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2014-2015 ARCS Foundation Phoenix Scholars

Posted on Thursday, September 25, 2014

ARCS® Foundation Phoenix is honored to present the 2014-2015 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.


2014 - 2015 




Caroline Addington

  • Wilhoit Scholar 
  • ASU: Biomedical Engineering
  • Research Interest: Investigating the driving forces behind the endogenous repair response following traumatic brain injury. She is working to develop a population of neural stem cells that are more effective at mediating the secondary long-term effects of traumatic brain injury. 


Ryan Bastle

  • Lauber Endowment Scholar
  • ASU: Neuroscience
  • Research Interest: Examining the epigenetic regulation of genes that have been linked to drug abuse. His collaborative projects investigate social influences on the consumption of and motivation for drugs of abuse, as well as the neural circuitry underlying these behaviors. 


Henry Braun

  • Louis Jugloff Endowment Scholar
  • ASU: Electrical Engineering
  • Research Interest: Developing reconstruction, detection, and tracking algorithms for use with compressive sensing Infrared and visible light cameras. An accurate, robust computer vision system could be applied to autonomous navigation for vehicles and robots on both Mars and Earth and to medical images used in the diagnosis of stroke and brain tumor.

Rafeed Chaudhury

  • Spetzler Scholar
  • ASU: Biomedical Engineering
  • Research Interest: Improving the current state of medical imaging for prediction and early diagnosis of cardiovascular diseases. His collaboration with clinicians from Barrow Neurological Institute, Mayo Clinic, University of Arizona, and Phoenix Children's Hospital aims to bring a greater understanding of fluid dynamics in blood flow to innovate the field of medical imaging diagnostics.

Rene Davis

  •  Papadopoulos Scholar
  • ASU: Biological Design
  • Research Interest: Synthetic biology with an emphasis on engineering biological devices such as biosensors to diagnose diseases. She has designed a yeast biosensor that will detect and respond to an airborne chemical signature produced by the bacterium that causes tuberculosis infection.

Samuel Dodge

  • Burton Scholar
  • ASU: Electrical Engineering
  • Research Interest: Exploring the use of human visual attention models in computer vision applications.This transformative technology can be applied to self-driving vehicles and computer-assisted medical diagnosis.

Rebecca Everett

  • Carson-Senger Scholar
  • ASU: Applied Mathematics
  • Research Interest: Developing mathematical models of cancer treatment. She is working on developing models of intermittent androgen suppression therapy for prostate cancer patients, important for patients with recurring cancer. She hopes to extend her findings to breast cancer.

James Gifford

  • Douglas Scholar
  • ASU: Civil/Environmental Engineering
  • Research Interest: Developing the science and technology of nanoparticles embedded in sorption resins for the removal of inorganic pollutants from drinking water. In this way, he hopes to create simple-to-operate drinking water treatment systems ideal for small communities.

Mark Ison

  • Theodore Family Scholar
  • ASU: Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Research Interest: Developing neural control mechanical devices with a particular interest in advanced applications for rehabilitation robotics such as prosthetics and assistive devices. He aims to develop widely available myoelectric interfaces that offer user-friendly, efficient control for patients recovering from mechanical and neurological injuries and disorders.

Brian Johnson

  • Johnston Endowment Scholar
  • ASU: Biological Design
  • Research Interest: Understanding the basic biology of the clinically relevant poxviruses vaccinia and monkeypox. He seeks to develop vaccinia-based vaccines for diseases other than smallpox, which is already controlled by vaccinia. Monkeypox, a rare but powerful virus, is considered a potential bioterrorism threat, and its study may give insight into the causes of virus pathogenicity.


Emily Julik

  • Kucera Scholar
  • ASU: Molecular and Cellular Biology
  • Research Interest: Developing a measles vaccine incorporating an increased dosage of envelope glycoproteins to be administered to infants at a younger age than the current vaccine. Such a vaccine may reduce measles-related mortality and aid in the global drive to eliminate measles.

Keith Morrison

  • Ellie and Michael Ziegler Scholar
  • ASU: Geomicrobiology
  • Research Interest: Developing the use of antibacterial clays to kill antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. The aim of his research is to provide insights into bacterial metal regulation and mineral chemistry, leading to the creation of novel antibacterial agents.

Elizabeth Nofen

  • Lawson Scholar
  • ASU: Chemical Engineering
  • Research Interest: Examining ionic liquids (novel liquid electrolytes commonly called "green" and "designer" solvents) and polymeric ionic liquids.The combination of these materials with the Pickering (solid-stabilized) emulsion allows for the creation of highly tunable systems for a variety of applications such as catalysis, electrochemistry, and oil recovery.


