Top Scholarships Go to Chau, Mohanty
01 July 2006
Kenneth Chau Receives SPIE D. J. Lovell Scholarship
Kenneth Chau, a graduate student at the University of Alberta's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), is this year's recipient of the D. J. Lovell Scholarship, the largest SPIE scholarship, worth $11,000.
Graduating with a doctorate in 2007, he also tutors, is the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Department representative of the Graduate Student Association, founding member of the university's SPIE student chapter, and vice president academic of the ECE Graduate Student Association (ECEGSA), through which he planned and coordinated a conference for ECEGSA students. In addition, he has published nine journal papers as of this summer, with 16 other conference papers or presentations under his belt.
"I enjoyed science growing up," says Chau. "I pursued a doctorate because I was curious about how things work. To me it seemed like a natural progression. I love the research and attacking different problems."
As an undergraduate, Chau worked on preventing micro-cracks in the process of micromachining glass and developed detectors for wax formation in oil pipelines. Currently, he is researching terahertz electromagnetic propagation in, and scattering from, mesoscopic, sub-wavelength-size materials.
"He is the first person who drew the analogy between photon propagation and electron transport in magnetic systems and managed to experimentally prove it," says his graduate advisor, Abdul Elezzabi.
"Ken is in the top one or two students of the approximately 300 graduate students whom I have interacted with," says Ying Yin Tsui, professor and associate chair of graduate studies at the University of Alberta.
Chau plans to use the scholarship money to attend more international conferences.
"In Canada, it's sort of a one-shot deal," Chau explains. "You have to apply and you get funding to only go to one conference [per year]. With this award, I can go to more conferences, which is great since here in Canada we're a little bit isolated."
Chau also received a $1500 SPIE scholarship award in 2004.
Khyati Mohanty Awarded Major SPIE Scholarship
Khyati Mohanty is a recent graduate of the Maharaja Sayjirao University of Baroda (Baroda, India) and is the 2006 recipient of the SPIE Scholarship in Optical Science and Engineering, worth $10,000. It is the second-largest scholarship given by the Society.
Though she majored in electrical engineering, Mohanty's real passion is biomedical optics. Her interest began while she was still in high school.
"My fascination turned into summer training at Medtronic Inc. and Baroda Heart Research Institute on cardiac electrophysiology," says Mohanty.
Her acute asthma unfortunately took a toll on her schooling, until biomedical optics stepped in.
"Dr. Nagpal, president of the Acupuncture Society of India (Jaipur, India), treated me with laser acupuncture treatment," explains Mohanty.
"It was a boon for me and now I am leading a normal healthy life with no problems."
Since then she has flourished as a researcher.
"Students and faculty often remark that Khyati is blessed with considerable talent and uncanny skills," says C. S. Narayanamurthy, professor of applied physics at M.S. University of Baroda. "In over 15 years of teaching, I haven't known any other students with talent equivalent to Khyati."
"Alongside her professional career," says K. Divakar Rao of the Center for Advanced Technology (Indora, India), "the most impressive thing about her is that she constantly wishes to improve herself in terms of knowledge and skill."
Being a woman researcher in India has also brought struggles.
"In giving opportunities such as remuneration for the work, equal chance, etc., a woman is second-preferred," says Mohanty. "Additionally there was always uncertainty about whether I would be able to pursue my career after marriage. But I was lucky as I got a very understanding hubby who has been more of an inspiration to me."
Mohanty will pursue her doctorate in biomedical optics in the United States. She will use the scholarship to pay for her schooling.
Beth Huetter, SPIE Staff Editor