Katsouleas NAE Grand Challenge Scholars Program

The Thomas C. Katsouleas National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenge Scholars Program at Duke seeks leaders with the drive to take on some of the biggest challenges facing humanity – and want to start while they are still undergraduates.

A Unique Educational Experience

The program educates young scholars with the technical expertise, breadth of knowledge and the social, ethical and environmental awareness to be leaders in the addressing the NAE Grand Challenges for Engineering.

Grand Challenge Scholars embark on a unique educational journey that integrates five key themes:

  • A hands-on project or research experience related to one of the Grand Challenges
  • An interdisciplinary curriculum
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship experience
  • A global dimension
  • Service learning

Grand Challenge Scholars receive an exceptional undergraduate education experience  – and up to $5,000 toward the completion of the Grand Challenge Portfolio.

Students must design their portfolio to document a variety of experiences that cover the five key themes and are related to their Grand Challenge focus. Students must also submit a senior thesis and complete their portfolio prior to the end of their senior year. Students are supported by a faculty member who they select to serve as their advisor and mentor.

What are the Grand Challenges?

The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) has identified a list of 14 "Grand Challenges for Engineering in the 21st Century" that must be addressed in order to achieve a sustainable, economically robust, and politically stable future for our children and our children's children. 

These challenges range from the most basic of human needs to the extraordinary. Read more about the 14 Grand Challenges.

The Thomas C. Katsouleas National Academy of Engineering (NAE) Grand Challenge Scholars Program at Duke is named in honor of former Pratt dean Tom Katsouleas, who played a leadership role in founding and launching the Grand Challenge Scholars Program on a national scale.

Becoming a Grand Challenge Scholar

You can apply to be a Grand Challenge Scholar during the spring of your sophomore year. Before that, you can learn more about the program and benefit from Grand Challenge workshops and seminars. You'll really get to work on being a Grand Challenge Scholar in your Junior Year. Grand Challenge Scholar applications are due before the end of your sophomore year.

For more information, contact Dean Jim Gaston at jim.gaston@duke.edu

First Year

  • Attend Grand Challenge Scholars Program workshops and seminars
  • Learn more about the 14 Grand Challenges

Sophomore Year

  • Select a one of the 14 Grand Challenges that will be your area of focus
  • Get approval of a Pratt faculty professor, who will serve as your advisor
  • Working with your advisor, identify the classes, experiences, or activities that you have done since your first year at Duke, are doing presently, or plan before graduation to do as part of your Grand Challenge Scholar portfolio that include:
    • Research
    • Interdisciplinary curriculum
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Global
    • Service Learning
  • Identify a topic for your GC senior thesis. This is usually something related to your research activities
  • Attend the Grand Challenge Scholar event in April on the Duke campus
  • Review your portfolio and senior thesis topic with your advisor
  • Submit your Grand Challenge application prior to end of your sophomore year

Students are strongly encouraged to meet with Dean Jim Gaston prior to submitting their online application. To contact Dean Gaston to discuss the GCS application process email jim.gaston@duke.edu

Junior Year

  • If selected as a Grand Challenge Scholar, continue work on your portfolio under the supervision of your advisor
  • Present a written update to the Grand Challenge Scholar committee in March (before Spring Break), and participate in the annual Grand Challenge Scholar event in April on the Duke campus.

Senior Year

  • Continue work on your portfolio under the supervision of your advisor
  • Present a written update to the Grand Challenge Scholar committee in January, and participate in the annual Grand Challenge Scholar event in April on the Duke campus.
  • Complete your Grand Challenges Senior Thesis prior to the end of your senior year.

Apply Now

Current and Previous Grand Challenge Scholars

Class of 2017 Grand Challenge Scholars

This class began their Grand Challenge Scholar Portfolios in January 2016 and will graduate in May 2017.

Efe Aras, 2017 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Majors: Electrical and Computer Engineering/Mathematics/Computer
Science
Grand Challenge: Secure Cyberspace
GC Advisor: Dr. Galen Reeves
Research: IoT and Driverless Cars

Raya Islam, 2017 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Mechanical Engineering
Grand Challenge: Engineer the Tools of Scientific Discovery
GC Advisor: Dr. Mary Cummings
Research: Using Drones in Gabon

Raina Kishan, 2017 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Grand Challenge: Engineer Better Medicines
GC Advisor: Dr. Nimmi Ramanujam
Research: Pre-Cancer Screening

Feimei Liu, 2017 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Grand Challenge: Engineer Better Medicines
GC Advisor: Dr. Charles Gersbach
Research: CRISPR/dCas9-Based Direct Reprogramming Into the Smooth Muscle Cell Lineage Courses

Lauren Shum, 2017 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Majors: Electrical and Computer Engineering
Grand Challenge: Make Solar Energy Economical
GC Advisor: Dr. Adrienne Stiff-Roberts
Research: Solar and Economic Considerations in the Lifecycle of a Solar Product

