Students receive STEM awards

Joshua Kubiak (left) and Jillian Jaycox (right) received Goldwater Scholarships to study in their respective fields. (credit: Joshua Kubiak) Joshua Kubiak (left) and Jillian Jaycox (right) received Goldwater Scholarships to study in their respective fields. (credit: Joshua Kubiak)

Recently, Congress has awarded two Carnegie Mellon undergraduate students, Joshua Kubiak and Jillian Jaycox, with prestigious Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships. Congress established the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Program in 1986 to provide college students support in pursuing a research career in science, mathematics, and engineering.

Kubiak is a junior materials science and engineering and chemistry double major. He is also a research assistant in the lab of Michael Bockstaller, a materials science and engineering professor at Carnegie Mellon, investigating improved methods for creating quantum dot backlights for LCD screens. On campus, Kubiak is a member of Engineers Without Borders, the Carnegie Mellon racing team, and is president-elect of Chem-E Car.

“I am honored to receive the award and thankful for the research opportunities that CMU made available to me starting in my first semester of college,” Kubiak said. “I am also very excited to continue research as a senior and eventually as a graduate student in materials science and engineering.”

Kubiak intends to complete a Ph.D. in material science engineering and “investigate novel polymeric materials for alternative energy generation and teach as a university professor.”

Jaycox is a junior biological sciences major. She conducts research with Sarah Gaffen, an immunology professor at the University of Pittsburgh who studies the immune response to bloodstream fungal infections. Jaycox also designs DNA nanoparticles made of backbone-branched DNA with Subha R. Das, an associate professor of chemistry at Carnegie Mellon.

Jaycox runs with the university’s cross-country and track teams and works as co-president of The Triple Helix, a student journal which publishes about science, society, and law.

“I am excited to win the Goldwater Scholarship,” Jaycox said. “This award is a reflection of the mentorship and opportunities provided to me by both Carnegie Mellon and [the] University of Pittsburgh, and it is a promising steppingstone toward my goal of becoming a physician-scientist.”

She hopes to obtain an M.D./Ph.D. in immunology and to “conduct research on autoimmune disease or infectious disease and practice medicine in an academic setting.”

“With this career, I ultimately hope to improve the biomedical understanding of immunological diseases in order to improve the lives of patients suffering from these disorders,” Jaycox said.

Kubiak and Jaycox join the 260 college sophomores and juniors chosen for the scholarship out of more than 1,200 nominations for 2015. Kubiak and Jaycox will also join a group of 20 other Carnegie Mellon students who have previously been awarded this scholarship.