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Coveted NSF fellowship: Chemical engineering grad student to study in Singapore

UDaily, Written By: Katie Galgano, March 14, 2011

Melissa St. Amand, a third-year doctoral candidate in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Delaware, has been selected as a 2011 National Science Foundation East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes (EAPSI) fellow.

She will travel to the National University of Singapore this summer to learn methods to characterize protein glycosylation as part of her thesis research, which looks at improving the quality control strategies in the biopharmaceutical industry.

Currently, quality assurance in this industry is done offline and innovations toward an online quality control would improve product quality and safety, and reduce production costs.

“The EAPSI program is an ultra-competitive NSF fellowship. Melissa will be working with a group that is arguably the strongest in the world in characterizing protein glycosylation,” says Babatunde A. Ogunnaike, deputy dean of UD's College of Engineering and William L. Friend Chaired Professor of Chemical Engineering. Only 15 students nation-wide and across all scientific disciplines are selected for the Singapore program.

St. Amand is co-advised by Ogunnaike and Anne S. Robinson, professor of chemical engineering.

“I am the first generation in my extended family to go to college, so to be given an opportunity like this is truly a dream come true. This invaluable experience will expand my experimental capabilities through access to state-of-the-art technology and intellectual discussions with those working on research problems similar to my own,” St. Amand says.

The primary goals of EAPSI are to introduce U.S. students to East Asia and Pacific science and engineering in a research setting and to help students initiate scientific relationships that will enhance future collaborations with their foreign counterparts. The program provides students research experiences, an introduction to the scientific policy and infrastructure of a foreign location and an orientation to the society, culture and language of that location.

The EAPSI program for U.S. students is administered by the NSF Office of International Science and Engineering (OISE). The eight-week Singapore research experience is co-sponsored by the National Research Foundation and the National University of Singapore.

St. Amand earned dual bachelor's degrees of science in chemical engineering and biochemistry at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst in 2007 and worked as a process engineer at Genzyme before joining UD. This fellowship opportunity will help her to reach her ultimate career goal of becoming a professor at a research-intensive institution.