Anisha Singh, 2017 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Grand Challenge: Engineer Better Medicines
GC Advisor: Dr. George Truskey
Research: Using Tissue Engineering to Improve the Drug Development Process

Amy Xiong, 2017 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Majors: Biomedical Engineering/Electrical and Computer Engineering
Grand Challenge: Advance Health Informatics
GC Advisors: Dr. Marc Sommer and Dr. Constance Johnson
Research: Acoustic Manipulation of Microparticles for Biomedical Applications

2010-2016 Grand Challenge Scholars

2016 NAE Grand Challenge Scholars

This class began their Grand Challenge Scholar Portfolios in January 2015 and graduated in May 2016.

John Bernabei, 2016 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Biomedical Engineering; Chemistry Minor
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
Track: Pratt Fellows Program
GC Advisor: Dr. Angel Peterchev
Project Title: The Application of Computational Neuroengineering to Uncover the Basis of Neurological Disorders and Design Therapies for their Treatment

Yitaek Hwang, 2016 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Majors: Biomedical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
Track: Other
GC Advisor: Dr. Martin Brooke
Project Title: Low-cost Ophthalmologic Diagnostic Device for the Developing World

Grant Jirka, 2016 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry Minor
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
Track: Pratt Fellows Program
GC Advisor: Dr. Ashutosh Chilkoti and Dr. Wenge Liu (co-advisor)
Project Title: Designing Smart Carriers for Intratumoral Anticancer Drug Delivery

Jinsu Kim, 2016 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Grand Challenge: Reverse Engineering the Brain
Track: Pratt Fellows Program
GC Advisor: Dr. Marc Sommer
Project Title: The Effects of Spatial and Temporal TMS Application on Individual Neurons for Understanding Brain Function Changes Behind Cost-Efficient Improvements of TMS in Therapy

Jacob Feldman King, 2016 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Environmental Engineering
Grand Challenge: Provide Access to Clean Water
Track: Pratt Fellows Program
GC Advisor: Dr. Ana Barros
Project Title: Climate and Water Futures in the Mills River Basin

Eunice Leung, 2016 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Civil and Environmental Engineering (Sub-Plan: Structural and Mechanics)
Grand Challenge: Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure
Track: Duke Engineers for International Development (DEID)
GC Advisor: Dr. Joseph Nadeau
Project Title: Quality Control of Hand-mixed Concrete used in Buildings in Rural Uganda

Eli Lichtenberg, 2016 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Electrical and Computer Engineering
Grand Challenge: Make Solar Energy Economical
Track: Pratt Fellows Program
GC Advisor: Dr. Adrienne Stiff-Roberts
Project: Improving Organic Solar Cell Efficiency

Josh McMenemy, 2016 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
Track: Pratt Fellows Program
GC Advisor: Dr. Charles Gersbach
Project: Utilizing Personal Data for Healthcare

Shane Neibart, 2016 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Biomedical Engineering, PreMed, Chemistry Minor
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
Track: Pratt Fellows Program
GC Advisor: Dr. Brenton Hoffman
Project: Engineering Medicines to Better Treat Mechanosensitive Diseases

Gregory Poore, 2016 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines & Advancing Health Informatics
Track: Pratt Fellows Program
GC Advisor: Dr. Geoffrey Ginsburg
Project: Analyzing the Temporal Dynamics of Host Molecular Responses To Create Biosignatures For Improved & Personalized Patient Care

Ashley Reid, 2016 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
Track: Engineering World Health
GC Advisor: Dr. Robert Malkin
Project: Hypertension Screening Device for the Developing World

Evan Reilly, 2016 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Civil and Environmental Engineering (Sub-plan: Structures and Mechanics); Architectural Engineering Certificate
Grand Challenge: Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure
Track: Smart Home Fellows
GC Advisor: Dr. David Schaad
Project: Engineering Improved Urban Green Roofs

Minyoung Ryoo, 2016 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Grand Challenge: Reverse Engineering the Brain
Track: Pratt Fellows Program
GC Advisor: Dr. Marc Sommer
Project: Computational/Neural Basis of Decision Making and Social/Cultural Influences on Heuristics Used for Decision Making

Zohaib Shaikh, 2016 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry Minor
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
Track: Pratt Fellows Program
GC Advisor: Dr. Nenad Bursac
Project: The Potential Impact of Tissue Engineering on the Future of Medicine

Hannah Vaughan, 2016 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
Track: Pratt Fellows Program
GC Advisor: Dr. George Truskey
Project: Improving Drug Development through Tissue Engineering

Archit Verma, 2016 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
Track: Pratt Fellows Program
GC Advisor: Dr. Ashutosh Chilkoti
Project: From Lab to Patient: Optimizing Drug Research for Economic Viability

