Materials science celebrates alumni, students at annual banquet


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MatSE undergraduate and graduate students share the stage for a group picture after receiving awards at the 2024 Spring Awards Banquet, held on April 18, 2024 at the Illini Union Ballroom. 
MatSE undergraduate and graduate students share the stage for a group picture after receiving awards at the 2024 Spring Awards Banquet, held on April 18, 2024 at the Illini Union Ballroom. 

MatSE alumni and students work hard every day to unravel the mysteries of materials.

Whether out in the real world innovating in professional settings or working to create new materials in campus labs, they deserve recognition for their efforts to change the world. We celebrated their accomplishments at the annual Spring Awards Banquet, held on April 18 in the Illini Union Ballroom. 

Distinguished presenters at the banquet included Department Head and Swanlund Endowed Chair Nancy Sottos; Associate Professor Chris Evans; Associate Professor and Ivan Racheff Faculty Scholar Cecilia Leal; Senior Lecturer and Chief Undergraduate Advisor Laura Nagel; and Acting Associate Department Head Charles Schroeder. 

Join us in acknowledging the contributions of our people below.

Mark Morse is pictured with MatSE alumna Zeba Parkar after receiving his Distinguished Merit Alumni Award. Morse, a 1977 University of Illinois graduate, boasts a decorated career involving decades of leadership and innovation in his work with materials. 
Mark Morse is pictured with MatSE alumna Zeba Parkar after receiving his Distinguished Merit Alumni Award. Morse, a 1977 graduate, boasts a decorated career involving decades of leadership and innovation in his work with materials. 

Alumni Awards

Distinguished Merit Alumni Award: Mark Morse 

Mark Morse, a 1977 graduate with a BS in ceramic engineering, has quite the decorated resume. He earned the President’s Award for his work on electronic ceramic substrates while employed at GE Ceramics Inc. in South Carolina. Then, in a 30-year tenure at SELEE Corporation in North Carolina, Morse oversaw an expansion that helped the company reach more than $50 million in revenues. 

Morse retired from SELEE in July 2018 and was named chief operating officer at CFOAM LLC, a company that converts coal into carbon foam products for aerospace tooling and other markets. He left the role in 2019 and remained a board member until CONSOL Energy bought CFOAM In 2021. 

Retirement just doesn’t seem to stick for Morse, who is currently the Vice President of Operations for Palmer Wahl Instruments Inc. He lives in Laurel Park, N.C., with his wife, Sherry, and enjoys fly fishing and travel, among other pursuits. He has a passion for community involvement, which shows in his time leading several local nonprofits. 

Loyalty Award: Nick Mencinger

Nick Mencinger, who graduated in 1980 with a BS degree in ceramic engineering, has a storied career working for Intel Corporation. He played a key role in developing new process technologies and materials sets, which were implemented into high-volume manufacturing. 

When Intel moved the entire organization to Chandler, Ariz., in the mid-1980s, the scope of the work grew. Mencinger moved into a quality and reliability engineering role. He managed teams to test new technologies and later directed a multifunctional global quality and reliability engineering group. Mencinger retired in 2010 and still lives in Arizona. 

Young Alumni Award: Canan Dagdeviren

Canan Dagdeviren earned her PhD in materials science and engineering in 2014. Her research focused on exploring patterning techniques and creating piezoelectric biomedical systems. She then became a Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows at Harvard University, where she conducted postdoctoral research focused on developing minimally invasive brain probes.

Dagdeviren’s work earned her major recognition from media outlets, including being named among the “Top 35 Innovators Under 35” by MIT Technology Review in 2015 and earning a "Top 30 Under 30 In Science” honor from Forbes. Currently, she is the LG Career Development Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT Media Lab, leading the Conformable Decoders research group. 

Undergraduate Student Awards

  • Alfred W. Allen Award: Daniel Cudzich, Kira Martin and Colin Shan
  • Russell Bolton Research Development Award: Noha Azizalrahman and Thomas Southey 
  • Dow Undergraduate Award for Outstanding Achievements in DEI: Celeste Izaguirre 
  • M. Laird and Charisann Froberg Award: Alice Gao
  • MatSE Alumni Board Award: Kira Martin 
  • Sheryl Blair Tipton Award: Kayla Huang

