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Two Graduate Students Receive Presidential Fellowships

PhD candidates Thomas A. Berrueta and Jacob Kelter among six to earn University’s Presidential Fellowships

Northwestern Engineering’s Thomas A. Berrueta and Jacob Kelter are among six students to have received Presidential Fellowships, the most prestigious fellowship awarded to graduate students by Northwestern University.  

Thomas A. Berrueta (left) and Jacob Kelter

Presidential Fellowships are awarded annually to graduate students who are nominated by their academic programs. Fellows are chosen for their demonstrated record of outstanding academic achievement, promise as scholars, teachers, and researchers, and the ability to communicate the significance and impact of their research to a broad academic audience. Less than 12 percent of nominated students are appointed to the Fellowship. 

Presidential Fellowship recipients will take on a leadership role in the Society of Fellows, which will include representing their respective disciplines and the broader graduate community in gatherings and discussions throughout the year.  

Thomas A. Berrueta 

Berrueta is a PhD candidate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and a member of the Center for Robotics and Biosystems. Advised by Todd Murphey, professor of mechanical engineering, Berrueta’s research focuses on understanding and controlling complex systems. By bringing together insights from artificial intelligence, statistical physics, and chemical engineering, he seeks to make engineered systems more life-like by embracing randomness and disorder. In his dissertation, Berrueta presented a novel framework from which imprecise and messy artificial elements can produce reliable and controllable emergent outcomes, with potential applications including self-healing cement for buildings, minimally invasive microrobotic insulin delivery, and aerosolizable sensors.

Jacob Kelter 

Kelter is a PhD candidate in the joint Computer Science and Learning Sciences Program through the School of Education and Social Policy and the McCormick School of Engineering. His research interests are in creating and studying computational tools for making sense of complexity in the world. His dissertation research focuses on using computational modeling in science education, currently in the context of materials science and engineering. His work includes redesigning the introductory materials science and engineering course to make central use of computational agent-based modeling and studying the effects of the redesign on student learning and understanding of complex phenomena.