Noura Von Briesen, 2016 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Grand Challenge: Restoring and Improving Urban Infrastructure
Track: Other
GC Advisor: Dr. David Schaad
Project: Countering the Negative Socioeconomic Effects of Urban Development

Xizheng (Billy) Wan, 2016 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Majors: Biomedical Engineering and Computer Science
Grand Challenge: Engineer the Tools of Scientific Discovery
Track: Pratt Fellows Program
GC Advisor: Dr. Lingchong You
Project: Developing Dynetica – A Simulation Platform for Designing, Visualizing and Analyzing Gene Circuits

Richy Yun, 2016 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Majors: Biomedical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering
Grand Challenge: Reverse Engineering the Brain
Track: Pratt Fellows Program
GC Advisor: Dr. Miguel Nicolelis
Project: Controlling an Avatar Using a Brain-Machine Interface and its Implications on Neuroprosthetics


2015 NAE Grand Challenge Scholars

This class began their Grand Challenge Scholar Portfolios in January 2014 and graduated in May 2015.

Yeong-ran (Lucie) Ahn, 2015 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major:  Biomedical Engineering; Chemistry Minor, Visual Media Studies Minor
Grand Challenge:  Engineering Better Medicines & Advance Health Informatics
Track:  Pratt Fellows Program
GC Advisor: Dr. Ashtosh Chilkoti
Project Title:  Suggesting Next Phase of Healthcare Improvement from Biomedical and Sociological Perspectives

Bianca Bracht, 2015 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major:  Biomedical Engineering; Chinese Minor, Chemistry Minor
Grand Challenge:  Engineering Better Medicines
Track:  Engineering World Health
GC Advisor:  Dr. Robert Malkin
Project Title:  Engineering New Applications for Polyethylene Pouch Drug Delivery Systems

Danielle Colson, 2015 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major:  Mechanical Engineering; Energy and the Environment Certificate
Grand Challenge:  Making Solar Energy Economical
Track:  Other
GC Advisor:  Dr. Nico Hotz
Project Title:  Solar Hydrogen Production

Kendall Covington, 2015 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major:  Biomedical Engineering; Neuroscience Minor
Grand Challenge:  Engineering Better Medicines
Track:  Pratt Fellows Program
GC Advisor:  Dr. Nimmi Ramanujam
Project Title:  Addressing Global Women’s Health Concerns

Mona Dai, 2015 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major:  CEE, Sub-Plan:  Environmental Engineering/Water
Grand Challenge:  Providing Access to Clean Water
Track:  Engineers Without Borders
GC Advisor:  Dr. David Schaad
Project Title:  Introducing Effective Portable Water Purification to Rural Communities in Sub-Saharan Africa

Isa Ferrall, 2015 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major:  Mechanical Engineering; Energy and the Environment Certificate
Grand Challenge:  Making Solar Energy Economical
Track:  Other
GC Advisor:  Dr. Jeff Glass
Project Title:  Nanomaterial Applications in Solar Fuels

Lucas Johnston, 2015 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major:  Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering
Grand Challenge:  Engineering Better Medicines
Track:  Other
GC Advisor:  Dr. Lou Defrate
Project Title:  Applications of Orthopedic Biomechanics for Injury Prevention, Analysis, and Treatment

Kevin Mauro, 2015 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major:  Biomedical Engineering; Neuroscience minor, Chemistry minor
Grand Challenge:  Reverse-Engineering the Brain
Track:  Pratt Fellows Program
GC Advisor:  Dr. Miguel Nicolelis
Project Title:  Brain Control of Three Arms by a Two-Armed Primate

Kevin M. Nikolaus, 2015 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major:  Mechanical Engineering; Energy and the Environment, German
Grand Challenge:  Engineering the Tools for Scientific Discovery
Track:  Pratt Fellows Program
GC Advisor:  Dr. Michail Zavlanos
Project Title:  Mobile Robotics in Disaster Response and Environmental Management

Gift Nyikayaramba, 2015 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major:  ECE
Grand Challenge:  Making Solar Energy Economical
Track:  Other
GC Advisor:  Dr. Adrienne Stiff-Roberts
Project Title:  Improving Organic Solar Cell Efficiency

Grant Peterson, 2015 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Environmental Engineering; Public Policy Analysis
Grand Challenge:  Manage the Nitrogen Cycle, Provide Access to Clean Water
Track:  Pratt Fellows Program
GC Advisor:  Dr. Claudia Gunsch
Project Title:  Closed Cycle Subterranean Irrigation Systems for Fertilizer and Pesticide Containment

Christine Schindler, 2015 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major:  Biomedical Engineering; Global Health Minor
Grand Challenge:  Engineering Better Medicines
Track:  Pratt Fellows Program
GC Advisor:  Dr. Nimmi Ramanujam
Project Title:  Accessible Medication and Treatment Options Pertaining to Cervical Cancer and Women’s Health

Melina Smith, 2015 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major:  Biomedical Engineering
Grand Challenge:  Reverse-Engineer the Brain
Track:  Pratt Fellows Program
GC Advisor:  Dr. Marc Sommer
Project Title:  The Effects of Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation on Single Neurons


2014 NAE Grand Challenge Scholars

This class began their Grand Challenge Scholar Portfolios in January 2013 and graduated in May 2014.

