Carnegie Mellon University
June 22, 2022

Two MCS Students Named Fulbright Scholars

By Heidi Opdyke

Jocelyn Duffy
  • Associate Dean for Communications, MCS
  • 412-268-9982

The Fulbright U.S. Student Program has awarded grants to nine Carnegie Mellon University students and recent alumni, including two Mellon College of Science graduates, to teach English or pursue research on four continents.

Richelle Bernazzoli, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholar Development, said that the process for Fulbright applications begins with informational sessions in the spring, and crafting competitive submissions throughout the summer, fall and winter. Faculty and staff from across the university sit on Fulbright interview committees for each candidate, allowing applicants to discuss their plans with subject matter and area experts.

"It is incredibly gratifying to see these students and alumni receive grants after nearly a year of hard work on applications, interviews and correspondence with overseas affiliations," Bernazzoli said. "These grantees are to be commended for the immense effort they poured into their applications. We are so proud that they will be representing CMU!"

Counting this year's recipients more than 100 Tartans have earned Fulbright awards.

Tanvi Jakkampudi

Tanvi Jakkampudi, who graduated in 2022 with a bachelor's degree in physics (biological physics track) and a minor in biomedical engineering, earned a research award to study antimicrobial peptides, known as AMPs, at the Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) in Hamburg, Germany. DESY is home to one of the largest centers for particle accelerators.

"At DESY I will have the opportunity to utilize the world's leading high-energy synchrotron to characterize the peptides' structure and analyze interactions between the peptides and lipid model membranes to reveal possible bacterial-killing mechanisms," Jakkampudi said.

She said that Germany was interesting for her because of its drive to lead international innovation in physics as well as Germany's dedication to the health and well-being of its residents.

"I want to volunteer at a Hamburg clinic and explore how the German government sustainably runs their national health care program, so I can implement these practices through my nonprofit, Health Hub, to expand free access to health care to underserved communities across America," she said.

At CMU, Jakkampudi conducted research with Stephanie Tristram-Nagle, a research professor emerita of biophysics and Peter Di, an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at the University of Pittsburgh. She said the collaboration shaped her college experience and has sparked an interest and appreciation for combining physics and medicine.

"I have had incredible opportunities to explore this intersectional interest during my college years, and while my intended goal is to attend medical school and become a physician-scientist, I want to take one year between graduating from Carnegie Mellon and matriculating to medical school to further strengthen my research experience," she said.

Jenna Stanislaw

Jenna Stanislaw, who graduated in 2022 with a bachelor's degree in biological sciences and a minor in German studies will be conducting computational biology research in the Khmelinskaia Lab of the Life and Medical Sciences Institute (LIMES) of the University of Bonn.

"I had hoped to study abroad during my time as an undergraduate, but did not get the chance, and I planned to take a gap year after finishing undergrad to gain more research experience before going to graduate school," Stanislaw said. "A Fulbright seemed to be the perfect opportunity to allow me to accomplish both of these things."

Stanislaw, who is of German heritage and has been studying the language since high school, said a serendipitous connection made the research possible. In 2020, she started doing computational biology research with the King Lab at the University of Washington.

"My mentor from UW moved to the University of Bonn in the summer of 2021, providing me with an unexpected connection to a lab in Germany," she said. "I was thrilled at the opportunity to do research in Germany, where my interests in biology research and German culture could align."

Her research project will lay the foundations for an original platform to design two-component biosensors for detecting a molecule of interest, such as a viral antigen.

Stanislaw said she plans to apply for doctoral programs in immunology or computational biology after her Fulbright experience.

"Although I do not have extensive hands-on lab experience because my undergraduate research was remote, I am especially thankful for the chemistry and biology laboratory courses at CMU," Stanislaw said. "Though challenging, I believe these courses prepared me with the skills to learn quickly in a lab setting, taught me how to troubleshoot unexpected results, and introduced me to techniques that I will likely encounter during my research abroad."