REU Alumni

Soft Matter REU Alumni (2017–2019)

As of today, 73% of REU students have joined graduate schools. Indeed, 12 (46%) alumni joined Ph.D. programs (Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech/Emory; Biomechanics at Northeastern; Biophysics at the University of Chicago and University of California-San Diego; Environmental Science at Brown; Material Science/Engineering at Northwestern and Cornell; Mechanical Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and Duke; Physics at University of Massachusetts-Boston, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Ohio State University) and 7 (27%) joined MS programs (Biomedical Engineering at Rutgers and CSU; Physics at CWRU, Purdue, and CSU; and Aerospace Engineering at Washington University). In addition, 4 (15%) alumni are employed in STEM (2 systems engineers, supply engineers, and software engineers) and 1 not in STEM. Another 2 alumni who are finishing their undergraduate degrees plan for a STEM graduate school.

Samantha Hudson (Hiram College, Hiram OH)

Dr. Kiril A Streletzky – 2017 – “Studying the Volume Phase Transition of Polymeric Microgels with Light Scattering”

Samantha hudsonThe Cleveland State REU introduced me to the world of research.  The experience of hands-on learning early in my studies helped me to ask better questions about the world around me as I navigated my studies in Physics at Hiram College and two more REUs in Astronomy and Astronomical Instrumentation at BYU and Texas A&M.  I went on to complete a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering at Washington University in Saint Louis and multiple co-ops at Johnson Space Center (JCS)I now work full-time at JSC with the Guidance, Navigation, and Control branch supporting the International Space Station (ISS) and Artemis Programs.  I study the complex navigation and control systems for the ISS and the Space Launch System (SLS) and will eventually help operate these vehicles in Mission Control.  I will always remember the Cleveland State REU for challenging me to grow as a scientist and a critical thinker through lab work, presenting at conferences, and networking. I also loved the opportunity to explore Cleveland and North East Ohio with some of my fellow REU students!

John Weicherding (University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison WI)

Dr. Geyou Ao – 2017 –“Purification and Assembly of DNA-Stabilized Boron Nitride Nanotubes”

John WeicherdingI graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BS degree in nuclear engineering. Not long after my REU with Cleveland State University, I got an internship with Cardinal Glass using many of the skills I had just learned. Impressed with my background and ability to apply it, I was offered a full-time systems engineer position designing new glass coatings and production line diagnostics. One of my favorite experiences while in the REU was touring the Liquid Crystal Institute. They had many interesting labs and displays; one of the displays they gave out was a liquid crystal magnet thermometer which is still in my car from the day I got it!

Tony Dobrila (Cleveland State University, Cleveland OH)

Drs. Kiril A. Streletzky and Petru Fodor – 2017 – “Optimizing the Direct Visualization of HPC Microgels Via Scanning Electron Microscopy”

Tony DobrilaI graduated from Cleveland State University with a Bachelor's degree in Physics (BS Honors) in 2018. I currently work for RoviSys, an automation integrator spanning various verticals in the industry, as a software engineer. The REU at Cleveland State taught me a great work ethic, and to pursue creative and sometimes unconventional solutions to problems, which ultimately led me to pursue a career in software, where I regularly work with clients to solve unique and interesting engineering problems. If I had to choose my favorite thing about my REU experience, it would undoubtedly have to be seeing the results of my experiments yielding good, reproducible, and promising results after countless hours of failed attempts. That sense of accomplishment is what keeps us coming back for more every time.

Ty Naquin (Troy University, Troy AL)

Drs. Nolan Holland and Kiril A. Streletzky – 2018 – “Drug delivery Nanoparticles”

Ty NaquinI graduated from Troy University with a BS in Physics degree and currently attend a Ph.D. program at Duke University. This REU had a tremendous impact on my decision to attend grad school and inspired me to pursue research with strong biomedical applications. After REU at CSU, I also participated in the “Optics in the City of Lights” REU program in Paris. My favorite thing about the REU program at CSU is definitely the friends I made. I still keep in touch with other REU participants and my advisors. It was a great experience overall. Ty won the prestigious 2021-2022 NSF’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program award.

Troy Nemeth (John Carroll University, Cleveland OH)

Dr. Jessica Bickel – 2018 – “Self-Assembly of Pentacene on Highly Oriented Pyrolytic Graphite”

Troy NemthJohn Carroll University (JCU) alum. Applied to Case Western Reserve University (CWRU) for a Master's in Physics. Still waiting to hear back. Probably will have to job search for engineering-esque jobs (electrical, mechanical, idk). CSU REU was a great opportunity to develop a unique skill set. I learned a lot and had a lot of fun. I think it pushed me against pursuing research as a career, but it was a very awesome summer for growth. My favorite part was providing an oral presentation at the research symposium. I have never done anything like that and I will likely never forget public speaking to 80+ people. I really enjoyed the interdisciplinary aspect: getting some knowledge about ALL projects and all equipment used in high-level research (STM, SEM, etc).