Khanh Bui, 2014 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Biomedical Engineering; Chemistry Minor
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
GC Advisor: Dr. Tuan Vo-Dinh
Project Title: A Non-Invasive Approach to Early Cancer Detection

Virgina Chen, 2014 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Biomedical Engineering; Physics Minor
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
GC Advisor: Dr. Patrick Wolf
Project Title: Medical Devices and Procedures of the Developing World

Maxwell Coar, 2014 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Mechanical Engineering and Material Science
Grand Challenge: Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure
GC Advisor: Dr. Henri Gavin
Project Title: Fostering Tomorrow’s Engineers Through Youth-focused Urban Infrastructure Development

Connor Cotton, 2014 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Civil and Environmental Engineering Sub-Plan: Environmental Engineering/Water; Cultural Anthropology Minor
Grand Challenge: Managing the Nitrogen Cycle and Providing Access to Clean Water
GC Advisor: Dr. David Schaad
Project Title: Economic Viability of Effective Sewage Sanitation in Rural West Africa

Radu Darie, 2014 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Biomedical Engineering; Neuroscience Minor
Grand Challenge: Reverse-Engineer the Brain
GC Advisor: Dr. Marc Sommer
Project Title: Developing New Algorithms for the Analysis of Neuronal Spike Date

Albert Hu, 2014 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Biomedical Engineering and Biology
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
GC Advisor: Dr. Adam Wax
Project Title: Phase Microscopy in disease Detection

Max Jin, 2014 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Biomedical Engineering; Biology and Chemistry Minors
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicine
GC Advisor: Dr. Mark Dewhirst
Project Title: New Imaging Methods for Quantifying Tumor Hypoxia in vivo

Jade Kessler, 2014 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Electrical and Computer Engineering; Mathematics and Computer Science Minors
Grand Challenge: Make Solar Energy Economical
GC Advisor: Dr. Nan Jokerst
Project Title: Smart Technologies Implications and Applications in a Disparate World

Brady Klein, 2014 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Civil and Environmental Engineering Sub-Plan: Environmental Engineering/Water; Energy and Environment Certificate
Grand Challenge: Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure
GC Advisor: Dr. Tomasz Hueckel
Project Title: Altering the Public Mindset to Foster Infrastructural Improvement

Scott Martin, 2014 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Mechanical Engineering and Material Science; Chemistry Minor; Energy and the Environment Certificate
Grand Challenge: Make Solar Energy Economical, Develop Carbon Sequestration Methods
GC Advisor: Dr. Nico Hotz
Project Title: Developing a System Approach to Electrofuel Production

Emily Mass, 2014 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Civil and Environmental Engineering Sub-Plan: Structures and Mechanics; Energy and Environment Certificate
Grand Challenge: Providing Access to Clean Water
GC Advisor: Dr. David Shaad
Project Title: Environmental and Economic Viability of Green Roofs on Buildings in Urban Communities

Anirudh Mohan, 2014 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Electrical and Computer Engineering and Economics, Computer Science Minor
Grand Challenge: Enhance Virtual Reality
GC Advisor: Dr. Romit Roy Choudhry and Dr. John Board
Project Title: Implementation of a Self-Learning Algorithm for Physical Object Hyperlinking

Daria Nesterovich, 2014 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Biomedical Engineering; Neuroscience Minor
Grand Challenge: Reverse-Engineer the Brain
GC Advisor: Dr. Warren Grill
Project Title: Design and Validation of a Device to Quantify Limb Rigidity in Parkinson’s Disease

Taylor Phillips, 2014 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Civil and Environmental Engineering Sub-Plan: Structures and Mechanics
Grand Challenge: Providing Access to Clean Water
GC Advisor: Dr. David Schaad
Project Title: Improved Water Access: Ground-water Harvesting Systems in East Africa

Kushal Seetharam, 2014 NAE Grand Challenge Scholar
Major: Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics; Mathematics Minor
Grand Challenge: Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure
GC Advisor: Dr. John Board
Project Title: Development of a Novel Sanitation System for Developing Countries


2013 NAE Grand Challenge Scholars

Student: Grace Cambareri
Majors, minors, certificate programs: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Grand Challenge: Provide Access to Clean Water
GC Advisor: Dr. Schaad
Project Title: Optimal Storm Water Management to Improve Downstream Conditions

