Darin Butz Foundation Research Scholars – Summer 2019

Sophomore, Electrical Engineering

Nisha Kolagotla, a rising sophomore in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) in The Grainger College of Engineering, has been interested in research since first grade. One of the reasons she chose to come to Illinois was the opportunity for undergraduate students to get involved in research.

Nisha’s research endeavors in high school has brought her top awards in the Austin Energy Regional Science Fairs which helped her advance to the Texas State Science Fairs. She entered these competitions with science projects focused on Physics and Astronomy (electricity) and Chemistry (polymers for transistors and solar cells).

She has also co-authored a paper entitled, Synthesis and Characterization of Polymers for Organic Solar Cells and Transistors, during her participation as a Welch Summer Scholar in the University of Texas at Dallas in 2017.

In high school, Nisha was Debate Club team captain and received special distinction from the National Speech and Debate Association. She was also a member of the Student Leadership Advisory Committee, Latin Club, and National Honor Society. Currently, she is a James Scholar, recipient of the ECE Visionary Scholarship, and the Dr. Michael Bennett Horwitz Greater Austin Illini Club Scholarship.

As Darin Butz Research Scholar, Nisha will be working with Prof. Can Bayram. Her research project is entitled, Effect of Temperature on the Electrical and Optical Properties of Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). Her project involves measuring the I-V characteristics of LEDs by wafer probing. She is excited to learn about the physics behind the effects of temperature on the LED’s characteristics.


Senior, Engineering Physics

Swan Yee Htun is a rising senior in the Department of Physics in The Grainger College of Engineering, with a technical focus on computer science.

Currently, Swan is a Women in Engineering ambassador and a member of Women in Computer Science. Together with a team of women in CS, she helped develop a course planner webpage to augment and streamline the class registration process.

She came to Illinois as a transfer student from Santa Fe Community College where she obtained an associate of science degree in engineering with highest honors. She has actively pursued opportunities to conduct research in her fields of interest, i.e., physics and computer science. She is also the recipient of the Illinois Engineering Achievement Scholarship.

In 2017, she was a research intern at the National Center of Biotechnology at the National Institutes of Health. Using Python and Cytoscape for visualization, she analyzed data of cancer mutations and drug-gene interaction networks. She is also a research intern at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. She would like to do more research in computational and theoretical biophysics in the future.

As a Darin Butz Research Scholar, Swan will be working with Prof. Aleksei Aksimentiev. Her research project is entitled, Liquid Phase Separation in Biomolecular Condensates Associated with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Her project involves the use of computational tools and physics to investigate the biophysical basis of disease.

CookieSettings CookieSettings