Creating a culture of discovery
10 innovators to watch
INNOVATOR: Ermir Bejo, doctoral student
ADMIRES: Too many people to name one.
INNOVATION: Musical composition. Bejo composed Opus 4 for solo piano, earning the prestigious ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer award.
WHAT’S NEXT: Apply for a postdoctoral program and teach.
INNOVATOR: Erica Doty, senior
FIELD: Mechanical engineering
ADMIRES: Mom, who taught her a great work ethic.
INNOVATION: Motorcycle parts. As an intern at the Harley-Davidson headquarters, Doty helped design parts with an eye for function and style.
WHAT’S NEXT: Work in the airspace industry on military aircraft, rockets and missiles.
INNOVATOR: Megan Fitch, master’s student
FIELD: Biological sciences
ADMIRES: Amie Lund, assistant professor of biological sciences, an academic visionary who played an integral part in her project.
INNOVATION: Air pollution and health. In her thesis, Fitch finds compelling evidence to suggest that wood smoke and vehicle exhaust affect intestinal bacteria and overall health.
WHAT’S NEXT: Pursue a Ph.D. at Trinity College in Ireland or go directly into her field work in environmental science.
INNOVATOR: Prateek Kalakuntla, second-year TAMS student
ADMIRES: Other finalists in the Siemens Math, Science and Technology competition.
INNOVATION: Sensing mercury. Kalakuntla developed methods for sensing and removing mercury and other toxic heavy metals from water.
WHAT’S NEXT: Conduct biomedical research and has applied to several schools such as Stanford to do so.
INNOVATOR: Jennifer Horner Miller, doctoral student
FIELD: Learning technologies
ADMIRES: Leaders and scholars who encourage originality, creativity, cooperation, hard work and determination.
INNOVATION: Social media connections. Miller led multiple NASA Makerspace and social media events around the nation and is interested in connecting K-12 educators and students across the nation via social media platforms.
WHAT’S NEXT: Continue research exploring Makerspace activities and the perceptions of integrating technologies with science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics.
SECURING CYBER SPACE
INNOVATOR: Obi Ogbanufe, doctoral student
FIELD: Information technology and decision sciences
ADMIRES: Dan Kim, professor of information technology and decision sciences, who challenges her to be a better researcher.
INNOVATION: Security risk management and information assurance. Ogbanufe is researching tools to help manage the risks online.
WHAT’S NEXT: Continue research work and teach.
INNOVATOR: Jonathan Roosa, junior
FIELD: Computer science
ADMIRES: Mark Thompson, lecturer of computer science and engineering.
INNOVATION: Web application. Living out a dream to help advance space exploration, Roosa developed an application to help NASA track maintenance and operations projects for the International Space Station.
WHAT’S NEXT: Work for NASA.
PLAYWRITE IN PRAGUE
INNOVATOR: Jacob Sampson, senior
FIELD: Radio, television and film
ADMIRES: Andrew B. Harris, professor of theater, has given him a lot of attention to his work, as well as motivation.
INNOVATION: Play writing. Sampson presented his play, The Essay, to theater faculty half-way around the world during a two-week residency at the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague, Czech Republic.
WHAT’S NEXT: Continue writing for theater and eventually pursue writing for television and movies.
INNOVATOR: Nydia Sánchez, doctoral student
FIELD: Higher education
ADMIRE: Mother, because she helped all five children go to college, despite never having gone to college herself.
INNOVATION: Cultivating a “college-going culture.” By studying the Gates Millenium Scholars Program along the U.S.-Mexico border, Sánchez is documenting how students, families and educators can work together to encourage higher education.
WHAT’S NEXT: Begin a post-doctoral research fellowship with the goal of becoming a faculty member.
FREE PEER TUTORING
INNOVATOR: Jack Zhang, second-year TAMS student
FIELD: Application development
ADMIRES: Dad, because he’s really wise and always knows how to fix problems.
INNOVATION: Student success. In creating Skybound Prep, Zhang has provided access to quality and affordable SAT tutoring.
WHAT’S NEXT: Continue studies in computer science and business administration at the University of California, Berkley.