by Nicole Capozziello
Published March 2, 2021
Reconstructing neuronal networks in the brain and decreasing incidents of erosion using bio-cementation are just a few of the research topics that doctoral students from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences will be presenting at this year’s Three Minute Thesis Competition (3MT).
This year, six of the 12 finalists are from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, with three students from the Department of Materials Design and Innovation (MDI): Devyani Jivani, Olivia Licata and Behnoosh Sattari Baboukani.
“Devyani, Olivia and Behnoosh represent the essence of excellence of the MDI PhD training program. MDI is proud to see them on the TMT platform to showcase their extraordinary accomplishments,” says Krishna Rajan, SUNY Distinguished Professor, Erich Bloch Chair of the Department of Materials Design and Innovation, and SUNY Empire Innovation Professor.
Also representing SEAS are Saber Meamardoost and Shreya Mukherje, from the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Ronak Mehrabi, from the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering.
Since its beginnings at the University of Queensland in 2008, the 3MT competition has been challenging doctoral students around the world to succinctly and engagingly present their research in 180 seconds. With just one PowerPoint slide, finalists are judged on their ability to effectively convey the essence and importance of their research to a diverse audience of non-specialists. The competition is held at over 900 universities, in 85 countries, around the world.
This year’s UB judging panel includes Philip Odonkor, an alumnus from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, who won UB's Second Annual 3MT Competition. He is currently an assistant professor at the Stevens Institute of Technology.
The UB 3MT competition will take place Friday, March 5, 2020 at 3 p.m. via zoom. The event is co-hosted by the UB Graduate School and Blackstone LaunchPad powered by Techstars. Learn more about the competition here.
Deyvani Jivani, of the Department of Materials Design and Innovation, is originally from Vadodara, India. She will be presenting her thesis “Rethinking ‘Needle in a Haystack’ Approach in Materials Discovery,” in which she draws on computational tools to aid the acceleration in prediction of materials' properties based on their microstructure, advised by Olga Wodo. Her research goal to enable acceleration of materials design and discovery to address the need of environmentally conscious materials with high performance.
In her free time, Jivani likes to read, hike and play Pokémon Go. In the future she wants to work as a research scientist in the industry.
Olivia Licata, of the Department of Materials Design and Innovation, is from Lockport, New York. She will be presenting her thesis “Design from the Atom Up,” advised by Baishakhi Mazumder, in which she uses atom probe tomography for materials characterization and applies statistical methods for data analysis. The goal of this research is to provide insights that will help improve the design process for semiconductor components.
Licata enjoys many craft-related hobbies such as painting, knitting, scrapbooking and jewelry-making. Prior to the pandemic, she enjoyed bowling with friends, and attending concerts and musicals. After graduating, she would like to continue her work on materials for semiconductors at an innovative company.
Saber Meamardoost, of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, is from Bandar Lengeh, Iran. In his thesis “Building Your Connectome,” advised by Rudiyanto Gunawan, he develops computational algorithms to infer neuronal network from brain activity data. Meamardoost trains animals to learn a motor skill and records neuronal activity in the brain while they are learning. The goal of his research is to use brain activity data to reconstruct neuronal network in the brain, and then to understand the operational principles of neuroplasticity during learning.
Meamardoost is a member of the Society for Neuroscience and in his free time enjoys reading, playing soccer, watching movies and hiking. In the future, Meamardoost plans to continue his work on building a data-intensive brain-to-materials framework.
Shreya Mukherje, of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, is from Howrah, India. She will present "Driving Toward Cleaner Vehicles," and her advisor is Gang Wu. Her research is focused on looking at the state-of-the-art catalyst for conversion of ammonia into hydrogen in the refueling station to make it commercial. The goal is to reduce COx emissions in electric cars by reducing the use of conventional fossil fuels by using hydrogen instead. Mukherje is a member of the Society of Engineers.
In her free time, Mukherje enjoys singing, drawing and public speaking. In the future, Mukherje hopes to become a research engineer.
Ronak Mehrabi, of the Department of Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering, is from Tehran, Iran. She will present “Bio-Cementation of Soils,” which aims to advance this nature-inspired soil improvement technology through the development of predictive numerical models and laboratory-scale experiments. Her research goal is to contribute toward the sustainability and resiliency of geo-infrastructures through multidisciplinary research, and to work toward carbon dioxide emission free construction. Her thesis advisor is Kamelia Atefi-Monfared.
In her free time Mehrabi enjoys jogging. In the future, she plans to work in academia.
Behnoosh Sattari Baboukani, of the Department of Materials Design and Innovation, hails from Isfahan, Iran. In her thesis, “Slippery Flatlands,” advised by Prathima Nalam, she focuses on generating a fundamental understanding of tribological behavior of two-dimensional materials to enable them to be used as friction-reducing additives in oil-based lubrication. The goal of Sattari Baboukani’s research is to develop novel lubricants for engines using advanced material design approaches.
Her hobbies include playing chess, making puzzles, photography and baking. Following the completion of her PhD, she planned to stay in academia and continue her research as a faculty in the fields of surface science and engineering-materials science.