Justin Ryan

  • Sonntag Scholar
  • ASU: Biomedical Engineering
  • Research Interest: Creating computational and physical models of vascular systems at the Image Processing Applications Laboratory. In collaboration with Phoenix Children's Hospital, he runs the day-to-day operations of the 3D Cardiac Print Lab, which creates anatomical models for surgical planning, patient-family consultations, and medical education.

Ramin Tadayon

  • Mary Ann White Memorial Scholar
  • ASU: Computer Science
  • Research Interest: Examining the intersection of game theory and neuroscience to create serious games that enhance learning and motivate positive behaviors. He is currently developing a gaming system for at-home stroke rehabilitation, immersing patients in entertaining gameplay while improving upper body motion.




2014 - 2015



Hillary Cooper

  • Marley Foundation Scholar In Memory of Mr. Milton "Bud" Webb
  • NAU: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
  • Research Interest: Examining responses of native plant communities to extreme events such as drought and species invasion using multiple techniques, including experimental gardens and community phylogenetics. Her studies are essential for restoration programs and the long-term management and conservation of native landscapes.

Anne (Betsy) Goodrich

  • ARCS/Windrow Endowment Scholar
  • NAU: Forest Science
  • Research Interest: Examining regeneration ecology across a range of disease severities and forest management treatments. A complementary greenhouse study will determine population traits linked to growth and stress, fitness costs of disease resistance, and future seed transfer guidelines under a changing climate.

Karl Jarvis

  • ARCS Scholar
  • NAU: Ecosystem Science
  • Research Interest: Extending the use of wildlife genetics in conservation biology. He assesses the effects of roadways, which cause major changes in the genetic structures of natural populations, specifically on spatial patterns of genetic diversity in wildlife species.

Clinton Moran

  • ARCS Scholar
  • NAU: Fish Biology
  • Research Interest: Examining the morphological variation and phenotypic plasticity in fishes native to Arizona, many of which are endangered. His research supports the idea that ecosystem-level management is necessary to preserve the endangered species of our Southwestern waterways.






2013 - 2014 




Mathew Bull

  • Van Denburgh Scholar
  • UA: Cardiovascular Physiology
  • Research Interest: Understanding Titin, a giant elastic protein, and its role in cardiac hypertrophy and diastolic dysfunction. Both of these processes play a crucial role in heart failure, a disease that affects millions of Americans. He aims to design much-needed therapeutic targets specifically for diastolic heart failure.


Celine Cohn

  • Dr. Lisa Fannin Scholar
  • UA: Biomedical Engineering
  • Research Interest: Characterizing a new cholesterol-based material that can help capture cells of interest, such as endothelial cells and viral cells. She reently received a proof-of-concept award to develop a minimally invasive breast cancer diagnostic platform using this material.


Jerrie Fairbanks

  • Crawford Endowment Scholar
  • UA: Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Research Interest: Working on ultra-high speed electronics required to sample extremely fast optical signals for observing biomolecular interactions and short-lived products, and on blood analysis instrumentation for the DOD. He anticipates real-time observation of previously undiscerned early events in populations of cells and microorganisms caused by the environment as well as in diseases.

Derek Groenendyk

  • Tucker Scholar
  • UA: Hydrology
  • Research Interest: Addressing the challenges facing the use of remote-sensed soil moisture data to improve crop yield predictions of conceptual crop models. His goal is to determine useful approaches in applying this information to improve agricultural production for food and renewable energy.

Corin Hammond

  • The Kemper & Ethel Marley Foundation Scholar
  • UA: Soil, Water and Environmental Science
  • Research Interest: Reducing toxic metal transport from mine tailings, a waste byproduct of industrial mining that often contains hazardous levels of toxic and carcinogenic elements. She is investigating whether growing native desert plants on top of the tailings will successfully eliminate air and water erosion, toxic contaminant transport, and leaching..

Michelle Hine

  • Eller Scholar 
  • UA: Applied Mathematics
  • Research Interest: Using an interdisciplinary focus on soft tissue growth and remodeling to understand the development of myopia (nearsightedness). She is using mathematics and coding to create a computational model of the the eye to see how it grows in response to an increase in pressure. This approach may provide a better understanding of how myopia and other ocular diseases develop.

