2013 UCLA Engineering Commencement Student Awards

Jun 11, 2013

By UCLA Samueli Newsroom

By Matthew Chin

Several students at the UCLA Henry Sameuli School of Engineering and Applied Science have been honored with school-wide and department awards for 2013. Below, a few profiles of this year’s school-wide winners, including Jaideep Dudani, the Outstanding Bachelor of Science Award winner; Regan F. Patterson, the Student Commencement Speaker and the undergraduate winner of the Harry M. Showman Prize; Xue Gao, the doctoral student winner of the Harry M. Showman Prize; and Paricha Duangtaweesub, the Russell R. O’Neill Distinguished Service Award winner. Also profiled is this year’s National Anthem singer, Chauncey Isom, academic counselor in the Office of Academic and Student Affairs. The school-wide awards were selected by a combination of committees comprised of students, faculty, and staff.

The school-wide outstanding Bachelor of Science Award recognizes an exceptional student who has demonstrated the highest accomplishments in the classroom, research, and in community service.

Dudani 2013Jaideep Dudani
, B.S. Bioengineering
Dudani received a graduate research fellowship from the National Science Foundation and was a 2012 Goldwater Scholar. He conducted research in the lab of bioengineering associate professor Dino Di Carlo on “miniaturized systems for high-throughput preparation and analysis of cancer cells.”
Dudani is going to pursue a Ph.D. in biological engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

What was your favorite class, and why?
My favorite class was Bioengineering 120 (Biomedical Instrumentation) taught by Professor Jacob Schmidt. It was a unique class that bridged fundamentals and applications. We learned a broad range of fundamentals in electronics and optics and were able to apply this knowledge to understand a whole suite of technologies of relevance to Bioengineering, such as the operations of Coulter counting to computed tomography and PET (positron emission tomography) Imaging. As someone who is extremely interested in applying engineering principles and techniques to biological systems, this class was extremely exciting.

Most memorable UCLA experience?
I think my most memorable UCLA experience was one of the earliest: visiting for the Engineering Open House with my family. It was during this time that I sat in Royce Hall listening to the various professors and students speak that I became excited about being a Bruin. Subsequently, during the Bioengineering open house, I got a glimpse into what my time at UCLA could possibly hold.
All that combined with what was a truly beautiful day was a great way to start off all my memories of UCLA.

Best part of being a student at UCLA?
Open access to an incredible number of resources. Obviously UCLA is an incredibly strong place for essentially everything, but what is most important is that as a student you have access to all of it. Access to world-class faculty, world-class facilities, and world-class students makes UCLA incredible. The most amazing part of all of it, however, is the range of students that UCLA fosters. This makes the experience so rich and powerful beyond anything that can be conveyed in a lecture.

The student speaker represents all 2012 graduates at commencement and is selected through a competitive process.

Patterson 2013Regan F. Patterson, B.S. Chemical Engineering
Patterson is the 2013 student speaker, and the undergraduate winner of the 2013 Harry M. Showman Prize. She was a National Institutes of Health Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) researcher in the lab of Yifang Zhu, a UCLA professor of environmental health sciences. Her research aimed to examine the particle deposition in the respiratory tract of school children in different microenvironments. She also began to look at the effect of race on lung deposition while at Peking University (PKU) as a participant in the Joint Research Institute in Science and Engineering between UCLA and PKU. Patterson was also a member of the National Society of Black Engineers, including being a tutor, and participated in outreach programs to students from groups underrepresented in engineering.
Patterson is headed to UC Berkeley in the M.S./Ph.D. program in environmental engineering.

What was your favorite class, and why?
My favorite class was the chemical engineering senior design course. The purpose of what we learn is application, so it was great working on a project. I was able to work with friends on an amazing team. It was definitely a test of both hard and soft skills.

For your remarks, is there anything in particular that you’re going to focus on?
My commencement speech acknowledges the unique position of engineers to make society better and focuses on our obligation as graduates to use our education to give back.

What was your most memorable UCLA experience?
I honestly cannot think of one most memorable UCLA experience. I have participated in amazing organizations and programs, such as the Center for Excellence in Engineering and Diversity (CEED) and MARC. I have traveled abroad to Switzerland and China. I have gone to many conferences, including one in Toronto, Canada. I have met amazing people. Altogether, my time at UCLA has been a transformative experience.

