As a chemical engineering major at UK, Jenna Shapiro, class of 2011, knows first-hand the number of research experiences available to undergraduate students. Part of Dr. Kim Anderson’s research group in the Cellular Bioengineering Laboratory, Shapiro has helped research cancer-detecting biosensors and other compounds and structures that can interact with the human body for medical purposes.
“UK has all the opportunities of a large university and all of the familiarity of a small school,” she says. “The College of Engineering has provided me with a challenging curriculum, opportunities for undergraduate research, chances to present at professional meetings and a close-knit group of faculty and students.”
The challenging curriculum has paid off. In 2010 Shapiro was named a Goldwater Scholar, with a prestigious scholarship worth approximately $7,500 per year for up to two years of undergraduate study. “I credit my academic success to the dedication of my mentors and graduate students who encouraged me to pursue independent research,” she says.
Shapiro was one of 278 students nationwide awarded the scholarship, selected from among 1,111 mathematics, science and engineering students nationwide. She has also been accepted into Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) programs at MIT in the summer of 2010 and UK in the summer of 2009. Both REU programs covered ways engineering interacts with biological systems.
“Not only have I had an exceptional educational experience, but I have also been able to network with both peers and professionals,” Shapiro says. She’s involved with several campus organizations, serving as a committee chair for the UK Chapter of the Society of Women Engineers and is a member of Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society and the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. She plans to pursue a doctoral degree in chemical engineering, focusing on biomedical applications. She would eventually like to conduct research to develop cancer treatments and teach at a research-intensive university.
“The campus is beautiful, the laboratories are well equipped, and the people are friendly and willing to help,” Shapiro says. “Professors are genuinely concerned about their students’ success and always provide excellent guidance.”