Ramya Gurunathan, an Indian American student studying materials science and engineering/nanotechnology at Penn State University, was among 15 American university students who were recently named 2016-2017 Churchill Scholars.
The Churchill Scholarship provides funding to American students for a year of master’s study in science, mathematics, and engineering at the University of Cambridge, based at Churchill College.
The scholarship was set up at the request of Sir Winston Churchill in order to fulfill his vision of U.S.-UK scientific exchange with the goal of advancing science and technology on both sides of the Atlantic, helping to ensure our future prosperity and security.
In a summer internship in Japan, Gurunathan designed computer models to study a material used in electric vehicles, and at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, she developed a robot into a tool for the high-throughput discovery of nanoparticles.
Gurunathan, a senior at Penn State, has also spent time at Leiden University in the Netherlands in the Superconducting and Ferromagnetic Materials Group. These experiences inspired her to study scientific computing at Cambridge.
Her proposed work in Cambridge is on “high-throughput computational determination of multi-component phase diagrams,” which can be incomprehensible for non-scientists, according to a press release. She has dedicated herself to the dissemination of complex scientific ideas.
While acting as the director of Local Projects for Penn State’s Engineers Without Borders, Gurunathan hosted monthly science workshops for school children at the Discovery Space Museum. She is especially proud of a tour she organized with her graduate student mentor of the Nanofabrication and Materials Characterization facility, where she inspired fourth graders to dream of a career in engineering.
Gurunathan also enjoys mentoring other students, and she worked as a teaching assistant for a materials design course, where most of the students were her classmates. There she helped the students design research proposals that were then submitted to a board of alumni industry leaders.
Gurunathan is a member of Penn State’s highly competitive Presidential Leadership Academy, where she helped draft a proposal for curriculum reform.