What was the best part of being a student at UCLA?

The best part of being a student at UCLA is the support the school provides in developing its students. If you take advantage of all of the different organizations and programs UCLA has to offer, whether they are professional, cultural, social or service, your experience can be one of the most humbling and inspiring experiences of your life.

2013 HARRY M. SHOWMAN PRIZE doctoral student
The Showman Prize is awarded to one undergraduate and one graduate student. The prize recognizes students who have effectively communicated the achievements, research, results or social significance of any aspect of engineering.

Gao 2013Xue Gao, Ph.D. Chemical Engineering
Gao’s doctoral research focused on the investigation and engineering of fungal natural product biosynthesis. Natural products from filamentous fungi are extremely important sources of bioactive and structurally diverse compounds for agricultural and pharmaceutical applications. In the fall, Gao will be a post-doctoral scholar at Harvard University, in the lab of David R. Liu, professor of chemistry and chemical biology.

What did you enjoy the most about research at UCLA Engineering?
The greatest part of performing research at UCLA Engineering is not only that the faculty members are so knowledgeable, or that a variety of equipment and resources on campus can be accessed, but also because I was given so many opportunities to establish collaborations with other brilliant scientists in different fields.

What is the best part of being a graduate student at UCLA?
Being a graduate student at UCLA is the most exciting and joyful experience of my life. I learned experiment skills and techniques, as well as expanded my critical thinking and expertise. Also, I made so many friends at UCLA, and we shared all the happiness and went through a lot of difficulties together. Very importantly, Los Angeles is such a pleasant place to stay and I really enjoy the nice and bright sunshine here every day.

Your most memorable UCLA moment?
I clearly remember the moment that I was waiting outside for the decision of proceeding toward Ph.D. candidacy, and then my committee members shook hands firmly with me and announced that I passed. It was very encouraging and gave me a lot of confidence to continue my research work.

Named after the former engineering school dean, the award recognizes outstanding contributions to the undergraduate student body, student organizations, the school, and to the advancement of the undergraduate engineering program through service and participation in extracurricular activities.

Duangtaweesub 2013Paricha Duangtaweesub, B.S. Chemical Engineering
Duangtaweesub led the new UCLA Engineering Ambassador Program, where undergraduate students hosted visitors on engineering-specific tours and visited high schools. Duangtaweesub was involved in several organizations, including leadership roles in Triangle Fraternity and AiChE; and membership in Thai Smakom, UCLA’s Thai cultural student group. He also conducted undergraduate research as an intern at the Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory (EECL) at Colorado State University (CSU); and in a lab in the UCLA Chemistry and Biochemistry Department.
In the fall, Duangtaweesub will attend Stanford University to pursue a master’s degree in chemical engineering. He is interested in a career in industry with a long-term goal of making meaningful contributions to the field of energy in his home country of Thailand.

What was your favorite class, and why?

ChE C116 – Surface and Interface Engineering. The class size is smaller than most other engineering classes so I get a lot of facetime with Professor (Robert) Hicks. I learned a lot about the applications of chemical engineering in the field of materials science and really enjoyed the class content. Professor Hicks also gave me valuable advice on graduate school and future career as chemical engineer.

Most memorable UCLA experience?
Hard to say. Late night group study sessions are memorable for how I get to bond with people in my classes. Volunteering at the 2012 Engineering Awards Dinner and listening to successful engineers speak was a great motivation for the future, as well.

Best part of being a student at UCLA?
The diversity amongst the student body, the enthusiasm of everyone around me to work hard and play hard, and the endless opportunities for everybody to do anything. I like the young spirit of the general UCLA student body to go out and achieve what they want to achieve.


Chauncey 2013Chauncey Isom ’87 (English)
Isom is an academic counselor in the Office of Student and Academic Affairs. He also sang the anthem at the 2004 UCLA Engineering commencement.

What’s your favorite song to sing and why?
“If I Sing” from the musical, “Closer Than Ever.” This is because whenever I’ve sung this song live, I’ve received great feedback from the audience about it.

What is best part of being an academic counselor in engineering  here at UCLA?
The best part is seeing the development of often shy, introverted students into confident and outgoing graduates.

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