Student: Janghwan Cho
Majors, minors, certificate programs: Biomedical Engineering
Grand Challenge: Engineer the Tools of Scientific Discovery
GC Advisor: Dr. Lopez
Project Title: Development of Biocompatible Control Technology of Biofouling and its Economical Impact and Current Situation

Student: Hyun Koo Chung
Majors, minors, certificate programs: Biomedical Engineering
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
GC Advisor: Dr. Lo
Project Title: Medical Imaging of Cancer: Quantitative Estimation of Breast Density with Imaging

Student: Kerri Devine
Majors, minors, certificate programs: Electrical and Computer Engineering
Grand Challenge: Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure
GC Advisor: Dr. Board
Project Title: Developing a Smart Energy Infrastructure is Crucial for Economic and Environmental Sustainability

Student: Hunter Douglas
Majors, minors, certificate programs: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Grand Challenge: Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure
GC Advisor: Dr. Nadeau
Project Title: Environmental Benefits of Green Roof Design and Installation

Student: Maria Ferrara
Majors, minors, certificate programs: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Grand Challenge: Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure
GC Advisor: Dr. Schaad
Project Title: Sustainable Infrastructure: An Application of Water Resource Engineering and Renewable Energy

Student: Tolison Humphrey
Majors, minors, certificate programs: Biomedical Engineering
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
GC Advisor: Dr. Boyd
Project Title: Approaches to Nanomedicine Innovation & Commercialization for Global Impact

Student: Christine Larson
Majors, minors, certificate programs: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Grand Challenge: Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure
GC Advisor: Dr. Schaad
Project Title: Drains to Development: How Better Drainage System Can Improve Urban Development Worldwide

Student: Emmanuel Lim
Majors, minors, certificate programs: Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
Grand Challenge: Making Solar Energy Economical
GC Advisor: Dr. Hotz
Project Title: Design and Optimization of a Methanol Steam Reformer for Distributed Power Generation

Student: Jinchin Liu
Majors, minors, certificate programs: Biomedical Engineering
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
GC Advisor: Dr. Yuan
Project Title: Mathematical Modeling of Tumor Cells’ response to Developing Cancer Drugs

Student: Michael Maranzano
Majors, minors, certificate programs: Biomedical Engineering
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
GC Advisor: Dr. Malkin
Project Title: Delivery of Anti-retroviral Medication to Mothers Delivering at Home

Student: Rahul Nayak
Majors, minors, certificate programs: Biomedical Engineering
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
GC Advisor: Dr. Zauscher
Project Title: “Interactions of HIV-1 Neutralizing Antibodies with Engineered Viral Membrane Mimic: From the Lab to the Marketplace – Developing a Model to Promote Access to Essential Medicines (such as an HIV vaccine) in Resource Poor Settings.”

Student: Kathryn Latham
Majors, minors, certificate programs: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Grand Challenge: Making Sustainable Energy More Economical
GC Advisor: Dr. Gunsch
Project Title: The Challenges of Biodiesel Production and Use in Cochabamba, Bolivia

Student: Tejen Shah
Majors, minors, certificate programs: Biomedical Engineering
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
GC Advisor: Dr. Katz
Project Title: Design and Optimization of Vaginal Drug Delivery Formulations of the Prevention of HIV Infection

Student: Kala Viswanathan
Majors, minors, certificate programs: Civil and Environment Engineering (Water Resources Focus)
Grand Challenge: Make Solar (renewables) Energy Economical
GC Advisor: Dr. Schaad
Project Title: Energy Harvesting and Beneficial Re-Use of Waste Streams from Large Scale Swine Operations


2012 NAE Grand Challenge Scholars

Student: Amanda Britt, Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering Majors
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
GC Advisor: Robert Malkin, Professor of the Practice of BME
Project Title: The X-Ray Development Timer: Improving X-Ray Quality in the Developing World

Student: Maria Gibbs, Civil and Environmental Engineering Major
Grand Challenge: Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure
GC Advisor: David Schaad, Associate Professor of the Practice and Associate Chair, CEE
Project Title: Developing Critical Infrastructure in Rural El Salvador

Student: Catherine Joseph, Civil and Environmental Engineering Major
Grand Challenge: Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure
GC Advisor: David Schaad, Associate Professor of the Practice and Associate Chair, CEE Project Title: Affording Sustainability – Developing Affordable, Sustainable Housing

Student: Greer Mackebee, Civil and Environmental Engineering Major
Grand Challenge: Providing Access to Clean Water
GC Advisor: Heileen Hsu-Kim, Assistant Professor, CEE
Project Title: Environmental Impacts of Coal Combustion Products in Developing Nations

Student: Andrew Mang, Mechanical Engineering Major
Grand Challenge: Provide Access to Clean Water
GC Advisor: Josiah Knight, Associate Professor, ME
Project Title: Improving Water Distribution in Developing Countries