Niksa Praljak (Cleveland State University, Cleveland OH)

Dr. Andrew Resnick – 2018 – “Pulsatile flow in idealized renal tubules”

Niksa PraljakNiksa graduated from CSU with BS in Physics Honors and BS in Math Honors in Spring 2020 Summa Cum Laude. He performed research with Dr. Resnick (as part of CSU’s REU), Dr. Ryan, and Dr. Hinczewski (CWRU). Niksa presented his research at the OSAPS at Kettering, at the APS March Meeting in Boston, and to SPS at CSU. His research was published in 2 peer-reviewed journals. Niksa won the prestigious 2019-2020 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program award. Furthermore, he helped the SPS physics outreach effort at Campus International School and served as the SPS-Math Club liaison, organizing SPS seminars and Physics Olympics. Finally, Niksa was chosen as the Spring 2020 COSHP Valedictorian. He just began his Ph.D. studies in Biophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago.

Jacob Adamczyk (Cleveland State University, Cleveland OH

Dr. Miron Kaufman and Dr. Kiril Streletzky – 2018 – “Entropy Driven Phase Transitions in Polymer Gels”

Jacob AdamczykJacob graduated from CSU with a BS in Physics Honors and a BS in Math and Summa Cum Laude in the Spring of 2020. He did research projects with Dr. Kaufman, Dr. Heus, Dr. Streletzky (as part of CSU’s REU), and Dr. Winkelmann (Neel Institute, Grenoble, France). Jacob presented his research at the OSAPS at Kettering, at the APS March Meeting in Boston, and gave an SPS talk at CSU. He also served as SPS Fabulous Physics question creator, helped with Physics Olympics, and was the sole author of the questions for Physics Jeopardy in the Spring of 2019. Jacob won the 2019 SPS Leadership Fellowship from the American Institute of Physics (AIP). He is in the Ph.D. physics program at the University of Massachusetts - Boston where he is working with two groups in Quantum Computing & Biophysics.

Josh Clark (Cleveland State University, Cleveland OH)

Dr. Petru Fodor – 2018 – “Microfluidic Channels and Mixers”

Josh ClarkI graduated from Cleveland State University with a BS in Physics Honors degree in 2018. I first went to work as an R&D Scientist at GrafTech International here in Cleveland. I would say the experience I gained from the REU provided me with an important technical foundation within the COMSOL Multiphysics software package, which has been essential to me in starting a career in Finite Elements Analysis. After a couple of years of working at GrafTech, I got admitted into the Ph.D. program in Material Science at the University of Pennsylvania where I am starting my studies in the Fall of 2021.


Abigail Hickin (Benedictine College, Atchison KS)

Dr. Jessica Bickel – 2018 – “Self-Assembly of Organic Molecules”

Abigail HickinI graduated from Benedictine College in May 2021 with a BS in Physics and BA in Mathematics, Summa Cum Laude. Currently, I am pursuing a Master’s Degree in Physics at Purdue University, with the research area still TBD. My REU experience at Cleveland State University gave me my first taste of research, and I acquired a lot of skills through it. It also played a significant role in my graduate school application. It made me feel more confident going into graduate school, knowing that I had some experience in both performing and presenting research. I am so grateful for the opportunities that having this REU experience has opened up for me.

Jacob Duckworth (Michigan State University, East Lansing MI)

Dr. Andy Resnick – 2019 – “Optical Trapping to Investigate Cilia Mechanics”

jacob DuckworthI graduated from Michigan State University in December 2019 with degrees in biosystems engineering and physics. Currently, I am a biophysics Ph.D. student at the University of California - San Diego where I am studying neurophysics and researching how sensory information is processed in the mammalian brain. The REU program at CSU helped me set goals for graduate study and provided experience using a variety of experimental methods. My favorite aspect of the REU program was getting to know other passionate biophysics students and exploring the city of Cleveland.

Bradley Lockhart (Ohio Northern University, Ada OH)

Dr. Jessica Bickel – 2019 – “Pentacene Thin Film Deposition”

Bradley LockheartI graduated from Ohio Northern University with BS degrees in Physics and Applied Math. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. at Institute at Brown for Environment and Society at Brown University where I am working on Arctic climate modeling. I think my participation in the REU was very beneficial in my acceptance to graduate school. I was told several times that having a letter of recommendation from an REU made me stand out among many qualified candidates. Overall, my participation in the CSU REU gave me a valuable head-start on my academic career. One of the best parts of the REU was the community of students that formed over the course of the internship. Whether it was a planned event or simply going out on a lunch break I always looked forward to meeting with everyone.

