2020-21 COE Graduate Fellowship Recipients


Sterling Baird



Prior to admission to the University of Utah, I attended Brigham Young University studying Applied Physics (B.Sc.) and later Mechanical Engineering (M.Sc.) while engaging in various materials science research projects, including an internship at the NASA Langley Research Center. I was president of the BYU Breakdance Club and a member of the BYU dunk team, and still enjoy breakdancing on occasion. I consider myself a foodie and love going out to pho or sushi with my wife and trying new foods. I plan to continue researching new advances in materials and am excited to join the Materials Science & Engineering department at the University of Utah.

Yang Chen



Yang Chen is the first-year PhD graduate student in the Dr Tamara Bidone’s lab with a huge passion to explore the biological system using the interdisciplinary skills. During the first academic year, Yang not only makes great performance on the coursework but also concentrates on research of developing a computational model to simulate and investigate the behavior of a significant cell-adhesion protein. Additionally, Yang attends the Bench to Bedside (B2B) competition to acquire the experience of how to convert techniques to products that can serve the purpose of living a better and healthier life. Scientists at different stages of history persistently pursued the truth of the world out of their curiosities, resulting in the exponential development of technology. In the future, Yang will inspect how the emerging computational skills affect the research on the modelling of a biological system, leading to a more comprehensive understanding of the biomedical field!

Shaila Collins



Shaila S. Collins is a senior in the electrical engineering program at The University of Mississippi. Her interest in electrical engineering began in high school where she heard about the program from visiting electrical engineering students who demonstrated some fundamentals of robotics to the engineering club. Inspired by this experience, Shaila helped promote STEM education by working with members of Women in Physics to create demos and tours for the annual STEM Camp for Girls. As a member of Women in Physics, she enjoys learning about female scientists through presentations and discussions. Shaila hopes to continue these efforts in helping empower others and spread awareness about issues facing women in STEM as she transitions from undergraduate to graduate school. Upon graduation, she will be joining the Ph.D. program at the University of Utah, where she plans to continue studying electrical engineering with an emphasis in electromagnetics.

Taylor Greenwood



Taylor Greenwood is a first-year PhD student in the Additive Manufacturing Laboratory at the University of Utah. He previously received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from Brigham Young University (’17, ’20). His graduate research at BYU focused on developing 3D printing processes for fabricating centimeter-scale, solid-infill shapes from silicone elastomers. Much of this research focused on fabricating life-size synthetic, self-oscillating vocal fold models which are used to study the biomechanics of the human voice. Taylor and his wife Amanda currently live in Salt Lake City. In their spare time they enjoy cooking together, playing disc golf, and exploring the outdoors.

Ethan Griswold



Ethan Griswold is pursuing a doctoral degree in biomedical engineering with a focus on biomaterials and therapeutics at the University of Utah. Prior to Utah, Ethan conducted research at the University of Vermont and at the Uniklinikum RWTH Aachen University in Germany. He worked on improving the hemocompatibility of lung assist devices, pulmonary xenotransplantation of mammalian and avian species, immunogenicity studies of proteins, and adapting 3D printing technology for biological materials. Ethan completed his Bachelor of Science at the Rochester Institute of Technology, where he was part of several organizations, including Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honors Society. He also served as president of his local chapter of Engineering World Health, as part of which he traveled to Guatemala and worked with local hospitals to repair medical equipment.

Jacob Immonen



Jake graduated magna cum laude with an Honors B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Utah in 2017. Since then he has worked as a field engineer for a water treatment company specializing in biological water treatment at various industrial sites. Jake’s decision to pursue a PhD comes from his love of the environment and his desire to find innovative and sustainable engineering solutions that preserve the environment while also amplifying humans’ quality of life. Jake plans on working in Dr. Kody Powell’s research group with his research based around modeling, optimizing, and controlling complex energy systems. Jake enjoys challenging himself mentally through engineering problems and physically through various backcountry adventures.

Mary Jeppson



As a chemical engineer, Mary Jeppson has contributed substantial research in the fields of nanotechnology, analytical chemistry and material science. Her research into volatile organic compounds in human breath was selected as a capstone senior project by the University of Utah Chemical Engineering department. She is currently pursing research investigating volatile organic compounds in pneumonia with Dr. Swomitra Mohanty. Mary is the recipient of the Jason Job Endowed scholarship, the Mahonri Faber Memorial scholarship, the Michael and Nina Palmer scholarship and the Walter and Treva Pershing Endowed scholarship. Mary is also an accomplished violinist. She has a master’s degree from Rice University in Violin Performance and was the concertmaster of the University of Utah orchestra, a concerto competition winner and the outstanding senior for the arts.

