Meet some of our 2021-2022 winners


Blakemore Freeman Fellowship

Connor Wilson

Connor Wilson is a 1st year graduate student in the School of Computing and Information. In 2022, he won the Blakemore Freeman Fellowship to study Japanese in Japan at Stanford University's Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies. He graduated from Pitt in 2021 with a dual degree in Information Science and Japanese. Read more about Connor here.

Erasmus Mundus

Tate Yawitz

Tate Yawitz graduated from Pitt in May 2021 where he double majored in biological sciences and philosophy while minoring in chemistry. His love for scientific research began in Dr. Kevin Kohl’s lab where he researched how the environment impacts digestive physiology in rodents.  

In his sophomore year, he won an NSF summer undergraduate research award to do scorpion research at the California Academy of Sciences. Tate is most passionate about ecology and evolutionary biology, which is something he realized through coursework in Animal Behavior, Urban Ecology, and Population Biology among others. He is currently a research and development scientist at a biopharmaceutical company where he designs experiments to characterize and identify applications for a novel anti-inflammatory drug.

Tate will be attending the Erasmus Mundus Master Program in Evolutionary Biology, a 2-year program that allows him to spend each semester at different European university, while also having the option to conclude his studies at Harvard University.

Tate’s passion for science also led him to create Big Science for Little Scientists, where he translates scientific publications into children's stories in his free time. 

Churchill and NSF GRFP

Asher Hancock

Asher Hancock is a senior mechanical engineering student. Hancock works in the labs of Matthew Barry and Albert To, Assistant Professor and William Kepler Whiteford Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science, respectively. In these labs, he conducts research in the development of efficient computational methods for solving engineering problems related to heat transfer and topology optimization. Previously, he worked in the lab of Paul Leu, Associate Professor in the Department of Industrial Engineering, where he developed numerical simulations to study advanced materials in photovoltaics. 

Hancock has published a first-author publication in Energy and has presented his research at two conferences. He is a member of Sigma Xi (The Scientific Research Honor Society), a Goldwater Scholar (“the most prestigious undergraduate scholarship in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering in America”), and a two-time honorable mention for the Distinguished Undergraduate Award from the Universities Space Research Association (a prestigious scholarship for those who demonstrated aptitude and leadership in aerospace research). 

Outside of research, Hancock has been involved in several professional pursuits. Hancock was an engineering Peer Advisor in 2018. He completed a mechanical design internship with Collins Aerospace in 2019 and has served as Pitt Aerospace Society of Automotive Engineering's Chief Wing Engineer for two years. Hancock also was a Pathways Engineering Intern at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center from 2020-2021. Here, he performed structural analyses on the Mars Ascent Vehicle and Space Launch System, developed computational frameworks for guiding and controlling formation-flying robots, and supported mission analysis efforts within the Advanced Concepts Office. Read more about Asher here!


Boris Mesits

Boris is a graduate student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy who works in experimental quantum computing under Dr. Michael Hatridge. As an undergraduate at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Boris developed an earth-field nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometer under the guidance of Dr. Tamara Branca. Although he now studies quantum parametric amplifiers, he hopes to incorporate some aspects of magnetic resonance in his new research. His NSF-funded project will take advantage of the flux sensitivity of quantum amplifiers, which can be operated as ultra-high sensitivity magnetometers. This useful property will be used in a cross-disciplinary collaboration with chemistry department to study the molecular structure of proteins.

Jazlyn Gallego

Jazlyn Gallego graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington and is now a 2nd year Ph.D. student in Biomedical Engineering studying under Dr. Takashi Kozai. Her current research interests are neural-tissue interface and the role of glial cells, specifically microglia cells, within major depressive disorder. Her hope is to find alternative clinical therapies and understand more about the root cause of depression. Jazlyn recently presented her work at the Gordon Research Conference and is currently working on a microglia review publication.

Tessa Rhinehart

Tessa Rhinehart is a first-year PhD student in Justin Kitzes’s lab in the Department of Biological Sciences. Her research interests involve assessing how conservation actions can restore declining wildlife populations. Over several years as a computer programmer in the Kitzes Lab, she developed methods for surveying sound-producing animals using autonomous recorders, machine learning algorithms, and statistical modeling. Her current research includes understanding how diverse forest management and restoration practices impact avian diversity in forests of the eastern United States. Prior to her work in the Kitzes Lab, she studied mathematics and biology at Swarthmore College. Outside of her academic work, she is an avid birdwatcher, enjoys natural history journaling, and serves as the secretary for the Pennsylvania Ornithological Records Committee.

Eric Jordahl

Eric Jordahl is a Senior double major in Molecular Biology and Classic Civilizations at the University of Pittsburgh. He has been doing research in the O’Donnell Lab in the Department of Biological Sciences for 3 years, studying the protein trafficking adaptor family, the a-arrestins. After graduation, Eric will be pursuing a PhD in Cell Biology from the University of California – San Diego, hoping to go on to become faculty member at an academic institution with both research and teaching roles.


Peter Martin

Peter Martin is a graduating senior with a double major in Economics (BS) and Politic & Philosophy (BA), minors in Japanese and Linguistics, and a German certificate. In the coming year, Peter will serve as a cultural ambassador for the US abroad with the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program (CBYX) as he spends the next year living, studying, working in Germany. He has a keen interest for sustainable development and environmental policy and hopes to further hone his professional career towards these endeavors while in Germany.  His time at Pitt prepared him well for being a competitive candidate for the CBYX, which only selects around 75 participants to send to Germany each year. Although he felt that his time here passed by far too fast, Peter cannot wait to embark on this life-changing adventure in the next phase of his career. Read more about Peter here.

