Honors College Students Make It to the Summit

Written by: Julie Jacobs,
Dorman Scholars Katherine Cicala (left) and Katrina David were selected to present their research poster at the 2017 Global Grand Challenges Summit.

Only 49 undergraduate research posters were selected from schools in the United States, United Kingdom and China for presentation at the Global Grand Challenges Summit, and three of them spotlighted the work of Albert Dorman Honors College students. Alumna Sahitya Allam ’17 and current Dorman Scholars Katherine Cicala ’19 and Katrina David ’19, all biomedical engineering majors, shared their work with conference attendees at the event, held July 19 in Washington, D.C. Honors College alum John Palmieri, who graduated this past May, also with a bachelor’s in biomedical engineering, had his research accepted for presentation as well.

In 2008, the U.S. National Academy of Engineering (NAE) selected 14 “Grand Challenges for Engineering” as a way to focus the most progressive engineering minds on critical problems facing mankind in the 21st century: sustainability, health and security to name just a few. The annual summit highlights proposed solutions in an effort “to inspire the next generation of engineers, policymakers and the public.” Students interested in participating had to submit their research abstracts earlier this year; presenters were chosen through a competitive, peer-reviewed selection process.

Allam, now a medical student at the University of Virginia, spoke about “Engineering a Novel Electrically Conducting Nerve Growth Conduit for Accelerated Peripheral Nerve Regeneration.” Cicala and David — whose adviser Paulo Pinho, M.D., is a 1996 graduate of the Honors College and NJIT and serves on the college’s Board of Visitors — presented “Individualized Medicine: Healthcare of the Future.” Palmieri’s research centered on “A Mechanical Model of Microtubule Instability: A Tool for Drug Discovery.”

Alumna Sahitya Allam's research poster was one of three from among Honors College students chosen for presentation.

Both Cicala and David are thankful to have attended. “I found the summit to be an incredibly enlightening experience. We had the opportunity to interact with students our own age who are making a difference in the world, as well as professionals who are changing the way we approach technology and health care,” said Cicala. Added David, “Seeing so many like-minded people motivated by the goal of improving the world through innovation was incredibly inspiring, and I know I will carry the experience for the duration of my college and professional careers.”

NAE, which counts Honors College namesake Albert Dorman ’45 ’99 HON as a member, co-sponsored the event with the U.K. Royal Academy of Engineering and the Chinese Academy of Engineering.