Day: May 13, 2024

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2024 Recipient – Abdelrahman Ismail

Abdelrahman Ismail in formal clothing, standing in a field with trees in background
Abdelrahman Ismail – Chemistry

It’s hard to fathom how the start of my chemistry journey was a full decade ago when I was in high school. Back then, I had no idea this path would take me where I am today. Time seems to have flown by when I look to the past, but it slows down to a snail’s pace when I look towards the future, and with that long, bountiful future ahead of me, it makes my journey all the more worth it.

I graduated with a BS in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse in spring 2019 and started my PhD here in Michigan Tech in the fall of the same year. My research is about understanding the substrate preferences of cellular sugar transporters, which would enable selective drug targeting of those transporters and allow for new treatments and diagnostic tools for many diseases including cancers. This work involved synthetic organic synthesis of novel compounds, analytical purification and characterization of those compounds, in-vitro pharmacological studies of those compounds on live cancer cells, and computational chemistry studies of the transporter-compound interactions. This monumental project required in-depth expertise in all of those different domains of chemistry, and despite initially thinking of myself as a pure organic chemist, taking on this challenge helped me grow into a well-rounded interdisciplinary scientist, and that is my biggest and most important prize out of my time in Tech.

My heartfelt thanks to the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel and Dean for the high honor and privilege of this award. Special thanks to Dr. Athar Ata, the chemistry department chair, for his generous support and excellent leadership. But most of all, I want to thank Dr. Marina Tanasova, my PhD advisor and graduate program director, for everything she’s done for me. She gave me and my colleagues in our research group all the freedom, independence, and room for growth that we need to flourish, and yet she was always there for us and guided us onto the path to success. She always believed in us, pushed us to question our limits, think critically, and deliver impactful and groundbreaking science. After mingling with my peers in the industry and hearing about their advisors, it further reinforced my thankfulness. It was a pleasure being part of her research group.

Doctoral Finishing Fellowship – Summer 2024 Recipient – Sam Groetsch

Samuel Groetsch standing in front of a wall, indoors
Sam Groetsch – Physics

Ever since my freshman year of high school when another older student approached me to join a physics club sponsored by Fermilab which focused on cosmic ray air showers, I’ve been fond of both the theoretical and experimental side of physics. It is quite the coincidence, or perhaps the exact opposite, that my research now focuses on detecting some of the highest energy gamma-ray air showers with HAWC.

After attending a very large high school in a suburb of Chicago, I decided to apply to Tech after a family friend recommended the school and I immediately enjoyed the smaller and closer-knit feel of Tech. I did both my undergraduate (B.S. in Physics and B.S. in Computational Math) and my graduate studies at Tech and the end of my academic journey with Tech is a very bittersweet moment for me. My Ph.D. thesis is mostly focused on using gamma-rays detected by HAWC over nearly a decade to create a catalog of some of the most extreme galactic particle accelerators like supernova remnants, pulsars, and micro-quasars. Catalogs historically have provided useful information to both theorists and other experiments to help guide and accelerate research in and beyond the field of astrophysics. To help create this catalog and assist future analysis work in the HAWC collaboration I developed a software framework to automate source finding in the HAWC dataset.

I want to thank many different organizations and people who have helped me throughout my university journey. First, the Graduate Dean Awards Advisory Panel for providing their wonderful support to help me finish strong. Second, my advisor Prof. Huentemeyer along with our research group for the invaluable support they’ve provided to me during my Ph.D. studies. Third, the physics department as a whole because without their support both personally and fiscally throughout both my undergrad and grad experience I would not have made it to where I am today.