The Minnesota Chapter of ARCS Foundation supports scholars from the University of Minnesota. All are selected by their respective schools and meet ARCS Foundation’s high standards of academic excellence.
ARCS Foundation Scholar Awards are presented each October, and provide Scholars with $5,000 per year, for two to three years depending on the specific Award mechanism.
Our current Scholars span five different departments at the University of Minnesota: Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics, Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Civil, Environmental, and Geo-Engineering, and Computer Science & Engineering.
Dean is a PhD student in the Mechanical Engineering department at the University of Minnesota. He works with Professor Kumar K. Tamma on the development and study of algorithms for transient and dynamic applications in computational mechanics. His research strives to foster a fundamental understanding of these algorithms in the engineering community, as well as to establish new techniques to aid in the simulation of complex problems in the physical sciences. In his roles as teaching assistant and course instructor, Dean is passionate about engaging students in an active learning process that emphasizes critical thinking and physical reasoning over rote memorization.
Dean grew up in Saint Paul, Minnesota and graduated summa cum laude with a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Minnesota in 2016. Dean broadly hopes that his work as a researcher and educator will advance the design of new and evolving technologies. He is grateful for the flexibility and security that the ARCS Scholar award will grant him in pursuing his graduate degree and plans to use the funds to continue his independent research projects.
Freddie is a PhD candidate in Dr. Michael Freeman's lab in the department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics (BMBB), which studies peptide natural product biosynthesis. Natural products are structurally diverse metabolites produced by microorganisms that often provide a survival advantage under specialized ecological or metabolic conditions. These molecules are very often used for medical or industrial applications as antibiotics, anti-cancer compounds, and food preservatives, to name a few. In particular, she studies the microbial enzymes and proteins responsible for building these specialized
This award will provide Freddie with freedom to spend more time mentoring high school students through their independent research projects. She provides practical guidance for project/concept development and bench work as well as more general mentoring in regards to academic and career development for the students.
Matt Lawler graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Biomedical Engineering (BME) in 2017. While at Georgia Tech, he was a member of the marching band, Chi Psi Fraternity, and BME mentorship program. After graduation, Matt worked for Lynntech, a small business innovation research (SBIR) based company, specifically working on R&D projects such as skeletal muscle tissue engineering and 3-D printing textiles.
Matt is a first-year BME PhD at the University of Minnesota currently rotating between various professors in or associated with the BME department before making his final advisor choice. He is interested in tissue biofabrication, specifically utilizing advanced manufacturing methods (e.g. 3-D printing) which can improve resolution, scalability, and biocompatibility of tissue prostheses. The ability to develop these prostheses is crucial due to the large clinical need for tissue patches and artificial organs. He is also a NIH T32 cardiovascular trainee, and therefore will be focusing on the cardiovascular system for his research.
Matt aims to produce research in the space of cardiovascular biofabrication which will push the field closer to develop viable tissues for implantation. Matt plans to use the funds graciously given by Minnesota ARCS to attend relevant conferences and better access resources in order to carry out his research.
Rachel Tenney is a second-year graduate student pursuing a Ph.D. in the department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering at UMN. She works under Drs. Paige Novak and Timothy LaPara and is studying nitrogen removal in rural wastewater treatment ponds. Rachel’s research focuses on elucidating fundamental mechanisms of nitrogen cycling with the goal of developing sustainable, practical methods for nutrient management in rural, low-infrastructure areas.
Rachel grew up in Albany, NY and graduated from Lafayette College (Easton, PA) in 2018 with a B.S. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering. As a Clare Boothe Luce Scholar and recipient of the Daniel P. O’Neil Award at Lafayette, Rachel studied non-Newton liquid mixing and conducted an honors research project on nutrient recovery from municipal wastewater in the form of fertilizer.
As an ARCS Scholar, Rachel will be able to participate in geographically diverse conferences, which will allow her to expand her academic and industrial networks and take advantage of invaluable professional-development opportunities. She also plans to continue to pursue her passion for mentorship, promoting visibility, and developing community among groups underrepresented in engineering.
Sze Cheng is a PhD Candidate in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, and Biophysics department at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is advised by Dr. Jeongsik Yong, which studies pre-mRNA processing in cancer. Sze aims to investigate the role of splicing factor U2AF1 mutation in transcriptome reprogramming in lung cancer. She integrates gene editing, biochemistry, and molecular biology approaches to characterize mutant U2AF1 functions. Her research will further the understanding of how U2AF1 mutation promotes cancer progression and will shed light on the mechanisms and novel therapeutic targets.
Sze received her B.S degree from Lafayette College in 2017 where she studied Biology. With the ARCS award, Sze will have the opportunities to travel and present her work at out-of-state conferences. These experiences will allow her to grow and become an independent scientist.
Nicholas (Nick) Heller
Nick is a PhD student in the department of Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He works under Professor Nikolaos Papanikolopoulos on the development of machine learning algorithms for medical image analysis. Nick hopes that his work will not only yield useful tools for clinical practice, but also aid in the discovery of visual biomarkers for non-invasive diagnoses.
Nick grew up in Burnsville, Minnesota and received his B.S. in computer science from the University of Minnesota in 2017. Nick is very grateful for this honor and plans to use the funds to expand his group's efforts toward a large-scale publicly available kidney cancer imaging database.