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ISEN Welcomes 2018-19 Cluster Fellows

Julianne Beck | October 7, 2018
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Northwestern University graduate students representing diverse disciplines comprise the 2018-19 Cluster Fellowship of the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN). The group includes: Melissa Barona, Joseph Ni, Niloufar Sarvian, Travis Schmauss, and Samuel Wallace.

Left to Right: Samuel Wallace, Melissa Barona, Niloufar Sarvian, Joseph Ni. Not pictured: Travis Schmauss.

This is the eighth group of Cluster Fellows selected by ISEN since it began offering the yearly program in conjunction with The Graduate School’s Interdisciplinary Cluster Initiative. Participants are required to complete ISEN graduate coursework and to serve as a teaching assistant in ISEN undergraduate coursework. They are compensated with a stipend.

“ISEN, through its events and classes, brings together people and ideas from across this university and outside of it, exposing me to the whole team of players. This fellowship, which I am so thankful to have received, enriches my involvement in the energy community and helps prepare me for a lifetime working in energy, beyond the graduate student lab bench,” wrote Schmauss.

The fellows, who span involvement in a range of academic disciplines, expressed an interest in learning from one another. “Sustainability and climate change have long been an interest of mine, and I feel strongly about applying my skillset to understand the world’s climate change and sustainability problems. The interdisciplinary nature of ISEN also appeals to me because it allows me to interact with others outside of my immediate area of focus to find different ways to address our world’s problems,” wrote Sarvian.

The cluster fellows are preparing to serve as innovators in their fields. “I hope to work in the biotechnology industry, and provide biological solutions to improve the life cycle of existing chemical products. By opening up vast possibilities for the biosynthesis of chemicals, I hope to replace the need for many traditional chemical processes with renewable biological alternatives,” wrote Ni.

Participants are addressing issues that are broad in scope, and value the opportunity to build their skills to engage in collaborations to advance solutions. “The opportunity to conduct research seeking solutions to the major challenges facing our society is incredibly validating, and being a part of a community with similar interests and goals offers a reason for optimism moving forward,” wrote Wallace.

Looking ahead, the group is bringing ambition and personal sources of inspiration to the challenges ahead. “The opportunity that ISEN provides to interact with students, faculty, and industry leaders in the field of sustainability will be very valuable for achieving my career goals of working to develop more sustainable solutions to our world energy problems,” wrote Barona.