NAE Grand Challenge Scholar Profiles

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) released a list of 14 "Grand Challenges for Engineering" that must be addressed in order to achieve a sustainable, economically robust, and politically stable future for our children and our children's children.

The Duke NAE Grand Challenge Scholars Program educates engineering undergraduates to have the technical expertise, breadth of knowledge, and social, ethical, and environmental awareness to successfully pursue leadership positions in addressing the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering. Meet some of Duke's Grand Challenge Scholars and learn how their experiences are shaping their views of engineering and themselves.

NAE Grand Challenge Scholar Profiles

Kendall Covington: Engineering Better Medicines
My research centers around the theme of "Engineering Better Medicines,” and combines engineering and global health to improve the health care of women in low-resource settings. I have traveled to Nicaragua to repair medical equipment and am working in the Global Women's Health Technology (GWHT) Center on a project.

Mona Dai: Treating Contaminated Drinking Water in Uganda
As part of the NAE Grand Challenge Scholars Program, I am focusing on the challenge of providing clean drinking water access to all. My research project focuses specifically on the impact of using ceramic water filters (CWF) to treat contaminated drinking water in Uganda. Ceramic water filters are point-of-use water treatment systems that, while efficient, simple and economic, are quite slow. My goal last semester was to design a new CWF type with a faster flow rate.

Isa Ferrall: Making Solar Energy Economical
I have used the amazing opportunity of being a National Academy of Engineering Grand Challenge Scholar to immerse myself in the clean/renewable/sustainable energy field and have pursued research to push the field even farther forward.

Lucas Johnston: Preventing Injuries through Orthopaedic Biomechanics
As a member of the Grand Challenge Scholars Program, I am integrating all of my experience in technical research, interdisciplinary learning, service, entrepreneurship and global perspectives to expand my knowledge and focus my capabilities to help solve the Grand Challenge of Engineering Better Medicines and Medical Technology.

Kevin Nikolaus: Scanning the Environment with Unmanned Aerial Systems
My Grand Challenge Scholar research centers on the challenge of engineering the tools of scientific discovery. Although it is one of the less mentioned of the fourteen NAE grand challenges, I believe that it holds a crucial role in designing a better future.

Kevin Mauro: Building a Brain-to-Brain Interface
A brain-to-brain interface connects one organism's brain to another to allow direct communication of neural data. Scary, right? But while words, vocal inflections and facial expressions are often misinterpreted, in a brain-to-brain interface, direct transmission of thoughts prevents any miscommunication. Not only is it faster, but it opens up a world of innovations for humanity. The Grand Challenge Scholars Program has inspired me to conduct clinical trials in these and other emerging areas of neuroscience.

Christine Schindler: Improving Women's Health Worldwide
As a Grand Challenge Scholar, my aim is to address the health disparities that exist for women on a global level by combining my passions and independent studies in global health and biomedical engineering as well as the research I have accomplished regarding women’s health.

Melina Smith: Understanding Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
I am uniting my penchant for physics and engineering with my passion for neuroscience and psychology toward the goal of Reverse-Engineering the Brain. I work in the laboratory of Marc Sommer studying the effect of transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) on single neurons in non-human primates.