Five Columbia EE Students and Alumnus Receive NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Five Columbia EE students and an Alumnus were recently recognized with the highly prized graduate research fellowships from the National Science Foundation. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based master's and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions. 

Our NSF Graduate Research fellows are:

Saarthak Sarup (SEAS '18) is currently a Ph.D. Candidate at Stanford University. During his time at Columbia, he worked with Professor Mingoo Seok of the Electrical Engineering Department developing robust algorithms for neural-inspired memory systems. This interdisciplinary research was supplemented with academic guidance from Professor Aurel Lazar, and has continued during ongoing Saarthak's doctoral work. At Stanford, Saarthak works with Dr. Kwabena Boahen on developing learning algorithms for neuromorphic hardware. He has received fellowships from the Center for Mind, Brain, Computation, and Technology, as well as the National Science Foundation to rethink the opportunities for synaptic and dendritic computation in ultra-low power AI accelerators.


Haley So majored in electrical engineering, focusing on the Solid-state/Photonics track. At Columbia, she researched under Professor Keren Bergman in her Lightwave Research Lab. She spent summers at Sandia National Labs and the Institute for Quantum Computing. These experiences encouraged her to pursue research focusing within the field of photonics for a wide array of applications, from the medical field to quantum computing.

Haley has been involved in Women in Computer Science during her four years at Columbia and recently finished serving as the 2019-2020 President. So used to dance in a pre-professional ballet company and is now a dancer in NuDance, a contemporary dance group on campus. In her free time, she also paints and cartoons and was featured as one of the Columbia CSArtists. 


Patricia Jastrzebska-Perfect will be graduating in May with a BS in Electrical Engineering. Her research in Professor Dion Khodagholy's Translational Neuroelectronics Lab has focused on designing new materials and devices for bioelectronics, particularly those displaying mixed ionic-electronic conduction. At Columbia, Patricia regularly engaged in engineering outreach through Robogals, a student organization focused on introducing elementary and middle-school students to robotics. She was named a 2020 Gates Cambridge Scholar.

Patricia will start her PhD in Electrical Engineering at MIT in Fall 2020 as an Alan L. McWhorter Fellow.



William Meng is a senior studying Electrical Engineering at Columbia University. As an NSF fellow, he plans to conduct research on integrated bioelectronic systems and neural interfaces. During his first two years at Columbia, he worked in Professor Hod Lipson's Creative Machines Lab to develop a low-cost, open-source ultrasound system. Since then, he has worked in Professor Ken Shepard's Bioelectronic Systems Lab to develop single-photon imaging chips for neural imaging applications, and co-authored a paper that won the Silver award at the Biomedical Circuits and Systems (BioCAS) conference. Outside of the lab, he has been involved in activities such as mentoring students in the makerspace, organizing a hardware hackathon, and developing course curriculum as a lab assistant.

In the fall, he will start his PhD studies in Electrical Engineering. Additionally, he will be interning at Astranis this summer to develop low-cost satellite hardware for expanding internet access around the world.


Adina Bechhofer is currently a senior in SEAS studying electrical engineering. As a combined plan student, she attended Queens College where she studied applied math and physics prior to joining Columbia. She works with Professor James Teherani in the EE department on modeling electrostatic screening and scattering effects in 2D semiconductors. In the of fall 2020, she will be starting her PhD in electrical engineering during which she plans to work on optimization and learning methods for nano electronic devices. She is also a member of Phi Beta Kappa. 




Kevin Kam received his BS degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa in 2017 and his MS degree from Columbia University in 2020. His award was for a joint project between Professor John Kymissis in EE and Professor Dumitriu in the pediatrics department. The project is for implantable wireless telemetry systems for biopotential monitoring in wild rats. His other research projects have been in the effects of aging in organic light emitting diode (OLED) large area displays.




Since 1952, NSF has funded over 50,000 Graduate Research Fellowships out of more than 500,000 applicants. Currently, 42 Fellows have gone on to become Nobel laureates, and more than 450 have become members of the National Academy of Sciences.  In addition, the Graduate Research Fellowship Program has a high rate of doctorate degree completion, with more than 70 percent of students completing their doctorates within 11 years.

By: Eliese Lissner

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