Carnegie Mellon University
July 14, 2014

Press Release: Carnegie Mellon Alumnus, Three Undergraduates Receive Funding for STEM Research in Germany

Fellowships and Scholarships Office Supports Students Throughout Competitive Application Process

Contacts: Abby Simmons / 412-268-4290 /
                Adam Harring / 412-268-3580 /

PITTSBURGH—A recent Carnegie Mellon University graduate and three undergraduate students have landed competitive international research experiences in science, technology, mathematics and engineering (STEM) fields through the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst, or DAAD for short).

Zachary Urbach, a 2014 Mellon College of Science alumnus, has received a one-year study scholarship. Students Miriam Hegglin, Yoon Hee Ha and Michael Matty have received funding to participate in the DAAD Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) program.

CMU’s Fellowships and Scholarships Office (FSO) provides support to students who are interested in pursuing competitive national and international funding opportunities offered by organizations such as DAAD.

“The RISE internships and study scholarships allow our students to build on past undergraduate research at Carnegie Mellon,” said Joanna Dickert, a Fulbright and international award program adviser in the FSO. “For some students, this is their first time abroad, while others build on past international experiences. In either case, opportunities like DAAD empower these talented students to gain international research experience, build important professional and personal relationships, and cultivate a cosmopolitan spirit.”

Study Scholarship

Urbach, of Lakewood, Ohio, received a one-year study scholarship to continue research he began as a chemistry major at CMU in the lab of Michael Bockstaller, an associate professor of materials science and engineering, at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPIP) in Mainz, Germany. Urbach will work with the team of Georg Fytas, who frequently collaborates with Bockstaller and holds joint appointments at MPIP and the University of Crete.

As a member of Bockstaller’s lab, Urbach received support from CMU’s Undergraduate Research Office in the form of Small Undergraduate Research Grants and Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships.

“The work I completed in Professor Bockstaller’s group exposed me to engineers and chemists from varied backgrounds and countries. Studying at the Max Planck will expand my exposure to the interdisciplinary knowledge and research in polymer science that I began to develop in Pittsburgh,” Urbach said.

Urbach will have access to one of the only places in the world equipped to use Brillouin light scattering spectroscopy to study the elastic properties of particle brush materials. This new class of polymer nanocomposites has unique applications for coatings, light-emitting devices, bendable electronics and photonic gap materials.

Following his year in Germany, Urbach will pursue a doctorate in chemistry at Northwestern University.
Internship Program

The RISE program is open to undergraduate students from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences and engineering. DAAD places students in top universities and research institutions across Germany, where they are paired with doctoral students whom they assist and who serve as their mentors. Read more about the students.

  • Miriam Hegglin of Mount Kisco, N.Y., is a rising senior with a double major in civil and environmental engineering, and engineering and public policy. Her internship is at Philipps Universität Marburg. “As I am working with the Geography Department, I hope to gain a different perspective on sustainability,” Hegglin said. “As an engineer at CMU, most of my work tends to focus on scientific and technical aspects of sustainability, but a major part of my project this summer will also focus on the social dimensions of sustainability.”
  • Yoon Hee Ha of Tigard, Ore., is a rising junior majoring in mechanical engineering. Her internship is at Hochschule Hannover. “I found the DAAD RISE program in line with my future direction because I hope to work for BMW in the future to follow my passion for cars,” Ha said. “The main goal is to complete the tasks at hand of building a formulaic model for pedelecs (electronic bikes). The experiences offered through DAAD could satisfy my needs and interests in German language and culture.”
  • Michael Matty of Gibsonia, Pa., is a rising senior majoring in physics. His internship is at Eberhard-Karls Universität Tübingen. “I applied for this program because I had previous knowledge of the German language, and I was interested in having a research experience abroad,” Matty said. “I’m hoping to gain further experience working on numerical/computational problems in condensed matter physics. The program offered several projects that interested me and were relevant to the type of work I seek to pursue in graduate school.”