Seth Miller



Seth Miller graduated from the University of Utah with a BS/MS degree in Civil Engineering. He entered the Ph.D. program in Spring 2020. Although his major is in civil engineering, Seth took a number of courses in the CS department and is well-versed in algorithms, machine learning, and big data. Seth is currently analyzing massive GPS trajectory data in Utah. His Ph.D. will focus on inferring mobility patterns throughout Utah via machine learning and data visualization.

Laura Moldovan



I graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in Biomedical Engineering and a minor in Biological Sciences. Previously, I have pursued research in the area of biomaterials, drug delivery, and neurobiology. Specifically, my research involved the investigation of the ocular biodistribution of polymeric nanoparticles following topical application. Additionally, I have worked in the field of cancer biology, to examine the connection between cancer and stromal cells. Finally, I have studied the biochemical pathways involved in hypoglycemia-associated autonomic failure (HAAF) using mice as a model for clinical application. My current research interests are focused on direct clinical applications of technologies developed in the lab. In other words, I hope to meet direct clinical needs through the innovation of biodevices and pharmaceuticals.

Carl Peterson



Carl Peterson is a first year Ph.D. student in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department. He attended Central College in Iowa then transferred to and graduated from Montana State University with a BS in Electrical Engineering. He was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona and enjoys the outdoors, rock climbing, singing, and playing musical instruments.

Michael Reynolds



Michael Allen Reynolds, a native of Idaho Falls, Idaho, discovered his love for energy efficiency through the University of Utah’s Intermountain Industrial Assessment Center during his undergraduate studies and is excited to again work with Dr. Kody Powell and Julie Sieving on energy related research. After graduating in the top 10% of the 2018 graduating class, he entered the world of energy efficiency with Nexant, a local energy engineering consulting firm, providing savings analysis for Rocky Mountain Power and Dominion Energy’s rebates and incentives programs. Now returning to his alma mater, his research interests include energy efficiency in commercial and industrial processes, smart grid systems, and optimization. His non-academic pursuits include basketball, fishing, gardening, and exploring the mountains of Idaho and Utah by ski and by foot.

Caleb Thomson



I am the oldest child of two teachers. My love for learning started young when I drove my mother crazy with my constant question of “Why?” When she didn’t know she would direct me to a book that I could read to find the answer. I decided to pursue a career in Biomedical Engineering because of my love for math, science, and problem solving. I want to work on technology that will improve the medical industry. After my graduate studies I hope to be a research and design engineer in medical devices. I completed my undergraduate studies at Utah State University in Biological Engineering with a Computer Science minor. I worked at Frontier Scientific and in a couple of research labs in tissue engineering and NanoBioPhotonics at USU while completing my degree. Outside of school and the lab I enjoy playing music and being active and outside.

Steven Tran



Steven Tran was born and raised in Boise, Idaho. He recently graduated from Boise State University with a bachelor's degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering and a minor in Computer Science. His primary interests within electrical engineering are the subfields of system integration, analog/ digital circuit design, and semiconductor. Steven hopes to use what he learns in school to one day positively impact communities around the world. In his free time, Steven enjoys playing basketball, hiking, and hanging out with friends and family. Steven will begin his new journey towards a PhD in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Utah in the Fall of 2020.

Rachel Walker



Rachel Walker will begin her PhD in the School of Computing at the University of Utah this Fall. She is currently completing her Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics at Central Washington University. As an undergraduate, Rachel worked on a variety of research projects in algorithmic graph theory and theoretical machine learning. Last summer, she attended an REU at Georgia Institute of Technology where she worked on determining the necessary conditions for deriving stable discrete optimization algorithms from continuous-time dynamics. Rachel is currently finishing her undergraduate honors thesis on finding sets of minimum eccentricity shortest paths in some structured graph classes. Before coming to Utah, she will spend the summer interning on the Scientific Infrastructure team at Schrödinger, a chemical simulation software company in Portland. In her free time, Rachel enjoys skiing, hiking, and playing board games.