News 2023: Inaugural outstanding student research award recipients announced

News 2023: Inaugural outstanding student research award recipients announced
Inaugural outstanding student research award recipients announced

Undergraduate student Mckenzie Ferrari and graduate students Benjoe Rey Visayas and Yasmin Zandomenico Vasconcelos all received awards

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Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Ramprasad Balasubramanian is pleased to announce the recipients of the inaugural student research and scholarship awards. Mckenzie Ferrari was the recipient of the award for outstanding research by an undergraduate student for her work on supernova astrophysics with Dr. Fisher (Physics). Benjoe Rey Visayas received the award for research by a graduate student for his work with Dr. Maricris Mayes (Chemistry and Biochemistry) on an integrated computational framework for the development of redox flow battery active materials. Yasmin Zandomenico Vasconcelos received the award for scholarly work by a graduate student for her studies of the literary and cultural history of lesbianism in Brazil with Dr. Anna Klobucka (Portuguese).

Ms. Ferrari is already a published co-author and was recently named a Barry Goldwater Scholar, a first by a UMass Dartmouth student. Her nominator, Dr. Robert Fisher (Physics) summed up Ms. Ferrari’s work, “Ms. Ferrari has continuously impressed me with her combination of highly-developed analytical and computational skills and independent drive and has developed a broad graduate student-level expertise in supernova astrophysics — ranging from hydrodynamical simulations through spectroscopy. Already she has participated in the Center for Astrophysics Harvard & Smithsonian summer research program, among the most competitive astrophysics programs for undergraduates in the US.”

Mr. Visayas is a highly motivated Ph.D. candidate in Chemistry and Biochemistry. His first-authored paper on "Computational and Experimental Investigation of the Effect of Cation Structure on the Solubility of Anionic Flow Battery Active-Materials" was selected to be part of the 2021 Chemical Science HOT Article and Editor's Choice collections, highlighting its originality, quality, and impact. In 2022, Mr. Visayas received the American Institute of Chemists Award for Outstanding Ph.D. Student. Although he has yet to defend his dissertation, he has already been offered a Scientist position at the National Institutes of Health. His nominator, Dr. Maricris Mayes (Chemistry and Biochemistry) says this of Mr. Visayas, “ Benjoe has demonstrated exceptional breadth and depth on quantum chemistry, atomistic simulation, and machine learning. He has shown exceptional initiative and key insights, consistently contributing intellectually to research design, carrying out the work, research discussions, and writing manuscripts. He has been instrumental to the success of these projects leading to funded grants. Benjoe's work, so far, has led to five publications in high-impact journals.”

Ms. Zandomenico’s research has received rave reviews at conferences where she has presented, and her peer-reviewed publications, although recent, are getting citations in high profile scholarship. Her nominator, Dr. Anna Klobucka (Portuguese) notes that Ms. Zandomenico’s publications “…have all been cutting-edge in their approach and analytic value. They range quite widely in their topics, from innovative critical readings of the masterpiece of Brazilian 20th-century literature, Grande sertão: veredas, to the first work of academic scholarship on the brilliant trans-Black artist Castiel Vitorino Brasileiro, to likewise groundbreaking studies of nonbinary language in the Portuguese-language classroom.”