Haake, 6 alumni receive NSF grad research fellowships

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Haake, 6 alumni receive NSF grad research fellowships

Aaron Haake
Aaron Haake

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Aaron Haake, a senior mechanical engineering major from Denton, Nebraska, and six Husker alumni have received 2022 Graduate Research Fellowships from the National Science Foundation.

A member of the University Honors Program, Haake serves as president of the UNL Robotics Club and is an Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experiences (UCARE) fellow in the Smart Materials and Robotics Lab supervised by Eric Markvicka, assistant professor of mechanical and materials engineering.

“There is no way I would have gotten here without my research through UCARE,” Haake said. “My adviser was super helpful with my application. I proposed a research project that builds on my current research. Knowledge of the research process and a relevant research topic is important for being able to write a good proposal.”

With the fellowship, Haake plans to pursue a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt University focused on wearable robotics, such as exoskeletons and lower-limb robotic prostheses.

“Because my funding is not tied to any particular adviser or grant funding, I have free rein to work on something that is interesting to me during graduate school,” he said.

After completing graduate school, Haake hopes to launch a career designing robotic devices to aid in rehabilitation.

“The broader impacts (of my research) will help people with mobility issues get around in a world that wasn’t necessarily designed for people like them,” he said.

Nebraska alumni Freddy Gonzalez and Olivia Pletcher, both of Lincoln, 2021; Lauren Lesiak of Lincoln, Rebecca Leuschen of Kansas City, Missouri, and Mark Nail of Leawood, Kansas, 2020; and Boqiang Tu of Beijing, 2015, also received NSF fellowships. Psychology doctoral student Olivia Checkalski of Appleton, Wisconsin; and alumni Rebecca Fitzgarrald of Omaha, 2020; and Cole Dempsey of Lincoln, 2019, were recognized with honorable mentions.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship program, the oldest graduate fellowship of its kind, helps ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforces its diversity. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. The fellowships provide the student with a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 and a $12,000 cost-of-education allowance, as well as access to opportunities for professional development.

At Nebraska, the Office of National and International Fellowships advises and nominates undergraduate candidates for 30 supported scholarships and fellowships. To learn more, students and campus community members should contact Courtney Santos, director of national and international fellowships, at courtney.santos@unl.edu.

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