Biophysics student wins NSF Graduate Fellowship

Wake Forest University students work in a science lab

Wake Forest University senior Katrina Barth, a biophysics major from Raleigh, N.C., researching flexible and more effective neural implants, has received a graduate fellowship from the National Science Foundation. The Foundation’s grant will cover Barth’s graduate school tuition and will include a stipend for other expenses. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering.

Two Wake Forest alumni, Morgan Burt (’15) of Alpharetta, Ga., and Andrea Becker (’16) of Nashville, Tenn., were also among the recipients in the competitive program, which awarded grants to only one of every six applicants. Mallory Kidwell (’14) of Salt Lake City, Utah, was an honorable-mention selection.

Barth and her faculty mentor, Oana Jurchescu, are among several Wake Forest students and faculty researching the promising field of organic electronics. Many currently implanted devices are made of silicon, a hard, inflexible substance. Implants made of organic materials could be better suited to human benefit because they may facilitate the transmission of signals that warn a patient of imminent danger such as a seizure, for example.

Barth became interested in the subject after taking a first-year physics class with Jurchescu, who brought Barth into the lab and paired her with a graduate student, Zach Lamport (PHD ’18).

“The mentorship from both Zach and Dr. Jurchescu has been hugely impactful,” Barth said. “Dr. Jurchescu’s advice and guidance on graduate school and fellowships, both by encouragement to apply and assistance on writing the applications, is something I appreciate greatly.”

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