Maureen Keenan

  • Lafollette/Libby/Windrow Endowments Scholar
  • UA: Biomedical Engineering
  • Research Interest: Applying novel optical techniques for the early detection of colon and ovarian cancers. She built a dual-modality endoscope that combines fluorescence-based surface magnifying chromoendoscopy and optical coherence tomography to image the colon, detecting adenoma development in mice with high sensitivity and specificity.  

Sarah MacNamee

  • Kathryn Johnston West Scholar
  • UA: Neuroscience
  • Research Interest: Examining the role that non-neuronal cells called glia play in brain diseases. She is pursuing fundamental questions about glia cell physiology.  Her Drosophila research is designed to generate new concepts about the way that neurons interact with their central nervous system co-inhabitants.

Brian Mannakee

  • ARCS/Prentice Scholar
  • UA: Statistics
  • Research Interest: Understanding bioinformatics, systems biology, and experimental biochemistry to identify the functional drivers of molecular evolution. He is developing tools and insights to make experimentally verifiable predictions about where mutations will arise in biological protein interaction networks under selective pressure.



Reece Mazade

  • The Kemper and Ethel Marley Foundation Scholar
  • UA: Neuroscience
  • Research Interest: Understanding how light-evoked inhibitory signals in the retina are modulated by different ambient light states. This work will greatly contribute to our understanding of normal retinal function for use as a baseline for retinal diseases such as diabetic retinopathy, providing vital information for the modeling and production of retinal prosthetic applications.

Zach Newman

  • Lawson Scholar
  • UA: Optical Sciences
  • Research Interest: Examining turbulent flows in cold atomic gases, called Bose-Einstein Condensates, with the aim of developing new insights and deeper understanding of the physics of turbulence in these unique systems. His research into these well-controlled gases seeks to gain insights into the mechanims for turbulent flow.

Stefanie Novak

  • Haga Scholar
  • UA: Cellular and Molecular Medicine
  • Research Interest: Examining the Fragile X protein, a RNA-binding protein that controls the levels of other functionally necessary proteins, and its role in heart development and disease at the molecular level.

Sara Parker

  • Spychala Family Scholar
  • UA: Physiological Sciences
  • Research Interest: Investigating how the form and function of neuronal circuits are estabished in development, are maintained in adulthood, and can be repaired after injury or disease. A cohesive understanding of circuit dynamics holds immense promise for therapeutics in neurodegenerative disease, developmental cognitive disabiity, and traumatic brain and spinal cord injury. 

Dennis Pollow, Jr. 

  • Eller Scholar
  • UA: Physiological Sciences
  • Research Interest: Understanding the mechanism(s) for protecting females fom developing hypertension early in their lives. Using an accelerated ovarian failure model of menopause, he hopes to identify the cellular and systematic mechanisms(s) underlying this shift.  

Kayla Polzin

  • The Steele Foundation Scholar
  • UA: Biochemistry
  • Research Interest: Examining the role of metals, specifically iron, silver and copper, in infectious bacterial pathogenesis and resistance. The use of toxic metals is a novel approach to preventing bacterial growth, but many bacteria that have developed metal resistance are homologous to protein systems involved with antibiotic resistance. The goal of her research is to further future antibiotic development by understanding how bacteria expel toxic metals.

Michael Rak

  • The Sandra Matteucci/Ralph Matteucci Endowment Scholar
  • UA: Cellular and Molecular Medicine
  • Research Interest: Understanding the mechanisms by which the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), which infects 60-90% of the population worldwide, establishes a latent infection as well as what controls the reactivation of a latent infection. By identifying and understanding what controls HCMV latency, he hopes to provide new ways to prevent or eliminate HCMV infection.

Brandon Thompson

  • Might Scholar
  • UA: Physiological Sciences
  • Research Interest: Understanding the regulation of blood-brain barrier transporters in the context of cerebral hypoxia/reoxygenation. Cerebral hypoxia and subsequent reoxygenation stress is a central component of many diseases, including traumatic brain injury, ischemic stroke, and cardiac arrest. He hopes to lead to efficacious therapeutics that can be delivered to the brain for "rescue" of salvageable neural tissue.



Brian Wheelwright

  • Burton Scholar
  • UA: Optical Sciences
  • Research Interest: Using large mirrors and small high-efficiency solar cells to prototype solar devices with the potential for low-cost solar electricity. His efforts to improve glass-forming techniques, measurement, and sun-tracking are all aimed at reducing the cost of concentrating solar modules so they can compete directly with fossil fuels without subsidies.