Student: Annelise Mesler, Civil and Environmental Engineering Major
Grand Challenge: Provide Access to Clean Water
GC Advisor: David Schaad, Associate Professor of the Practice and Associate Chair, CEE
Project Title: Watershed Management and Stream Restoration in the Neuse River Basin

Student: Sidney Primas, Biomedical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering Majors
Grand Challenge: Reverse-Engineering the Brain
GC Advisor: Miguel Nicolelis, Professor of Neuroscience, Depts. Neurobiology and Biomedical Engineering
Project Title: Restoration of Somatosensory Sensation through Brain-Machine Interfaces

Student: Chris Radford, Biomedical Engineering Major
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
GC Advisor: Ashutosh Chilkoti, Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Project Title: Advancements in the Field of Polypeptide Nanoparticles and its Relevance in the Evolving Health Care Market

Student: Alex Sun, Biomedical Engineering Major
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
GC Advisor: Farshid Guilak, Professor, Biomedical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Orthopedic Surgery
Project Title: Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells: Modeling Disease in Personal and Global Medicine

Student: Andrew Weitz, Biomedical Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering Majors, Neuroscience Minor
Grand Challenge: Reverse-Engineering the Brain
GC Advisor: Miguel Nicolelis, Professor of Neuroscience, Depts. Neurobiology and Biomedical Engineering
Project Title: Restoration of Somatosensory Sensation through Brain-Machine Interfaces

Student: Xin Xu, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics Majors
Grand Challenge: Making Solar Power Economical
GC Advisor: Adrienne Stiff-Roberts, Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
Project Title: Modeling Charge Transport Mechanisms in Inorganic/Organic Photovoltaics

Student: David Yudovich, Biomedical Engineering Major, Biology and Chemistry Minors
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
GC Advisor: Charles Gersbach, Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering
Project Title: Safe and Targeted Genetic Therapy Approach to Treating Hemophilia A in Mice, Using Site Specific Integration of Factor VIII Gene


2011 NAE Grand Challenges Scholars

Student: Anna Brown
Grand Challenge: Engineer Better Medicine
GC Advisor: Mark Dewhirst, BME
Project Title: Functional endoscopic imaging for enhanced detection of malignancy in Barrett’s esophagus, and pancreatic and biliary carcinoma

Student: Jared Dunnmon
Grand Challenge: Make Solar Energy Economical (Sustainable Energy)
GC Advisor: Earl Dowell, ME
Project Title: Design, Modeling, and Optimization of a Flutter-Based Energy Harvester

Student: Ben Gagne
Grand Challenge: Make Solar Energy Economical
GC Advisor: Don Bliss, ME
Project Title: Ducted Vertical-Axis Wind Turbines

Student: Francesco LaRocca
Grand Challenge: Engineer the Tools of Scientific Discovery
GC Advisor: Joe Izatt, BME
Project Title: Image Processing in Optical Coherence Tomography

Student: Trisha Lowe
Grand Challenge: Make Solar (renewables) Energy Economical
GC Advisor: David Schaad, CEE
Project Title: “In My Backyard” Energy- the Economical and Responsible Solution

Student: Niru Maheswaranathan
Grand Challenge: Reverse Engineer the Brain
GC Advisor: Craig Henriquez, BME
Project Title: Modeling and Training of Networks of Neurons for Adaptive Control

Student: Lyndsey Morgan
Grand Challenge: Make Solar (renewables) Energy Economical
GC Advisor: David Schaad, CEE
Project Title: renewable: a new look at the old excuse that renewable energy is unattainable

Student: Eng Seng Ng
Grand Challenge: Make Solar Energy Economical
GC Advisor: David Schaad, CEE
Project Title: Topics Relating to Waste-to-Energy Operations

Student: Eric Thorne
Grand Challenge: Make Solar Energy Economical
GC Advisor: Gary Ybarra, ECE
Project Title: Design of Solar-Powered LED Lighting Units for a Rural Clientele


2010 NAE Grand Challenge Scholars 

Student: Matthew Baron
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
GC Advisor: Lori Setton BME
Project Title: Tissue engineering as a model system for cartilage malformations 

Student: Vyshak Chandra
Grand Challenge: Reverse Engineering the Brain
GC Advisor: Romulo Fuentes and Miguel Nicoleis BME
Project Title: Electrophysiological Characterization and Sleep State Analysis in Transgenic Animal Models of Parkinson’s Disease 

Student: Jason Chen
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
GC Advisor: David Katz BME
Project Title: The application of a two-dimensional finite difference model for rational design of HIV microbicide gels

Student: Adam Grasch
Grand Challenge: Prevent Nuclear Terror
GC Advisor: Earl Dowell ME
Project Title: Harmonic Frequency Determination for Multi-Store HALE Wing

Student: Margaret Hoff
Grand Challenge: Provide Access to Clean Water
GC Advisor: David Schaad CEE
Project Title: Chemical Cocktail and Density Driven Distribution: An examination of the groundwater impacts and remedial effectiveness at the NCSU NPL Site

