Emily Gardel, a Ph.D. candidate in applied physics at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), has been awarded a three-year DOE Science Graduate Fellowship.

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SEAS student awarded fellowship

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Emily Gardel to focus on energy potential of bacteria

The Department of Energy Office of Science Graduate Fellowship program, a $22.7 million program to support outstanding students pursuing graduate training in the sciences, received an infusion of $12.5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

As a result, 150 graduate students, including Emily Gardel, a Ph.D. candidate in applied physics at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), have been awarded a three-year graduate fellowship, which includes tuition, living expenses, and research support.

Gardel’s adviser is Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology Joanna Aizenberg, Amy Smith Berylson Professor of Materials Science and a core faculty member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University. Gardel is also pursuing work under the direction of Peter R. Girguis, associate professor of the natural sciences in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and has worked in the lab of Vinothan Manoharan, associate professor of chemical engineering and physics.

Gardel will use the fellowship to examine how to use bacteria to generate electricity. “I am interested in how we can harness the electrons deposited by bacteria during respiration as a potential energy source,” says Gardel. “This fellowship will not only help me financially, but it will allow me to get together with all of the other fellows and energy scientists.”

The Graduate Fellowship program reflects the Office of Science’s strong commitment to the nation and complements President Obama’s mission to support math and science education, especially in areas of national need such as energy. The program is unique because it introduces young scientists to national laboratories to accelerate their work on energy-related topics.

The 2010 graduate fellows were selected from a competitive pool of young scientists from across the country.

Gardel, who anticipates graduating from Harvard in 2012, earned her undergraduate degree in physics from Smith College. She serves as a co-chair of Harvard Graduate Women in Science and Engineering (HGWISE), an organization of graduate students dedicated to the personal, academic, and professional development of women in science and engineering at Harvard.

Adapted from a press release by the Department of Energy.