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2012 - 2013 ARCS Foundation Phoenix Scholars

Posted on Saturday, March 8, 2014

ARCS® Foundation Phoenix was honored to present the 2012-2013 Scholar Awards to these outstanding Ph.D. candidates from Arizona State UniversityNorthern Arizona University, and University of Arizona. The ARCS Foundation Scholar Award is $7,000 per year. All scholars must apply through their universities on an annual basis.

 2012 - 2013 ASU Scholars 

Scott Beeman

  • Burton Scholar
  • ASU: Biomedical Engineering
  • Research Interest: Molecular imaging, focusing on early diagnosis of hepatic and renal disease by developing an MRI-visible molecular probe via labeling of the extracellular matrix.

Christopher Bruot

  • Douglas Scholar
  • ASU: Physics
  • Research Interest: Use of single molecules as electronic devices and the manipulation of unique molecular properties to develop novel electron devices that will be used in the biomedical industry.

Derek Caselli

  • Wilhoit Scholar
  • ASU: Electrical Engineering
  • Research Interest: Develop, design, fabricate, and test a new type of high-effeciency solar cell utilizing semiconductor alloy nanowires to offer a path to less expensive solar energy.

Jessica Corman

  • Might Scholar
  • ASU: Biology
  • Research Interest: Methods to attenuate nutrient pollution in freshwaters, specifically calcium carbonate deposits and microbial growth in aquatic systems.

Denzil Frost

  • Louis Jugloff Memorial Scholar Scholar
  • ASU: Chemical Engineering
  • Research Interest: Theoretical and experimental research on solid particle self-assembly in ionic liquids for wide applications in drug delivery, oil recovery, and CO2 capture.

Joshua Gibson

  • Burton Scholar
  • ASU: Biology
  • Research Interest: Investigating the genetic basis of species differences and of hybrid breakdown. The mechanism of this breakdown provides invaluable information to understand and prevent common diseases.

Morgan Giers

  • Balster-Evani Family Scholar
  • ASU: Biomedical Engineering
  • Research Interest: Drug delivery from orthopedic implants by developing a method to look at antimicrobials in vivo using MRI and antimicrobial delivery to reduce infection in orthopedic surgeries.

Brian Johnson

  • Johnston Endowment Scholar
  • ASU: Biological Design
  • Research Interest: Biology of the poxviruses vaccinia and monkeypox. Monkeypox is a  virulent virus considered a potential bioterrorism. Causes of virus pathogenicity may lead to novel therapeutics.

Avishek Kumar

  • Prentice Scholar
  • ASU: Physics
  • Research Interest: Developing new computational techniques of continuous random networks for use in stuudying amorphous grapheme, regarded as a wonder material because of its unique electronic, optical and thermal properies.

Caitlin Otto

  • ARCS Scholar
  • ASU: Microbiology
  • Research Interest: Investigating the mechanism of a natural antibacterial clay mineral mixture that exhibits in vitro antibacterial activity against a broad spectrum of bacterial pathogens. Potential for treatment against topical bacterial infections.

Aaron Packer

  • Anixter Scholar
  • ASU: Applied Mathematics
  • Research Interest: Developing mathematical models for problems in the fields of bioengineering, cancer, and disease modeling. Currently studying the hepatitis D virus (HDV). Although rare, chronic HDV infection has the greatest mortality rate of all hepatitis infections.

Joshua Richer

  • ARCS Scholar
  • ASU: Biological Design
  • Research Interest: Understanding surface effects on peptide microarrays for early diagnosis of disease and for rapid drug discovery.  This platform monitors the immune system for changes and associates these changes with a disease state.

Helen Schwerdt

  • ARCS/Templin Endowment Scholar
  • ASU: Electrical Engineering
  • Research Interest: Developing a wireless and fully-passive neurorecording microsystem for potential application in treating neurological disorders as well as furthering knowledge of brain function.

David Taylor

  • Sonntag Scholar
  • ASU: Chemical Engineering
  • Research Interest: Drug repositioning to identify new treatements for prostate, breast and pancreatic cancer disease from existing FDA approved drugs.

Kurt Whittemore

  • Theodore Scholar
  • ASU: Biological Design
  • Research Interest: Identification of unique cancer antigens from random peptides to develop cancer therapeutics and vaccines recognized by the immune system of an organism.
 2012 - 2013 NAU Scholars 

Ryan Fitch

  • Ralph Matteucci Endowment Scholar
  • NAU: Forestry
  • Research Interest: Economic trade-offs between wildfire suppression costs and fuel treatments. Understanding the benfits of investment in natural capital to shape future policies for wildland fire and fuel managemet

Brenda Harrop

  • ARCS Scholar
  • NAU: Biology
  • Research Interest: Nutrient dynamics in streams and the contributions of microorganisms to these processes.  Studying nitrogen cycling in aquatic systems and using a variety of approaches to better understand the microbial communities involved.

Lucy Mullin Kerhoulas

  • Lauber Endowment Scholar
  • NAU: Biology
  • Research Interest: How land management and climate affect forest health and productivity; regional water yield; and carbon sequestration in ponderosa pine forests.

Louis Lamit

  • ARCS/Windrow Endowment Scholar
  • NAU: Biology
  • Research Interest: Investigating the positive effects of endophytic fungi associated with the bark of cottonwood trees and documenting rare endophyte species.  They are known to protect a variety of plants from stresses of temperature and disease and can be directly beneficial to humans because of the chemicals they produce.

Theresa McHugh

  • The Marley Foundation Scholar in memory of Mr. Milton "Bud" Webb
  • NAU: Biology
  • Research Interest: The soil nitrogen cycle in an Arizona grassland that experiences sharp contrasts in precipitaiton patterns. The impact of the monsoon rains on soil microbial population dynamics and nitrogen mineralization rates affect plant growth, and in turn Arizona ranchers.

