The College of Sciences congratulates six of its graduate scholars who have won Herbert P. Haley Fellowships for the 2023-24 school year.
The new Haley Fellows are:
- Jessica Deutsch, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry
- Quynh Nguyen, School of Chemistry and Biochemistry
- Eliza Gazda, School of Physics
- Sydney Popsuj, School of Biological Sciences
- Jose Luis Ramirez-Colón, School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences
- Sidney Scott-Sharoni, School of Psychology
Haley scholars receive a one-time merit award of up to $4,000 thanks to the generosity of the late Marion Peacock Haley. Haley’s estate established the creation of merit-based graduate fellowships at Georgia Tech in honor of her late husband, Herbert P. Haley (ME 1933). It is an award which may be held in conjunction with other funding, assistantships, or fellowships, if applicable.
Meet the Haley Fellows
Jessica Deutsch is a fifth-year Ph.D. student studying analytical chemistry. “One of the most intriguing aspects of analytical chemistry is that the field focuses on studying invisible things in order to make sense of the visible,” Deuthsch says. “I am researching a deadly coral disease that affects Florida and Caribbean reefs. I aim to provide insight into how this disease impacts the production of small molecules using a mass spectrometry-based approach, which can provide insight into how relationships between the coral animal, algae, and bacteria may be impacted by this disease.”
She wishes to thank Assistant Professor Neha Garg “for her mentorship and the opportunities she has provided that have enabled me to develop my research skills.”
Quynh Nguyen is a third-year Ph.D. student looking into phase- and shape-controlled synthesis of nanocrystals for catalysis and energy-related applications. “What fascinates me is the ability to manipulate matter at the nanoscale to drive sustainable advances,” Nguyen says. “This field places me at the exciting intersection of chemistry, materials science, and nanotechnology, aiming to address current challenges in sustainability and renewable energy.”
Nguyen’s Ph.D. advisor is Younan Xia, professor, Brock Family Chair and Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Nanomedicine. “Xia's guidance and expertise have been instrumental in shaping my research focus and methodology. Beyond the lab, he has consistently encouraged me to pursue opportunities that contribute to both my academic and professional development, for which I am immensely grateful.”
Eliza Gazda, a fifth-year graduate scholar, is working in the field of multi-messenger particle astrophysics.
Gazda designed, tested, and integrated a telescope camera which was the payload on a scientific balloon launched in May. “The telescope launched is the first optical balloon of this type that operated at high altitudes over 30 kilometers,” Gazda says. “Our telescope observed radiative air showers from high energy cosmic rays and particles which travel across the Earth from extreme astrophysical objects like neutron stars and black holes. Once analyzed, this work will give us insight into high energy events that occur in space, and allow us to design and launch future similar telescopes.”
Gazda’s mentor is Associate Professor Nepomuk Otte, “who guided me in the past through a summer internship at Georgia Tech and inspired me to come back to work on my Ph.D. here. Not only has he taught me lab skills, but he helps me with my career goals, and guides me in exploring our research field, networking, and learning about various disciplines within the field.”
A fifth-year Ph.D. student, Sydney Popsuj is researching the gene Dkk3 and how it might regulate neurodevelopment and neurodegeneration in tunicates, close siblings to vertebrates. “This gene is implicated in Alzheimer's disease and dementia, but because it is hard to study in disease models, we don't have a strong grasp on the general functionality of the gene. I am using tunicates as a model system to study because they are biphasic, meaning they have both a larval and adult stage. This work is very exciting to me because it incorporates large scale evolutionary questions, while also having an impact on better understanding a gene that seems quite important to diseases and disorders.”
Popsuj thanks Georgia Tech faculty members Shuyi Nie, Joe LaChance, Patrick McGrath, Tim Cope, and Billie Swalla at the University of Washington “for pushing me to find new and exciting avenues into how to relate and generalize my work. These mentors have also encouraged me to expand outside my comfort zone in academics and to embrace new technologies and approaches that will hopefully further expand methods and protocols available to tunicate researchers.”
Jose Luis Ramirez-Colón
A third-year graduate scholar, Jose Luis Ramirez-Colón “has always been fascinated by the question of where we come from, and my time at Georgia Tech has been dedicated to using science as a tool to further explore this question.” His research focuses on exploring the organic inventory present in carbonaceous chondrites, meteorites that are like time capsules from the early days of the Solar System.
“Many organic classes present in all life as we know it, such as amino acids, sugars, and nucleobases, have been detected in these meteorites; therefore, there’s this idea that these meteorites might've delivered these essential building blocks to early Earth to kick-start life as we know it,” Ramirez-Colón says. His mission at Georgia Tech is to develop methods to detect, extract, and characterize those building blocks.
Ramirez-Colón wants to acknowledge “the remarkable contributions of my advisor and mentor, Christopher Carr, who has played a pivotal role in propelling my journey as an advancing Puerto Rican scientist. Carr not only granted me the freedom to pursue the questions that have always ignited my passion for science, but also equipped me with the essential tools and resources needed to conduct meaningful research.”
Sidney Scott-Sharoni is entering her fourth year of Ph.D. studies. An engineering psychology major, Scott-Sharoni focuses on “understanding how humans interact and conceptualize artificial intelligence devices,” she explains.
“Specifically, I investigate creative methods to convey information to calibrate users’ trust, and understand their psychological well-being, most often in automated vehicles,” Scott-Sharoni says. “I love my area of research because it combines the study of people with the study of innovative technology. I feel like I am researching the people of the future!”
Scott-Sharoni’s advisor, Professor Bruce Walker, “has significantly helped my personal and professional development as a researcher. I am very grateful for his continued mentorship throughout my graduate education.”