafer and Wesley Tseng are in Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Canada this summer to pursue research in their chosen fields.

Their experiences are supported by Carnegie Mellon University's International Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships, which are provided by the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarly Development and funded through the generosity of the Buncher Foundation.

Raikman, a rising senior in physics, is at the University of Geneva in Switzerland working on a project with Professor Anastasios Fragkos to explore galactic dynamics and the formation channels of binary black hole systems. He will be incorporating binary stellar evolution into large scale galactic simulations to understand progenitors of gravitational wave signals.

"I chose this project because I wanted something where I incorporate machine learning into research, and I'm very interested in population synthesis, gravitational waves and stellar evolution," Raikman said.

Schafer, a rising senior in chemistry, is in London to work on a collaboration between Rakesh Kanda, a professor at Brunel University, and Terry Collins, the Teresa Heinz Professor of Green Chemistry. In the Collins, lab Schafer has been working the evaluate the use TAMLs, a catalyst that breaks down various micropollutants of environmental concern, for future applications in wastewater treatment.

"Through this collaboration we essentially want to bring the testing of TAMLs closer to the complex conditions that will be encountered in real-world water treatment, e.g. taking samples from real water sources, measuring the pollutants present, and using TAML to remove them."

While in the United Kingdom, Schafer is focusing on neonicotinoid insecticides, which are major suspects in the collapse of bee populations and have been the subject of increased regulation in the European Union in recent years.

Tseng, a rising junior in chemistry, is at the Health Centre's Cancer Research Institute at McGill University in Montreal where he will study soft tissue sarcomas with Joanna Przybyl.

"I plan on pursuing a medical degree in the future, and this project will give me invaluable experience in biomedical research and grant me more expertise in this field," Tseng said. "I have always had an interest in biochemistry, and I am excited to see the intersection of biochemistry and medicine by conducting this research."

Tseng said the opportunity to work in a different environment will strengthen his research capabilities.

"Furthermore, by engaging in research that is more medically oriented, I hope to gain insight into the medical field as well as learn more about the healthcare system of Canada," he said.

Once they are back in Pittsburgh, Raikman, Schafer and Tseng will present work from their experiences at the 2024 Meeting of the Minds Undergraduate Research Symposium.

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