Critical Language Scholarship

Nathaniel Aaron

Nathaniel is a current junior in the Dietrich school where he is pursuing a dual majoring in Chinese & Emergency Medicine. He is near completion of his Paramedic program. His long-term goal is to become an ER Physician and work overseas in some capacity. This summer, he will complete the CLS in Taipei, Taiwan at Tamkang University.

Zachary Warlow

Zachary Warlow is currently a transfer student at the University of Pittsburgh.  His major is Russian Studies with a minor in Political Science. His main interest is early Soviet politics and economics.  He currently holds a B.A. in Psychology and a M.S. in Psychological Sciences, and prior to returning to school spent 6 years working as a program manager serving homeless Veterans. He has recently been awarded the CLS scholarship, and this summer will be studying the Russian language in Tbilisi, Georgia. He is looking forward to developing his language skills and representing the University of Pittsburgh!


Kush Batra

Kush Batra is a second-year neuroscience major that plans on graduating in three years and matriculating into medical school. His DAAD RISE award will bring him to Rostock, Germany this summer, where he will be working on a neurobiology farm researching the cognitive capacity of goats, pigs, and cows to improve farm animal welfare and husbandry techniques. "

Heather Phillips

Heather Phillips is Engineering Physics student minoring in nanotechnology, physics, and electrical engineering. She has experience in nanotechnology research and in sampling and surveying water quality with the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality  and a project on determining the functionality of bulk metallic glass for electricity generation in bioelectrochemical fuel systems. Heather will be heading to the University of Hamburg to do research on Thermally-driven Area-Selective Atomic Layer Deposition.


Meghan Orman

Meghan is a third-year PhD student of Applied Developmental Psychology studying under Dr. Shannon Wanless in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. Her current research interests are in the development of nature connection (NC) in early childhood and the implications of NC for basic and applied research in psychology and education. Her broader lifelong interests are in the philosophy of science and education, systems thinking, community ecology/psychology, and (as a hobby) entomology.

Diana Flatto

Diana Flatto’s research examines art and politics of the Americas in the twentieth century. Her current work explores how realisms were used by antifascist artist networks between Argentina, Uruguay, and Europe during the 1930s and 1940s, including the organization of exhibitions and the circulation of images in culture magazines. This work builds upon her M.A. thesis completed at Hunter College, which studied gender and politics in the visual language of Argentine artist Raquel Forner’s paintings from 1936-46. 

Diana joined the History of Art & Architecture department in 2020 following three years as Assistant Curator at Americas Society. There, she co-curated and assisted on exhibitions of modern and contemporary art of the Americas including Joaquín Orellana: The Spine of Music and Alice Miceli: Projeto Chernobyl. She also hosted a series of interviews with contemporary artists such as Gala Porras-Kim and Rafael Soldi as part of Americas Society’s In the Studio program. Prior to this, she worked for several years as a prints & drawings specialist at Swann Auction Galleries, developing an interest and expertise in printed media that she brings to her current research.

Karenna Oner

Karenna graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2021, with degrees in Political Science and English, a minor in Turkish, and certificates in Global Studies and Eurasian Studies. While at Pitt, Karenna was a recipient of the Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship, Critical Language Scholarship (Turkish '19), and Boren Scholarship (Turkish '19-'20). As a first-generation American raised in a Colombian and Turkish household, Karenna is passionate about international affairs and human security. Karenna currently works as a Refugee Caseworker at the International Rescue Committee, and aspires to continue working with conflict-affected populations during and after the Fulbright Scholarship.

Bobby Blankemeyer

Bobby Blankemeyer is a graduating senior at Pitt, majoring in German and Communication/Rhetoric with a minor in Education. An active member of the a cappella community, Bobby is currently in two groups, Pitch Please and Pitches&Tones. Bobby was chosen as a finalist for a Fulbright grant to Germany as an English Teaching Assistant (ETA). He will be spending a year working in a German school, serving as both a teacher and a cultural ambassador, answering students’ questions about the English language and American culture. Read more about Bobby here.

Lauren Towner

Lauren graduated in 2021 with a BA in German with Honors, a BS in Ecology, and a Chemistry minor. She has since been working at the German American Chamber of Commerce and teaching ESL at a local community college. As a Fulbright ETA in Germany, Lauren is looking forward to sharing her passion for second language acquisition. Read more about Lauren here.

Marshall Scholarship

Maja Lynn

Maja Lynn is an anthropology and museum studies senior and the 11th Pitt student to receive the highly competitive Marshall Scholarship, which funds graduate study in the United Kingdom. From volunteering at a memorial site for a concentration camp to creating a memorial after the Tree of Life shooting in Pittsburgh, Maja works to recognize and preserve the memory of atrocities.  She will pursue a Master of Arts in Conflict Transformation and Social Justice at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland, in a city that hasn’t fully recovered from the scars of conflict that occurred just decades ago. Read more about Maja here.

Schwarzman Scholar Award

Joseph Kannarkat

Joseph Kannarkat graduated from Pitt in 2018 with double majors in Neuroscience and Economics and is now a third-year medical student at University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.  From 2018-19 he held the Churchill-Kanders Scholarship at Cambridge University, where he completed a Masters in Public Policy.  As part of that program, he explored his interests in the connections between health and finance policy and also spent eight weeks carrying out research in Kenya.  He will now complete a Masters in Global Affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China as part of the highly selective Schwarzman Scholarship. Read more about Joseph here.

Newman Civic Fellowship

Nina Mennies

Nina is a rising senior at the Dietrich school majoring in Urban Studies with minors in Economics and Applied Statistics. Her primary area of interest is food insecurity, and she is currently working towards defending a BPhil that addresses the organizational and financial structures of Pittsburgh’s food aid services. She plans to pursue a graduate degree in Public Health with a concentration in Nutrition, and hopes to help shape public policy that prioritizes food access and equity. Read more about Nina here.