Dual-major BMES scholarship recipient takes goal-oriented approach to academics and research
The value of scholarships is not limited to the financial relief they provide. They empower students to focus on the future and reap the benefits of a first-class education. Third-year College of Engineering student Alena Jalics, the recipient of a newly-established scholarship from the Wayne State University chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society, is holding up her end of the bargain by pursuing transformative research opportunities that align with her career goals.
Jalics is a double major in biomedical and mechanical engineering. She added the latter to gain a greater understanding of fluid and dynamic mechanics, consistent with her plan to work for NASA on bioengineering projects related to atmosphere revitalization, biofuels, renewable energy or water recovery. Her interest in NASA, and research in engineering generally, traces back to her childhood.
“My grandpa was an engineer and he loved space,” said Jalics. “We used to talk about any new achievements or discoveries that NASA was working on together.”
It comes as no surprise that a student enrolled in two distinct fields of study would be drawn to interdisciplinary research. Jalics held a position in the Richard Barber Summer Research Program, which brings together researchers from across the university to collaborate on projects that intersect physics, biology and medicine. She worked with Ashis Mukhopadhyay, associate professor of physics, on creating crystalline domes using nanoparticles within complex fluids.
“We would use a temperature controller and a confocal microscope to take images of the domes,” said Jalics. “I would do the image and data processing for the lab, so I wrote code to measure the radial distribution of the particles, the size of the domes and the distances between the particles as function of time or temperature.”
Reflecting on the academic side of her Wayne State experience, Jalics cited ME 2500: Numerical Methods using MATLAB with Professor Chin-An Tan as a course that presented the most significant challenge to her engineering skills.
“My professor really focuses on critical thinking and the thought processes involved in the engineering approach,” said Jalics. “His class problems are always based on real-life applications and how problem-solving is important for a future career in engineering.”
Jalics has consistently earned Dean’s List designation for maintaining a term GPA of 3.5 or better, and has been active in BMES general body meetings as well as industry and research panels.
The BMES award is the latest addition in a series of scholarships Jalics has earned. She has received past support from Utica Community Schools, the Community Choice Credit Union Foundation and the Wayne State University College of Engineering.
“They were all very important to my academic pursuits because the support helped me afford to live on campus and pay for some of my tuition during my first years of college,” said Jalics.