Vol. 18, No. 33May 27, 1999

Three doctoral candidates earn NSF fellowships

John Derek Peak

Jason Edward Bruggeman

Shana Paige Bunker

Three doctoral candidates, Jason Edward Bruggeman and Shana Paige Bunker, both chemical engineering, and John Derek Peak, plant and soil sciences, have received National Science Foundation graduate fellowships for three years. They are among the 900 fellows selected from 4,796 applicants.

Jason Edward Bruggeman

Bruggeman's research, supervised by faculty member Henry C. Foley, chemical engineering, involves the reactions of nanoporous carbon catalysts. Currently, he is using a carbon catalyst, implanted with cesium, to produce various types of hydrocarbons such as ethylene, the precursor for many polymers.

The Chaska, Minn., native earned his bachelor's degree in chemical engineering from the University of Minnesota.

Shana Paige Bunker

Bunker is working in with faculty member Richard Wool in the ACRES (Affordable Composites from Renewable Resources) program, Department of Chemical Engineering.

Her goal is to develop pressure-sensitive adhesives, such as those used on Post-It notes and transparent tape, based on soybean oil, rather than petroleum-based substances.

After receiving her undergraduate degree from Clemson University, Bunker arrived at UD in September 1998. In the near future, Bunker said she hopes to help teach a course with a UD faculty member, to better prepare herself for a career in academia.

John Derek Peak

A graduate student in soil science, Peak is working with Donald Sparks, Distinguished Professor of Soil Science.

"This is a highly competitive fellowship, and one of the top honors for a graduate student," said Sparks, whose students also include Darryl Roberts, a 1998 recipient of the NSF graduate fellowship.

Peak, a 1997 graduate of Louisiana State University, is involved in fundamental research that has environmental and agricultural impact.

"My research involves studying the rates of reaction and molecular processes of anions in the soil in real time, using spectroscopy," Peak said.

The end result of his research will enable scientists to learn how anions move and enter the water supply and to predict toxicity in soil and remediate it if necessary. For example, borate, selinite and selinate can reach toxic levels in soils and be damaging to plants and animals.

This summer, he and Sparks will travel to Vienna to present a paper to the International Conference of the Biogeochemistry of Trace Elements.

UD senior earns NSF fellowship

UD senior Sujata Kumari Bhatia, who has simultaneously pursued three different undergraduate degrees-in chemical engineering, biochemistry and biotechnology-and her master's degree in chemical engineering, has been awarded a NSF graduate fellowship to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Her research is in protein folding, a field which has implications in the medical, biotechnology and chemical manufacturing industries.