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Connor Eck, Senior in Applied Math and Creative Writing, Wins Gotaas Award

From left to right, Associate Professor Erik Luijten, 2012 Gotass Award winner Connor Eck, and Associate Dean Stephen Carr

Connor Eck, a Northwestern senior double-majoring in applied mathematics and creative writing, has won the 2012 Harold B. Gotaas Undergraduate Research Award from the McCormick School of Engineering.

The award, named in honor of McCormick’s third dean, is given annually to the senior who presents the best research paper in the competition.

Eck’s presentation — “Free-Energy Calculations of Helical Janus Clusters Using Expanded Ensemble Density of States Monte Carlo Simulations” — described how free energy calculations may be used to understand the interplay between kinetic and thermodynamic factors at the mechanistic level on systems of Janus spheres.

The work was conducted in the Computational Soft Matter Lab with Erik Luijten, associate professor of materials science and engineering and engineering sciences and applied mathematics.

“This is Connor's second project since he has started working in my research group as a sophomore, and it has been a pleasure to see him mature scientifically over this period. In fact, I often find myself forgetting that he is not a graduate student!” Luijten wrote in his letter of support, adding than Eck is “an example for his peers.”

The competition was held Wednesday, May 16, in Cohen Commons on the fourth floor of the Technological Institute.

Associate Professor Lincoln Lauhon, Gotaas Award runner-up Aaron Holsteen, and Associate Dean CarrThe runner-up for the 2012 Gotaas Award was Aaron Holsteen (materials science and engineering), who worked in the lab of Lincoln Lauhon, for his presentation, “Intrinsic and Extrinsic Mechanical Dissipation within Vanadium Oxide Nanomechanical Resonators around the MIT Transition via Fiber Polarization-Dependent Interferometry.”

Other finalists included:

  • Andrew Kessler (mechanical engineering), who worked in the lab of Kevin Lynch, for his presentation, “Effect of Time Delay on Morse Potential Swarm Stability.”

  • Yoke Peng Leong (mechanical engineering) who worked in the lab of Todd Murphey, for her presentation, “Surface Feature Detection Based on Proprioception.”