SEAS Awards 2015 Graduate Prizes

Two outstanding Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science graduate students were honored by Dean T. Kyle Vanderlick at the annual Crest & Fest celebration on Wednesday, May 13, 2015.

Ngai Yin Yip, a recent Chemical & Environmental Engineering Ph.D. graduate, won the Henry Prentiss Becton Graduate Prize, awarded for exceptional achievement in research.

Nominated by the Department of Chemical & Environmental Engineering, Yip was noted "with no doubt as the most outstanding graduate student in our department in 20 years." The nomination noted that Yip excelled in all his graduate courses and had all of the attributes of a successful researcher. He was independent, creative, imaginative, and practiced good judgment in selecting research objectives.

Yip's research focused on the development of polymer membranes for forward osmosis and reverse osmosis. The research also included performance modeling of mass transport in membranes during pressure-retarded osmosis and an assessment of energy recovery in closed-loop osmosis processes.

During his five years at Yale, Yip discovered innovative techniques in his discipline where he published 20 high-quality journal articles and received one patent. He presented his work at numerous conferences and symposia and currently has over 1,000 citations of his work. In his nominating letter Yip's advisor, Professor Menachem Elimelech stated, "it is clear to me that Dr. Yip has many if not all the qualities that eventually come to characterize successful scientists." In addition to his scientific acumen, "he has a true talent for communicating science, whether in his manner of presenting data visually or in his description of the salient physical phenomena of his research."

Yip defended his dissertation last December and is now a postdoc at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. He begins a tenure-track faculty position in the Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering at Columbia University in July.

The second award, the Harding Bliss Prize, was awarded to graduating doctoral student Alyssa Siefert. The Bliss Prize recognizes a doctoral student who has done the most to further the intellectual life of the Yale School of Engineering & Applied Science.

Dean T. Kyle Vanderlick, Alyssa Siefert, and Siefert's advisor, Prof. Tarek Fahmy.

Siefert was noted not only in her field of study in biomedical engineering where she developed nanoparticles for vaccines, but also for her exceptional mentoring, teaching, and outreach initiatives that further graduate life in the School of Engineering.

As examples of her service, Siefert was noted as an outstanding Teaching Fellow in a number of SEAS courses, mentored eight undergraduate students, established a partnership with a New Haven science high school program, was active in the Yale Alumni Association's efforts to engage current graduate students in AYA activities, served as a McDougal Graduate Student Life Fellow, and has been a very active participant in the SEAS Advanced Graduate Leadership Program. Through these activities she created programs, events, and networks that advanced Yale, the School of Engineering & Applied Science, and the City of New Haven.

As part of the nomination for this award, faculty members, colleagues, and undergraduates that worked with Siefert expressed their admiration for her initiative, dedication, and energy to all her activities. In their nomination letter, a colleague of Siefert's commended her "ability to give 110% to every organization and event of which she is a part." A faculty member who had her as a teaching fellow applauded Siefert's "clarity of understanding the science and her ability to also understand the 'people' aspect of teaching make me fully confident that she will be an excellent university or college instructor and mentor. We need more future faculty like her!" Her advisor, Professor Tarek Fahmy, claimed that she "embodies what the Harding Bliss Prize aims to achieve" thanks to her dedication to others in the lab, outside the lab, and throughout our community.

After graduation, Siefert will continue at SEAS with a postdoctoral fellowship in biomedical engineering.