Student: Xiao Li
Grand Challenge: Engineer the Tools of Scientific Discovery
GC Advisor: Joseph Izatt BME
Project Title: Segmentation of Ophthalmic Optical Coherence Tomography Images Using Graph Cuts

Student: Jamie Lou
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
GC Advisor: Anne Lazarides BME
Project Title: Real-Time Monitoring of Molecular Nanostructure Assembly on Biofunctionalized Surfaces

Student: Will Patrick
Grand Challenge: Making Solar Energy Economical
GC Advisor: David Schaad CEE
Project Title: Investigating an Aeroelastic Wind Energy Harvester Utilizing Wake Galloping

Student: Jai Singh
Grand Challenges: Provide Access to Clean Water and Restore and Improve Urban Infrastructure
GC Advisor: David Schaad CEE
Project Title: Urban Watershed Restoration: Sandy Creek Tributary
Offline Stormwater Enhancement Project

Student: Patrick Ye
Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
GC Advisor: Robert Malkin BME
Project Title: Global Innovative Uses of Electrical Stimulation as Personalized Therapies

 

Resources for Grand Challenge Scholars and Applicants

Students are strongly encouraged to meet with Dean Jim Gaston to discuss the GCS application process prior to submitting their online application. Emai jim.gaston@duke.edu

How to Become a Grand Challenge Scholar

  1. Choose one of the 14 Grand Challenges (GC) that will be your area of focus
  2. Get the approvalof a Pratt faculty professor who will serve as your advisor
  3. Working with your advisor, identify the classes, experiences, or activities that you have done after the start of your first year at Duke, are doing now, or plan to do before graduation that include Research, Interdisciplinary curriculum, Entrepreneurship, Global, and Service Learning as part of your GC portfolio..
  4. Identify a topic for your GC senior thesis. This is usually something related to your research activities.
  5. Review your portfolio and senior thesis topic with your advisor.
  6. Submit your Grand Challenge application prior to end of your sophomore year.
  7. Once you are accepted as a Grand Challenge Scholar, then proceed with completion of your portfolio under the supervision of your advisor.
  8. Present a written update to the Grand Challenge Scholars committee during the spring semester of your Junior and Senior years, and participate in the Grand Challenge Scholar event each April on the Duke campus.
  9. Finish and submit your Grand Challenge Scholar thesis prior to the end of your senior year.

The Grand Challenge Portfolio

The Grand Challenge Portfolio is made up of a variety of classes (including independent study classes) and experiences that are related to your Grand Challenge (GC) focus. These activities must cover the 5 GC key themes: Research, Interdisciplinary curriculum, Entrepreneurship, Global, and Service Learning. The first two themes (Research and Interdisciplinary curriculum) must be In Depth. The other three themes may be Medium or Minimum depth (see restrictions below).

In-Depth Experiences

1. Research – Student must do in-depth research related to their GC Focus

  • Guidelines: Three (3) independent study classes or equivalent experiences related to the students GC focus.
  • In-Depth Experiences = 400-plus total hours

Examples of in-depth research experiences:

  • Pratt Fellows research
  • Bass Connections project or research
  • Smart Home Fellows research
  • Independent Study research class
  • Engineering World Health (possible Global Experience)
  • Senior design project
  • Center for Entrepreneurship and Research Commercialization
  • Graduation with Departmental Distinction research
  • International Honors Program
  • Work in a research lab or on a research project
  • Other similar research experiences

Note: Your GC Research experiences may also count toward Global, Entrepreneurial, or Service Learning minimum experiences. See restrictions below.

2. Interdisciplinary curriculum – Student must complete in-depth interdisciplinary curriculum classes related to their GC Focus

  • Guidelines: 3 non-engineering (non-research) classes or equivalent experiences that are related to the students GC focus
  • In-Depth Experiences = 400-plus total hours

Examples of interdisciplinary curriculum experiences:

  • Non-engineering classes (such as social science and humanities classes)
  • Biology and Natural Science classes generally do not count
  • Bass Connections project
  • Engineering World Health (possible global experience)
  • I&E classes (possible entrepreneurial experience)
  • Other similar interdisciplinary experiences or classes

Note: Your GC Interdisciplinary experiences may also count as minimum experiences in Global, Entrepreneurial, or Service Learning areas. See restrictions below.

Medium and Minimum Depth Experiences

For the remaining three Components – Entrepreneurship, Global, and Service Learning – one (1) must be at Medium Depth level (or higher) and related to your GC focus. The other two (2) components can be Minimum Depth (or higher) and related to any of the 14 GCs.

Medium Depth is defined as a practicum immersion experience or research activity that spans an 8-week summer or a regular semester, or one regular semester class or independent study.