Robert Strahan

  • ARCS/Libby Endowment Scholar
  • NAU: Forest Science
  • Research Interest: Statistical and simulation modeling to explain and predict plant population and community responses to climate, competition, and historical disturbance. Benefits are of value for scientists and managers concerned with conservation biology and ecology in the Southwest.
 2012 - 2013 UA Scholars 

Logan Ahlstrom

  • Lawson Scholar
  • UA: Chemistry
  • Research Interest: Novel biophysical computational techniques to set protein snapshots in motion to decipher how well static images represent their dynamic physiological state. Resulting research in the area of Parkinson's disease has been cited by researchers in fields from neurochemistry to physics.

Benjamin Berman

  • Papadopoulos Scholar
  • UA: Applied Mathematics
  • Research Interest: Compressed sensing design for medical imaging to acquire faster signals measuring fewer points and maintaining high level signal quality. Acceleration of data collection means increased efficiency and reduced health care costs.

Danielle Buck

  • Van Denburgh Scholar
  • UA: Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Molecular mechanisms underlying skeletal muscle diseases. Utilizing novel models to determine the structure and function of molecular changes that occur in a skeletal muscle disorder called nemaline myopathy.

Marina Cholanian

  • Steele Foundation Scholar
  • UA: Neuroscience
  • Research Interest: Neuroendocrine mechanisms underlying the control of human reproduction in a subpopulation of neurons called neurokinin B. Identifying the role these neurons play in regulating hormonal release manifesting the onset of menopause as well as their responses to estrogen with drawal and/or replacement.

Helen Fan

  • Haga Scholar
  • UA: Optical Sciences
  • Research Interest: Development of a low-cost, low-dose CT scanner using high spatial resolutions camera. Construction of a digital radiography (DR) system that provides higher quality imaging equipment at a low cost.

Shannin Fortin

  • Eller Scholar
  • UA: Cancer Biology
  • Research Interest: Cause of tumor cell invasion and resistance to chemotherapy of glioblasoma multiforme (GBM), a form of brain tumor. Interested in the study of the genetic signature of brain tumors and consequent molecular signaling responsible for tumor invasion.

Christian Gainer

  • Crawford Endowment Scholar
  • UA: Biomedical Engineering
  • Research Interest: Investigating novel approaches to imaging and analyis of cancer tissue using nano-particle contrast agents.  Development of a super resolution microscope that uses the ratio of green and red light emitted by nanoparticles to achieve new levels of image detail in live cells.

William Guenthner

  • Prentice Scholar
  • UA: Geoscience
  • Research Interest: Improve understanding of a popular radiometric dating method (zircon (U-TH)/He and expand its utility. This improved dating technique will be used to study the uplift and erosion history of mountain ranges and improve quantitative methods in geosciences.

Nathaniel Hart

  • Eller Scholar
  • UA: Physiological Sciences
  • Research Interest: Targeting pancreatic Beta Cells, specifically on the development and progression of diabetes. Method is to use multimetric ligands that allow exploration of specific cell types associated with normal function and disease within the human body.



Theresa White Horm

  • Kucera Scholar
  • UA: Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Research Interest: Increase understanding of a fundamental process in cancer progression: metastasis. Investigate how the Scatter Factor Receptor cMet is activated and affected by MUC1 and EGFR. Develop therapeutics to block activation and thus block metastasis from the primary tumor.

Joseph Keyes

  • Mary Anne White Memorial Scholar
  • UA: Biomedical Engineering
  • Research Interest: Identify the chemomechanical properties of blood vessels and how they relate to drug delivery from devices such as drug-eluting stents to treat coronary artery disease.  Relate these propterties to the vessel microstructure that is responsible for the mechanical response.

Jared Males

  • ARCS/LaFollette Endowment Scholar
  • UA: Astronomy
  • Research Interest: Adaptive optics in the visible region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Developing advanced prediction algorithms that will be used to optimize the operation of a new Visible-AO camera with nearly three thimes the resolution of the Hubble Space Telescope at a fraction of the cost.

Grey Nearing

  • The Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation Scholar
  • UA: Hydrology
  • Research Interest: Development of algorithms for merging data and land process models to make predictions about and improve our understanding of environmental systems, specifically global-scale estimates of agricultural yield.

Shiva Planjery

  • Kathryn Johnston West Scholar
  • UA: Electrical Engineering
  • Research Interest: Coding and information theory, specifically developing new decoding algorithms for a class of error-correction codes called low-density parity-check codes.  Vital for ensuring high reliability and low-power consumption in communication systems.

Timothy Renkowski

  • The Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation Scholar
  • UA: Optical Sciences
  • Research Interest: Multispectral fluorescence imaging of human colon tissue for cancer detection and microscopic fluorescence imaging of pancreatic cells for cytopathology. Potential as a visual aid to surgeons in removing tumors while leaving the surrounding normal tissue in place.

Joshua Spinler

  • Haga Scholar
  • UA: Geosciences
  • Research Interest: Using precise GPS data to model crustal processes. Investigating the deformation patterns associated with the El Mayor-Cucapah earthquake through the use of satellite geodesy.  Estimating slip rates for crustal faults and investigating the response of the crust following large-magnitude earthquakes.

Jennifer Watson

  • Spetzler Scholar
  • UA: Biomedical Engineering
  • Research Interest: Novel optical imaging techniques to detect microscopic structual changes in the ovary during the early stages of ovarian cancer formation.  Develpment of minimally invasive in situ diagnostic test for patients at high risk for ovarian cancer.