Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award

Sarah E. Cleary, PhD G’18
Chemistry Graduate Program

Sarah was born and raised in the Burlington area, and was interested in science from a young age.  During her undergraduate studies at Bates College, she found her love for organic chemistry and completed her senior thesis on the topic.  Between undergrad and graduate school, she had an internship with Seventh Generation that gave her hands-on experience formulating household cleaning products using nontoxic ingredients made from renewable sources.  This ability to combine chemistry with sustainability influenced her goals for graduate school and beyond.

Sarah was an organic chemistry PhD student, and her work in Professor Matthias Brewer’s group focused on improving the efficiency and economy of organic chemical reactions. Specifically, Sarah helped to discover and develop a new method that forges carbon-carbon bonds in a way that minimizes energy and material input, as well as waste.  Since carbon-based molecules are present in all aspects of life, academia and industry regard it as essential to discover ways to produce these molecules in cheaper and cleaner ways.

Sarah is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oxford where she works with a renewable, recyclable, and biodegradable catalyst that promotes common organic chemistry reactions.  Her main objective is to bring this new technology up to an industrial scale, thus providing a green alternative to current chemical industry processes.

The Outstanding Doctoral Dissertation Award recognizes exceptional work on behalf of a doctoral student, as demonstrated by their dissertation, including significant contributions to their field of study.

Outstanding Master's Thesis Award

Lukas Adamowicz, G'19
Mechanical Engineering Graduate Program

Lukas Adamowicz grew up in Burlington, VT, and graduated from UVM in 2017 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering, after which he continued on for his MS in Mechanical Engineering, focusing on human biomechanics research. During his MS, Lukas helped Dr. Ryan McGinnis get his lab up and running and started several of the lab's research projects, which will provide data for many graduate and undergraduate students in novel works. Lukas has been an author on several conference papers, and given invited lectures in classes. He also has several papers in the process of being submitted. After receiving his MSME, Lukas will be working for the summer for Pfizer, developing novel methods for quantifying transitions in order to better quantify mobility and allow better informed decisions by health care through access to quantitative data.

Working under Dr. McGinnis, Lukas explored novel ways of utilizing quarter-sized inertial measurement units to estimate the angles of the hip joints, which allow for easier, cheaper, and faster diagnosis of mobility impairments. These improvements would enable earlier detection and intervention, improving treatment and prognosis for these debilitating diseases. The algorithms and data will also be shared as open-source, allowing others to utilize the data and algorithms developed easily for future work.

The Outstanding Master's Thesis Award recognizes exceptional work on behalf of a Master’s student, as demonstrated by their thesis, including significant contributions to their field of study.


Hannah Helme