Seniors Stephanie Rich, environmental engineering, and Michael Perlin, physics, have both received prestigious scholarships for research that will send them to Germany this fall. Stephanie is the recipient of a Fulbright and Michael a DAAD.
Stephanie will be working as a Fulbright scholar in the Department of Environmental Biotech at the water technology center, TZW, in Karlsruhe, Germany. She will be working on trichloroethylene (TCE) degradation in a bioreactor.
“It’s a global endeavor to get it out of the groundwater,” Stephanie says. “Karlsruhe is very a sustainability oriented city.”
After her freshman year, Stephanie began working in Environmental Engineering Distinguished Professor Dr. Lewis Semprini’s lab working with microorganisms that degrade toxic groundwater contaminants. Her lab work was funded for two years through the School of Chemical, Biological and Environmental Engineering’s Johnson Internship Program and the university wide Undergraduate Research, Innovation, Scholarship & Creativity (URISC) award.
“I attribute a lot of my success to the funding I received during my undergrad,” Stephanie says.
She was able to use her research experience with Dr. Semprini and his connections to colleagues at the TZW in her application for Fulbright. Her thesis, which she is completing for graduation this spring, directly ties to the work she will be doing in Germany.
“My thesis is very related to what I will be researching in Germany,” Stephanie says. “It’s a kinetic analysis on the degradation of chlorinated ethylene, which is a form of bioremediation. I haven’t applied the organisms to the field yet, I have just worked on characterizing how fast they break down different hazardous materials, which will be important for application.”
Stephanie is looking forward to the prospective research, as well as the chance to live in Germany, travel, and test her language skills. She took German for four years in High School and took a gap year in Germany before college. Though she wasn’t able to study abroad during her undergrad, she always knew she wanted to go back.
After her year in Germany, she plans to come back to the states to pursue a graduate degree in Environmental Engineering.
“I really like what I do,” Stephanie says. “It’s is ethically responsible, sustainable and scientifically interesting.”
Michael Perlin will be working in Germany at Ulm University under the DAAD German Academic Exchange Scholarship.
“Science is really collaborative, so you can just send someone an email and tell them you want to work with them, especially when you come with your own funding,” Michael says. “I wanted to research abroad for a year and it will be fun to work in Germany for a year. I’m excited to be done with classes, for now, and do research full time.”
He will study a diamond quantum simulator developed by the Quantum Control Dynamics Group at the university. They have developed a platform in which you can control individual nuclear spins of carbon atoms in a diamond lattice using nitrogen vacancy centers.
“It’s a nice platform to potentially do quantum computing,” Michael says. “You can do the computing at room temperature and pressure, which is pretty rare.”
At OSU Michael has worked in Dr. David Roundy’s lab doing computational physics which should directly prepare him for his the theoretical work he will be doing in Germany. He also worked in the nuclear engineering department on nuclear fuel cycles, and in the college of pharmacy in pharmacogenomics. The past two summers, he interned with NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center. In 2013 he wrote simulations of electron transport and the next summer he developed data analysis routines and spacecraft subsystem models for the LISA pathfinder mission.
“I’ve had several research projects during my time both at OSU and elsewhere, but this in Germany is the first one that really hits home in a field I might actually want to work in,” Michael says. “It’s really exciting for me to meet the people that do the things that I want to do and try it out.”
By: Emma-Kate Schaake