Carnegie Mellon University
January 23, 2015

Carnegie Mellon Engineering Student Catherine Groschner Wins Churchill Scholarship

Senior Will Study Energy Technologies at the University of Cambridge in England

By Abby Simmons / 412-268-4290  / and Daniel Tkacik / 412-268-1187

Kate GroschnerCarnegie Mellon University senior Catherine "Kate" Groschner, a materials science and engineering major, has been selected as one of 14 students nationwide to receive a Churchill Scholarship, which funds a year of postgraduate study at the University of Cambridge in England.

Groschner is the 11th CMU student to receive the Churchill Scholarship, one of the most prestigious awards for studying abroad in the United Kingdom.

"Studying at Cambridge will introduce me to a diverse, international community of engineers and scientists, connections that will likely continue professionally for decades to come," Groschner said. "Communication within academic circles, as well as in public forums, is imperative to bring about the tangible impacts of research beyond the lab."

The Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States offers the scholarships to outstanding American students to pursue graduate studies in engineering, mathematics or the sciences at Cambridge University's Churchill College. The scholarship pays for a year of tuition, fees and living expenses.

Groschner will pursue a Master of Philosophy in Energy Technologies and conduct photovoltaics research at Cambridge University Professor Judith Driscoll's lab. This research supports the development of solar technology, a subject closely related to the materials she plans to study at the doctoral level.

"My career goals are to research advanced technologies that transition humans away from fossil fuel use and to connect people with information regarding new technologies, their benefits and opportunities for change," Groschner said.

Staff members at CMU's Fellowships and Scholarships Office (FSO) guided Groschner through the competitive application and interviewing process.

"Kate's commitment to education is one that is inextricably linked to her own insatiable curiosity in the sciences and other disciplines," said Stephanie Wallach, FSO director and assistant vice provost for undergraduate education.

Groschner has been engaged in research since her freshman year at CMU and has received ongoing support from the university's Undergraduate Research Office. She first worked as a research assistant in College of Engineering Professor Michael McHenry's lab, where they completed a multi-year study of magnetic minerals found on Mars. Their work, funded by the National Science Foundation's Materials World Network, involved collaboration with researchers from the Instituto Nacional de Técnica Aeroespacial in Madrid and a visit to the National High Field Magnetic Laboratory at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Groschner co-authored two papers with McHenry and presented at her first professional conference.

"Kate really carries the Carnegie Mellon name well outside the university," McHenry said. "She does excellent work in the laboratory, she's very self-motivated and she's thorough."

Throughout the two following summers, she participated in the National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Vermont. This year, she is working with CMU College of Engineering faculty member Jay Whitacre, founder of Aquion Energy Inc., to develop a process for making grid-scale clean energy storage more affordable.

Groschner has held numerous student leadership positions at the university. She is a member of the Tau Beta Pi engineering honors society, and she served as vice president of the Materials Science and Engineering Student Advisory Council and secretary of Material Advantage. Along with fellow upperclassmen, she developed and taught a class for freshmen interested in learning about different fields within engineering. In addition, she has served on the executive and editorial boards of CMU's student newspaper, The Tartan.


Kate Groschner (pictured above), a senior materials science and engineering major, is the 11th CMU student to receive the Churchill Scholarship, one of the most prestigious awards for studying abroad in the United Kingdom. She plans to pursue a Master of Philosophy in Energy Technologies and conduct photovoltaics research.