Five  graduate students at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science — Zachary Ballard, Kelly Connelly, Kenneth Gutierrez, Ariella Machness and Adam Martin — and two alumni at other institutions — Sara Achour and Erik Jue — have received the prestigious Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation.

The fellowship program, which offers three years of financial support, “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 United States institutions.”


Sara Achour ’13 (computer science and computational biology)
Field: Computer systems and embedded systems
Current graduate institution: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Research interests: Programming languages and systems for unreliable and approximate hardware. Other interests include software engineering, program analysis and security.
MIT faculty advisor: Martin Rinard
UCLA undergraduate advisor: Jens Palsberg
 NSF Sara
Zachary Ballard
Field: Electrical engineering
Research interests: Bio-sensing and imaging with flexible plasmonic nano-structures for point-of-care diagnostics.
Faculty advisor: Aydogan Ozcan
Undergraduate institution: Brown University
NSF Zachary
Kelly Connelly
Field: Mechanical engineering
Research interests: In-situ characterization of the eye’s vitreous humor, the gel between the lens and retina, using rheological methods to quantify its viscoelastic behavior.
Faculty advisor: Pirouz Kavehpour
Undergraduate institution: University of Washington
 NSF Kelly
Kenneth Gutierrez
Field: Mechanical engineering
Research interests: Artificial haptic intelligence for sensorized robotic and prosthetic hands.
Faculty advisor: Veronica Santos
Undergraduate institution: UC Irvine
 NSF Kenneth
Erik Jue ’14 (bioengineering)
Field: Chemical engineering
Current graduate Institution: California Institute of Technology
Research focus: Diagnostic devices for low-resource settings
Caltech faculty advisor: Rustem Ismagilov
UCLA faculty advisor: Daniel T. Kamei
 NSF Erik
Ariella Machness ’14 (chemistry and materials science)
Field: Materials science
Research focus:Develop mesoporous silicon structures for demonstration in drug delivery and thin film solar cell applications.
Faculty advisor: Mark Goorsky
 NSF Ariella
Adam Martin
Field: Mechanical engineering
Research focus: Novel thermal energy storage to further improve current renewable energy technologies.
Faculty advisor: Richard Wirz
Undergraduate institution: UC Merced
 NSF Adam