DaRin Butz Foundation Research Scholars – Summer 2022


JULIE LEE

Senior in Computer Engineering

Julie is a Senior in Computer Engineering in the Grainger College of Engineering. After graduation, she intends to pursue a PhD in Computer Architecture.

As an ARCANA Undergraduate Researcher since Spring 2022, Julie has been working with Professor Saugata Ghose in the field of Computer Architecture. Her experience designing hardware in the Digital Systems Laboratory was her first exposure to this field and is what sparked her interest in designing efficient systems.

Beyond research and coursework, Julie is very involved in campus organizations. She served as the Marketing Chair of Women in Electric and Computer Engineering (WECE) and is currently the Technical Executive of Engineering Ambassadors. Her role involves presenting the organization to the outside world, by facilitating its website and social media platforms.

As a DaRin Butz Foundation Scholar, Julie is investigating how the cache can be restructured to store additional information beyond just its contents, for better suited algorithms that are high performance and energy efficient.

Nitika Purohit
Sophomore in Nuclear, Plasma, Radiological Engineering

Nitika is a sophomore majoring in Nuclear, Plasma and Radiological Engineering in the Grainger College of Engineering. 

Nitika is extremely passionate about the environment. Her desire to build clean technology which benefits society while also acting harmoniously with our planet, is what drove her to get involved in research. After completing her undergraduate studies, she hopes to continue working on green, disruptive technology.

Outside of classes, Nitika is the Outreach Chair for Women in Nuclear, where she focuses on educating the community about Nuclear Science along with advocating for more women in STEM and Nuclear Engineering. She has also been playing rugby since high school and plays for the Women’s Rugby Team on campus. 

As a DaRin Butz Foundation Scholar, Nitika is focusing on the clean production of fertilizer and is conducting research with the aim of producing ammonia using low-temperature plasma. 

Sofia Vargas
Senior in Materials Science and Engineering

Sofia is a senior majoring in Materials Science and Engineering in the Grainger College of Engineering. After graduation, she hopes to continue her education through a PhD in MatSE focusing on biomaterials and tissue engineering. 

As a member of the Harley Research Group which specializes in biomaterial implementation and regeneration, Sofia researched how the Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells (HMSCs) interact with other stimuli. Her work in the lab also sparked her curiosity about sex-linked differences in diseases.

Apart from research, Sofia is heavily involved in extra-curricular activities on campus. She was the Captain of the Illini Swim Club for two years and now serves as the Treasurer. Sofia is also a mentor and coordinator for the ARISE program that assists engineering students from disadvantaged backgrounds, and a tutor and lead facilitator for CARE tutoring. 

As a DaRin Butz Foundation Scholar, Sofia is focusing on understanding the dynamics between osteoporosis and estrogen in mineralized collagen scaffolds. 

Farah Mohammed Rafee
Senior in Engineering Physics

Farah is a senior majoring in Engineering Physics in the Grainger College of Engineering. After graduating, she aims to start pursuing a PhD in Nuclear Physics, Accelerator Physics, or a related field. 

For the past year, Farah has been a member of the ATLAS Zero Degree Calorimeter (ZDC) Group, headed by Professor Matthias Perdekamp. As part of this, she has spent several hours in Loomis Laboratory with her lab mates, building two reaction plane detectors, which are to be installed in the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in November 2022. Outside of research, Farah is a member of the Malaysian Student Association and the Outdoor Adventure Club. She also previously served as the webmaster of both the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society and the Illini Thaakat Foundation. 

As a DaRin Butz Foundation Scholar, Farah worked on completing the construction of the detector, and then traveled to CERN, the largest particle physics laboratory in the world, to test the detector and troubleshoot its performance. 

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