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While Spring Commencement is on the horizon for the Class of 2019, the first wave of year-end celebrations has already begun for a special group of award-winning seniors at NJIT’s College of Science and Liberal Arts (CSLA). 

This month, an exclusive band of graduating students took to the stage at the 2019 CSLA Awards where they were recognized with the “2019 Outstanding Student Award” — an honor annually presented each spring to the year’s most exceptional student-researchers and academic achievers across the sciences and liberal arts fields at the college. 

Here, some of CSLA’s 2019 Outstanding Student seniors share their unique journeys at NJIT and their interests beyond — from building fish robots, to giving lectures on public health in Thailand, to researching police officer sleep patterns, to working trials for Passaic County Superior Court. 

Audrey Biondi ’19, M.S. in Biology​​​

Where did you grow up and what brought you to NJIT to start with?

I grew up in Nutley, New Jersey. I completed my undergraduate degree at Rutgers University-Newark in the Federated Biology Department where I was able to take classes on both the Rutgers and NJIT campuses. In 2016, I began working in Dr. Brooke Flammang’s lab at NJIT where I gained an invaluable research mentor who I knew I wanted to further my academic career with. In 2018, I began my master's at NJIT under her advisory.

What research or academic focus were you most involved in leading up to your 2019 CSLA Outstanding Student Award? 

My research focuses on the biomechanics and functional morphology of fishes. Specifically, I am studying the unique morphological characteristics of the Giant Ocean Sunfish to create a biologically inspired ocean robot.

Plans after graduation: 

After graduation, I will be heading to Prague to give a talk about Giant Ocean Sunfish ontogeny at the International Congress of Vertebrate Morphology. In September, I’ll begin my Ph.D. at NJIT to continue my work creating the ocean robot.

What will you take with you most from your time at NJIT?

NJIT has taught me the value of collaboration while solving complex problems, and has helped me grow as a researcher. Working in such a welcoming environment has given me the opportunity to work with advisors across other departments of CSLA and has allowed for unique integrative approaches that would not happen elsewhere.

Zackary Kellet, ’19, B.S. in Science, Technology and Society (STS)​

Where did you grow up and what brought you to NJIT to start with?

I grew up between South Brunswick and Milltown and attended the East Brunswick Vocational School for Theatre. It was there I found that I had a vested interest in both science and art — and found that the STS program at NJIT afforded me the opportunity to pursue research that incorporates the best parts of both!

What research or academic focus were you most involved in leading up to your 2019 CSLA Outstanding Student Award? 

I’ve been engaged in two research projects during my undergraduate studies. The first was surrounding the influence of police culture on officer sleep-patterns. The second explored the influence of culture, media and personal experience on symbolic interpretation and meaning-making, with a particular emphasis on serpents. In summary, I’m interested in how the narratives we weave into our culture shapes us, and how it is that we construct those narratives.

Plans after graduation: 

I’m happy to say I’ve been accepted to the federated program between Rutgers-Newark and NJIT to pursue my M.A. in History. I’m hoping to continue my work on cultural narratives, with aims on becoming a professor myself in the future!

What will you take with you most from your time at NJIT?

The most important skill I would say I picked up from my time at NJIT would be networking. If you talk about your interests to enough people, it’s amazing the amount of opportunities that will present themselves!

Worawit Intrchom, ’19, Ph.D. in Chemistry and Environmental Science​

Where did you grow up and what brought you to NJIT to start with?

I was born and brought up in Thailand, and as a child I always dreamt of pursuing higher education in the USA. During my master’s degree in Thailand, I had the opportunity to take courses with professors from NJIT, including my current advisor, Dr. Somenath Mitra. I'd heard from colleagues about NJIT’s worldwide recognition for research, cutting-edge facilities, along with its cultural diversity, which led to it being my top choice when I decided to pursue my Ph.D. in the U.S.

What research or academic focus were you most involved in leading up to your 2019 CSLA Outstanding Student Award? 

Freshwater is an important water resource in our water supply, but is becoming more contaminated and limited due to pollutants released from households and industries. My research explores ways to make seawater viable as an alternate clean water source by using a salt removal technique, called membrane distillation, to treat contaminated seawater before it is used. We've been successful in enhancing the efficiency of membrane distillation by using membranes coated with carbon nanotubes and other carbon-based nanomaterials.

Plans after graduation: 

I will go back to Thailand and apply my experiences acquired at NJIT at Naresuan University, which provided me with financial support during my Ph.D. work. There, I will work as a lecturer at the Faculty of Public Health and my goal is to focus on environmental health or environmental issues that affect human health, including water treatment using techniques like membrane distillation.

What will you take with you most from your time at NJIT?

At NJIT, I have made many friends — both faculty and students — from diverse cultural backgrounds. All of them have been kind and encouraging, and have helped me learn so much about different cultures while I’ve been here. My research advisor and research group have also been very supportive, giving me the opportunity to present our research on nanomaterials at national conferences and engage with researchers and students from all around the country, which has enhanced my networking skills. I firmly believe that these experiences at NJIT will be extremely useful in my future.

Andrew Edmonson, ’19, B.A. in History​

Where did you grow up and what led you to NJIT?

I grew up in East Brunswick, N.J. and I came to NJIT after hearing about the accelerated pre-law program at an open house while I was in high school. I always wanted to go to law school, and learning about a program where I could get relevant experience, potentially get financial aid and graduate early was like a dream come true. I met different NJIT faculty there, and they only made me want to come here more.

What research or academic focus were you most involved in leading up to your 2019 CSLA Outstanding Student Award? 

My focus has been in legal studies. While at NJIT, I also pursued law-related internships starting at Passaic County Superior Court as clerk to Judge Sohail Mohammed, where I gained practical experience filing sentencing reports, scheduling hearings and even sitting in on trials. I also interned at the New Jersey Law Revision Commission. The main project that I worked on there dealt with guardianship, and making sure that people with disabilities kept their rights.

Plans after graduation: 

I am now deciding between law schools, including the program at Rutgers-Newark. I am interested in becoming a public defender and law related to intellectual property.

What will you take with you most from your time at NJIT?

My time at NJIT taught me a lot. In class, I learned about relevant laws, court cases and other aspects that have helped prepare me for law school. My time on student senate also helped teach me about professionalism, getting involved and making friends outside the classroom.