Undergraduate Student Scholarships

  •  A. I. Andrews Scholars: Xipin Chen, Christian Papachristodoulou and Edric Wang 
  • Paul A. Beck Scholar: Warren Wellington 
  • Harry J. Beckemeyer Jr. Memorial Scholars: Rachel Han, Nikolas Hartke and Seungju Kim 
  • Clifton G. Bergeron Scholars: Colin MacLeod, Yunhang Tao, Yuche Tian, Chun-Chia Tsai and Jasmine Woo 
  • Louis R. Berner Scholars: Savannah Scheffel and Jordyn Watanabe 
  • Gerson B. Bilow Scholars: Jackson Cole, Yongmin Kim and Edward Lukhanin
  • Bob Bohl Scholars: Shivansh Agarwal, Ethan Chen, Ethan Curran, Niharika Devaraju, Krystal Hernandez, Andrew Lum, Mythri Subash, Jessica Sun, Ray Tsai and Ryan Yao 
  • Capek Scholar: Mia Mikolajczak  
  • Earl J. Eckel Scholars: Shehzad Bajowala, Adem Gundogdu, Kaila Kuo, Nick Kwentus and Adi Taire 
  • MatSE Engineering Visionary Scholars: Hrishita Baheti, Rory Carty, Jac Copeland, Ravyn Edran, Elena Granzeier, Allison Lau, Lucy List, Joshua Miao, Nick O'Reilly, Nicole Poppe, Natalija Velisavljevic, Mitchell Wetherill and Ryan Yang 
  • Arthur L. Friedberg Scholars: Joan Daye, Ju Hyung Lee, Kevin Scanlan and Sanya Shah 
  • Friends of MatSE Scholars: River Chen, Cathy Chen, Ryan Choi, Hee Hwang, Isaiah Kim, Dylan Lim, Justin Macatangay, Cody Park and Wolfgang Trier 
  • M. Laird and Charisann Froberg Scholars: Isha Bordawekar and Shrikar Chennuru
  •  Phil Geil Scholars: Anthony Hyatt and Tommy Miller 
  • Henry E. Grein Jr. Scholar: Andrew He 
  • Kaiser Aluminum Scholars: Mike Costa, Jay Kwon, Daniel Matatov, Sahana Prabhu, Elliott Topp, Michael Xu and Zihao Xu
  • Doris Maroney Krumwiede Scholars: Kylie Broderick, Meera Karthi and Elise Tejeda 
  • Robert E. and Karen Martin Luetje Scholars: Ashley Li 
  • Kevin Moore Memorial Scholarship: Hermella Tewodros 
  • G. Ronald and Margaret H. Morris Scholars: Jacob Schneiderman and Yiran Zhao 
  • G. Ronald and Margaret H. Morris Opportunity Scholars: Sarah Saeed and Suhas Vatsavai 
  • Jim Nelson Scholars: Saleem Awan, Andrew Chieng, Joseph Kallal, Maxwell Li, Vithuran Rathakrishnan, Hazel Seo and Jiya Shekhar 
  • Professor Cullen W. Parmelee Scholars: Spencer Biziorek, Jacob Chisholm, Peter Christopherson, Cameron Cote, Scott Dastrup, Hayden Gantt and Gavin Rabe 
  • Professor Cullen W. Parmelee International Scholar: Laura Klusendorf
  • David A. Payne Scholars: Nathan Spohnholtz and Raymond Wang 
  • Frederick A. Petersen Scholars: Owen-Matthew Snyder and Gary Zhang
  • Norman L. Peterson Memorial Scholars: Cristian Herard and Emma Udovich
  • Larry D. and Carol Rakers Scholars: Fatimah Alhawaj, Alice Gao, Cesar Gaona, Sara Kashyap, Hannah Liu, Genevieve Sciortino, Mckella Susralski and Eloise Zhou 
  • Ian and Victoria Robertson Scholars: Ryan Bushell, Effie Gong, Chanju Park and Arvin Sharma 
  • C. M. Wayman Memorial Scholar: Elizabeth Quansah
  • Lucille and Charles Wert Scholars: Brisa Baldwin, Ryan Barnicle, Justin Hung, David Kim, Georgia McKelvain, Regina Raemsch, Jakob Stavehaug and Brendan Wadin  

Graduate Student Awards and Fellowships 

  • 3M Graduate Award for Outstanding Achievements in DEI: Varun Gopalakrishna and Sara Wonner 
  • Chakrapani Annual Innovation Award for Outstanding Ph.D. Thesis: Lining Zheng 
  • Conference Presentation (Travel) Award: Aravind Baby, Yang Dan, Alexander Deptula, Chen Chen, Kai Lan, Grace Lu, Jackson Nie, Fujia Zhao and Lining Zheng 
  • Mavis Future Faculty Fellows: Fufei An, Nurila Kambar and Tyler Price 
  • M.S. Travel Award: Yunpei Duan
  • Outstanding T.A. Award: Qian Ai and Yu-Shuan Tsao
  • Racheff Teaching Fellows:  Qian Ai, Justin Bae, Christopher Bean, Allison Brandvold, Yujun Feng, Kenyi Choy Hernandez, Hongye Sun, Sara Wonner, Kaijun Yin, Wenxin Zhang, Jie Zhao and Ziqi Zhao 

Congratulations to the MatSE alumni, faculty, and undergraduate and graduate student award-winners on your achievements. We are thrilled for everything you have already achieved and the impact you will continue to make in the future.

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This story was published May 7, 2024.