Minimum Depth is defined as a semester or less extra-curricular experience such as a volunteer activity, short course, workshop, seminar series or conference. Minimum experiences must be thematically linked to one of the 14 GC themes that may or may not incorporate the student's GC Focus.

Either (but not both) of the In Depth experiences (Research or Interdisciplinary) may directly incorporate the Entrepreneurial, Global or Service learning components, and thus can be "double-counted" as an additional component depending on the GC Focus, the engineering and non-engineering courses taken, the nature of the research/project/curriculum, and the extent of engagement.

3. Entrepreneurship

  • Guidelines: An entrepreneurship experience outside the classroom or lab that is related to the students GC focus
  • Entrepreneurship experience can be either Medium or Minimum depth experiences. See guidelines and restrictions above.

Examples of I&E experiences:

  • Participating in the Duke Start Up challenge
  • Participating in a Hackathon event
  • Bass Connection projects
  • I&E internship experience
  • Duke in Silicon Valley

4. Global

  • Guidelines: A Global experience outside the classroom or lab that is related to the students GC focus
  • Global experience can be either medium or minimum depth experiences. See guidelines and restrictions above.

Examples of Global experiences:

  • Duke Engage
  • Study Abroad
  • DEID
  • Engineering World Health
  • Smart Home KTH summer research program in Stockholm
  • International conferences or travel experiences

Note: The Global experience must be conducted outside the student's home country. For students from the United States of America, the experience should be outside of North America. For international students, the global experience should be outside of the USA. The global experience should be a cross-cultural experience for the student.

5. Service Learning

  • Guidelines: A Service Learning experience outside of the classroom that deepens social awareness and heightens motivation to develop practical solutions for society’s problems.
  • Entrepreneurship experience can be either medium or minimum depth experiences. See guidelines and restrictions above.

Examples of Service Learning experiences:

  • Volunteer work
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • Boeing Grand Challenge K-12 Outreach program
  • Student Clubs
  • Engineering World Health
  • DEID

Instructions for Completing the Online GCS Application

Review the information on section above which outlines the steps required to become a Grand Challenge Scholar. You will need this information prior to submitting your online application.

A note on files you upload to the application:

  • Submit files in PDF format
  • Name your files with your first name and last name

You will need to provide the following information to successfully complete the application:

Personal Details, Essay and Reference Letters:

  • Name
  • Duke Unique ID (7-digit number)
  • Email
  • Major(s)
  • Minor(s)
  • Certificate program(s)
  • Honors
  • Planned Graduation Date
  • GPA
  • Copy of your current transcript – upload as a PDF with the file name in this format: FirstnameLastname_Transcript.pdf
  • Grand Challenge Focus – select one from list provided
  • Grand Challenge Thesis topic
  • GC essay – upload as a PDF with the file name in this format: FirstnameLastname_Essay.pdf
    • 500 words max
    • Why you want to be a GCS?
    • How being a GCS will help you accomplish your future goals
  • Two (2) letters of reference
    • One (1) reference letter from your GC advisor (Pratt faculty) stating that they agree to be your GC advisor – upload as a PDF with file name FirstnameLastname_Ref1.pdf
    • One (1) additional reference letter – upload as a PDF with file name FirstnameLastname_Ref2.pdf

Experiences

Most GCS applications will include nine (9) different experiences:

  • Three (3) Research experiences (high depth)
  • Three (3) Interdisciplinary classes (high depth)
    • One (1) Entrepreneurship experience (medium/minimum depth)
    • One (1) Global experience (medium/minimum depth)
    • One (1) Service Learning experience (medium/minimum depth)

You may list up to 12 different experiences in your GC online application

  • List completed experiences fist, then current (or in-progress) experiences, and finally any planned (or future) experiences. List each experience or class or independent study separately.
  • One (1) medium depth experience must be related to your GC focus. The other 2 can be minimum depth and related to any of the 14 GC.
  • For each experience, describe clearly what you did (or plan to do) during each experience and how the experience is related to your GC focus.
  • Only one (1) of the in-depth experiences may “double count” as a minimum depth experience.

Experience Example (Submit up to 12)

  • Experience Title – five (5) words maximum
  • This Experience is mostly (select):
    • Research
    • Interdisciplinary curriculum
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Global
    • Service Learning
  • This Experience will also count as a Minimum Depth experience in (choose 1): (optional)
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Global
    • Service Learning
  • Brief Description of the Experience – What did you do or plan to do?
  • How is this experience related to your GC focus?
  • Status of this experience (select):
    • Completed
    • In-progress
    • Planned
  • Start Date (actual or planned)
  • End Date (actual or planned)
  • Typical hours per week for this experience (actual or planned)
  • Total hours to complete this experience (actual or planned)
  • Supervisor Name: (required if completed or in progress – optional in Planned)
  • Supervisor Email: (required if completed or in progress – optional in Planned)

List of Related Resources at Duke

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