Brown University School of Engineering

Brown Ph.D. Candidate Gutierrez, Graduates Pinals, Rodgers Selected NSF Graduate Research Fellows

April 12, 2018

Brown School of Engineering’s Ph.D. student Robert Gutierrez (biomedical engineering), as well as recent graduates Rebecca Pinals ’16 (chemical engineering) and Lila Van Hollen Rodgers ’16 (electrical engineering) have each won a three-year National Science Foundation (NSF) fellowship in the Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Thirty-one Brown students and alumni in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields were honored with tuition support and a stipend as promising young STEM leaders.

The NSF GRFP helps ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforces its diversity. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based masters and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. NSF Fellows are anticipated to become knowledge experts who can contribute significantly to research, teaching, and innovations in science and engineering. These individuals are crucial to maintaining and advancing the nation's technological infrastructure and national security as well as contributing to the economic well-being of society at large.

Robert Gutierrez is a second-year biomedical engineering Ph.D. student, investigating the interaction of cell mimic microspheres with Adipo-derived stem cells in 3D culture systems under the guidance of Associate Professor Eric Darling. Gutierrez’s research interests include mechanobiology and regenerative engineering.

Pinals has continued her education at the University of California at Berkeley, where she is researching highly selective fluorescent biosensors that leverage the unique properties of optically-active nanomaterials with adsorbed biomimetic polymers. Within this work, she is developing a new platform of sensors by surface engineering two-dimensional graphene quantum dots. While at Brown, she was advised by Assistant Professor Andrew Peterson, and was a member of Tau Beta Pi and the Society of Women Engineers.

Rodgers is currently doing graduate work at Princeton with the de Leon group. The de Leon lab studies nanophotonics, device physics, quantum optics, and materials science in diamond with the technological goals of realizing quantum networks and nanoscale systems. Before graduating Brown with honors, Rodgers was a member of the Society of Women Engineers and worked in the lab of Associate Professor Domenico Pacifici.

Honorable mention accolades went to Luke Huelsenbeck ’13 (chemical engineering).  Huelsenbeck is in his second year at the University of Virginia, after earning his mechanical engineering degree from Brown.

The GRFP provides a yearly stipend, along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees (paid to the institution), opportunities for international research and professional development, and offers the honoree the freedom to conduct his/her own research at any accredited U.S. institution of graduate education he/she chooses.