Five MSE Students Chosen as NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program Winners

Five recipients of the 2019 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowships awards were UF Department of Materials Science & Engineering students.

Amalie Atassi, Jacob Ewing, Jomary Mercado-Montjito, Abigail Nason and Monica Wall were awarded the fellowship, created to support graduate study in a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field.

The Department also had three other students, Nick Etrick, Emma Cochran, and Chappel Sharock win Honorable Mention.

“All of these students deserve recognition for their hard work and dedication to their research,” said Department Chair Michelle Manuel, Ph.D. “This award recognizes their scholarship and success both inside and outside of the classroom.”

Out of over 12,000 applicants, only 2,000 were chosen to receive the fellowship.


AMALIE ATASSI – Materials Science & Engineering

Amalie_Atassi Amalie Atassi majored in Materials Science & Engineering with a certification in Semiconductors Materials. Her fondest memories are “of my friends and I enjoying Friday afternoons at Plaza of the Americas eating delicious Krishna meals.” Amalie feels the most exciting thing she has done as a UF student was to coordinate an educational module about piezoelectricity for second-graders in the Gainesville community. Starting in Fall 2019, Amalie will be at the Georgia Institute of Technology working on organic thermoelectrics with Dr. Natalie Stingelin and Dr. Shannon Yee. Her goal is to address today’s global warming concerns through innovative cooling techniques.

JACOB EWING – Materials Science & Engineering

Jacob EwingJacob Ewing was a senior in Material Science & Engineering with a specialization in electronic materials and graduated Summa Cum Laude. He has been extensively involved in undergraduate research, working for Dr. David Arnold in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering. His undergraduate research focuses on making magnetic films for microelectromechanical systems (MEMS). As an undergraduate he authored three published journal papers and also gave two conference presentations. During the summer of 2018 Jacob interned at Sandia National Labs. After graduating from the University of Florida, he will pursue his Ph.D. in Materials Science & Engineering at the University of California Santa Barbara. At UCSB, he will be working under Dr. Steven DenBaars in the Solid State Lighting & Energy Electronics Center (SSLEEC). His Ph.D. research will focus on MOCVD growth of gallium nitride for LEDs and laser diodes.

JOMARY MERCADO-MONTIJO – Materials Science & Engineering

Jomary Mercado-MontjoJomary Mercado – Montijo is a first year Ph.D. student in Materials Science & Engineering at the University of Florida. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez. As an undergraduate student, she participated in the PR-LSAMP program for two years as a researcher in materials science as well as in internships in the U.S. Pursuing her doctoral studies, she earned the Bridge to the Doctorate Fellowship and joined Dr. Jennifer Andrew’s research group. During her first year, Jomary has received the NIMET and Dow Chemical Fellowships, and presented her work at the 2019 ERN-Conference. Her research project is based on the design of hydrogel micro-particles for pulmonary drug delivery. The overall goal of the project is understanding the structure-property relationships in hydrogel micro-particles to tune their selectivity toward proteolytic enzymes for a more efficient local treatment in the lungs. 

ABIGAIL NASON – Materials Science & Engineering

Abigail NasonAbigail Nason graduated with a major in materials science and engineering and is specializing in polymers. “My most exciting undergraduate experience occurred when I participated in a movie-inspired Black Panther-themed Materials Da, hosted by the MSE department,” Abigail said. This program introduced local middle school female students to materials science and engineering. Abigail and her group centered the day around the theme of what it would be like to be Shuri, Black Panther’s sister, who engineered her brother’s entire arsenal using the all-powerful, fictional metal Vibranium. Abigail will be attending Cornell University and completing her Ph.D. in Materials Science & Engineering, focusing on polymeric materials. 

MONICA WALL – Materials Science & Engineering

Monica WallMonica Wall was a senior undergraduate student in the Materials Science & Engineering department. Throughout her undergraduate career, she worked in the laboratory of Dr. Christine Schmidt, researching a new technology for peripheral nerve injury repair. Additionally, Monica participated in a National Science Foundation Research Opportunity for Undergraduates at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) under Dr. Glenn Gaudette. At WPI, her research focused on further developing the Gaudette Lab’s acellular spinach scaffolds for use in tissue engineering applications. Monica’s other awards include acceptance to the University Scholars Program, the Robert E. Reed-Hill Scholarship, and membership in the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society and Alpha Sigma Mu Materials Engineering Honor Society. Following graduation, she will be pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, working under Dr. Ariella Shikanov. Her research will focus on engineering technology to restore reproductive and endocrine function in young women and girls with premature ovarian insufficiency.