Tyler Leibengood (Youngstown State University, Youngstown OH)

Dr. Christopher Wirth – 2019 – “Direct measurement of deposition of synthetic and biological colloids”

Tyler LeibengoodTyler Leibengood completed a double major at Youngstown State University in Mathematics and Physics. Microscopy techniques he learned at CSU were key to his success in an internship at NASA Glenn Research Center (where he worked on additive manufacturing of a special medium entropy alloy) that he completed the following spring semester. Cleveland offers plenty of fun all year round, and Tyler is thankful to the physics department at CSU for offering this amazing educational experience. Tyler has been accepted to Northwestern University for a Ph.D. program in Materials Science and Engineering.

Peter Allen Howard (Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge LA)

Dr. Christopher Wirth – 2019 – “Characterizing Anisotropic Particle Dynamics Under Complex Fields”

Peter Allen HowardCurrently a senior at LSU pursuing an undergraduate degree in Chemistry with a focus on Food Science. Working on a research project involving cloning E.coli with vectors from Chlamydia trachomatis bacteria to develop a broader project related to protein structure in Chlamydia. My experience with the REU helped open my eyes to the variety of opportunities that are available beyond undergraduate especially those not directly related to my specific field of interest. I especially learned to recognize the value in relationships with others both in your field and outside of it in order to develop a broader perspective. For that reason, I greatly appreciated getting to connect with the faculty at CSU and the other REU participants some of who I still keep in touch with! Having time away from the lab to attend concerts and restaurants around Cleveland through the program was also very nice as it gave me much-needed time to relax and connect with the rest of the cohort.

Benjamin Bosela (University of Toledo, Toledo OH)

Dr. Chandra Kothapalli – 2019 – “Synthesis of Gold Nanoparticles using Microfluidic Mixers”

Benjamin BoselaI plan to graduate from the University of Toledo with a BS in Physics in the spring of 2021. I participated in the Soft Matter REU during the summer of 2019. Currently, I am doing research in an atomic physics lab at my university. The REU was my first research experience and prepared me for more undergraduate research. Further, the poster presentations during the REU helped improve my professional skills. Participating in the REU provided me with an exceptional opportunity to learn from a diverse group of advisors and other REU students.

Samantha Tietjen (Cleveland State University, Cleveland OH)

Dr. Petru Fodor and Dr. Kiril Streletzky – 2019 – “Optimization of Hydroxypropyl Cellulose Microgel Imaging and Characterization Using Scanning Electron Microscopy”

Samantha TietjenSamantha has completed her B.S. in Physics (2020) Honors and her M.S. in Physics (2021) through CSU’s 4+1 Master’s program. Her research interest is in imaging techniques using any manner of methodology; including x-ray imaging, single wavelength imaging, and scanning electron microscopy. After completing her degree, she would like to work in art conservation using imaging techniques for the preservation of medieval arms and armor, either through entering the workforce directly or first completing her Ph.D. On the side, she is a commissioned artist, Historical European Martial Arts student and enthusiast, bizarre literature aficionado, and horse trainer (general, tricks, and mounted archery). Samantha is president of CSU’s chapter of the Society of Physics Students (SPS) and a recipient of the 2019 SPS Leadership Fellowship from the American Institute of Physics.

Jacob Martin (Cleveland State University, Cleveland OH)

Dr. Jessica Bickel – 2019 – “Achieving Flat Gold Surfaces for Organization of Organic Molecules”

Jacob MartinI am a senior in chemical engineering at Cleveland State University working on my BS degree. I have continued research with Dr. Bickel throughout my undergrad and will continue with research for my master's degree (through CSU’s 4+1 Masters' program). The REU helped me realize that I am passionate about research and that is something I would like to continue with in my career. One of my favorite things about the REU was building a cohort with students from different universities.


Mario Alberto (Cleveland State University, Cleveland OH)

Drs. Nolan Holland and Kiril A Streletzky - 2019 - "Design, Expression, and Characterization of Protein-Based Materials"

Mario AlbertoMario graduated from CSU in the Spring of 2023 with an Honors Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering and a triple minor in physics, chemistry, and mathematics. After completing the 2019 REU, Mario took a gap year to work as a bio-analyst and assay scientist in the Philadelphia area at Merck & Co. before returning to Cleveland to finish his degree. The REU also served as a launching point for Mario to earn a research internship at an industrial biotech startup in Palo Alto (IFF’s Genencor Technology Center) and to be employed as a research student at the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Institute for the remainder of his undergraduate career. He currently works as a research professional at Stanford University in the Department of Bioengineering and plans to pursue his Ph.D.