Category Archives: College Life

SLC Scholarship Recipients 2016

Every year CIAN recognizes students showing exceptional leadership and involvement in all aspects of CIAN in pursuit of the Engineer of 2020 attributes.

Everything a CIAN student does throughout the year is considered in his or her application for this scholarship, from outreach to publications and much more. Each student selected for the scholarship receives $500. Every student in CIAN is highly encouraged to apply whether he or she is more active in research, outreach, or both–the application recognizes many activities.

CIAN recognizes the follow students for their participation, leadership, and dedication to in Year 8.


Feibien Cheah

Undergraduate, University of Arizona

To be a CIAN student, it means that one cares about the development of STEM in the community and is passionate about making the internet faster and cheaper for the future. Being a CIAN student made me a better engineer by teaching me the skills to problem solve in lab and to have the people and presentation skills while doing outreach. CIAN has been a big part of my college experience as I have gained many valuable experiences from being active in the CIAN community.

jilianJilian Nguyen

Undergraduate, University of Arizona

Being a CIAN student means being a part of cutting-edge research in exciting projects that I would usually not have the chance to participate in. I am helping to engineer something useful that people will actually benefit from. The program has given me knowledge and skills that put me ahead of the curve and have helped me understand the rigors of research. Being in CIAN is helping me become a great engineer because I am gaining research experience early in my educational career, which has made it easier for me to have more opportunities to participate in other stimulating and innovative research projects in the future.

hannahHannah Grant

PhD Student, University of California San Diego

CIAN has given me plenty of opportunities to become a better engineer. Whether it being getting real lab experience doing the CIAN REU at UCSD during my undergrad or being able to collaborate with other graduate students not only in my university but as well as other top universities. Additionally, being involved in the outreach amongst CIAN has really allowed me to become better at conveying knowledge to others, which is a skill that is sometimes lacked in the STEM fields. Overall, a CIAN student is resourceful with their research and the tools they are given, helpful in their communities and willing to go the extra mile.

soha-profileSoha Namnabat

PhD Student, University of Arizona

I enjoyed being a CIAN student during my PhD program. CIAN not only gave me the opportunity to learn about telecommunications on a broader scale, but leveraged my skills in networking with colleagues, faculty and industry, collaboration with different groups of people, and entrepreneurship. I learned more about different topics than other students who didn’t have the opportunity. Also the importance of outreach in our society and the way to give back. I really enjoyed my time with CIAN, especially the outreach and times we were with other CIAN students and learning from each other. This has developed some friendships that may not have happened without the ERC.

morteza ziyadiMorteza Ziyadi

PhD Student, University of Southern California

For the last five years, I’ve been a CIAN student at USC and I’ve learnt a lot from this center. Getting the chance to meet and collaborate with different research groups toward a unique goal, gaining experience by different outreach activities, being awarded by the center, and achieving the leadership opportunities for the students are the instances of different opportunities, experiences and benefits that CIAN has provided to me. I’ve learnt a lot from the center program and I’ve enjoyed my time as a CIAN student.

CIAN Graduates Take Prize at Collegiate Inventors Competition for Invention


Sangyoon Han and Tae Joon Seok take the prize at the Collegiate Inventors Competition for their invention SWAPS (Silicon Waveguide Array Photonic Switch)

At the Collegiate Inventors Competition on November 17th at the United States of Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in Alexandria, VA two UC Berkeley affiliates, Tae Joon Seok and Sangyoon Han, participated and received the bronze medal in the graduate division. Along with the bronze medal, Seok and Han received a cash prize of $10,000. They were advised by Professor Ming C. Wu of UC Berkeley and CIAN.

Sponsored by USPTO and the AbbVie Foundation, there were submissions from more than 100 universities around the United States. Seven teams were selected as finalists for the graduate division competition. At the final competition the seven finalists presented their work to inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Seok and Han presented their invention called SWAPS for Silicon Waveguide Array Photonic Switch. The project is also supported by CIAN. It is an optical switch device based on silicon photonics and MEMS technologies. SWAPS has an excellent scaling property compared to the currently used, silicon photonics based optical switches.  Continue reading

Updates from the Lab: Refractive Index Sensing with High Contrast Grating Resonators

Christina Thantrakul(Portrait)About the Author: Christina Thantrakul

Christina Thantrakul applied for and received a Undergraduate Research Fellowship to do research with Dr. Connie Chang-Hasnain at the University of California, Berkeley for the Spring and Summer semesters in 2015. Christina completed her degree at UC Berkeley and graduated with a BS in engineering physics in December 2015. She plans to further her education through a graduate program to continue building her skills for a technical or scientific career.

Refractive Index Sensing with High Contrast Grating Resonators

Optical resonators such as ring resonators, photonic crystal resonators, and microsphere resonators, are used in many applications, including on-chip filters, lasers, and optical sensing experiments.  During my Undergraduate Research Fellowship with the Center for Integrated Access Networks (CIAN), Professor Connie Chang-Hasnain, and Graduate Student Researcher Tianbo Sun, I studied High Contrast Grating (HCG) resonators designed for refractive index sensing.  These resonators have high quality factors, large physical sizes, are easily coupled, and are very sensitive to refractive index changes.

HCGs are formed by a thin layer of semiconductor gratings surrounded by low index material such as air or SiO2 [1].  The structure used for this experiment consists of a silicon HCG on a layer of SiO2. The HCG structure has a high index contrast at both the entrance and exit planes and can be designed to have a high quality factor resonance at surface normal or oblique incidence angle.  The HCG’s quality factor and resonance wavelength depends on the dimensions of the grating:  grating thickness tg, period Λ and duty cycle [1]. Continue reading

CIAN International Travel Grant: Jelena’s Trip to Germany

As part of the CIAN program Jelena Marašević, a CIAN student at Columbia University, applied for and received a CIAN International Travel Grant to collaborate with CIAN partners at TU Darmstadt as well as attend the Heidelberg Laureate Forum. Read about her experience below! CIAN Travel Grants are currently available. Apply today! 


Jelena and The Darmstadt Wedding Tower

My travel went great. I was really impressed by the Heidelberg Laureate Forum (HLF) experience. It felt a bit intense—the program would start every day at 9am—and then the day would be quite full, with dinner ending around 10pm. Overall, it was worth it. The talks by the laureates were quite broad—from history of the computers, over Alan Turing’s work, to how to write mathematical proofs using software. We had a lot of chance to interact with the laureates, both during coffee breaks and during dinners. I was most impressed by Leslie Valiant and Endre Szemeredi, two brilliant scientists with very different personalities.  Continue reading

CIAN Student Retreat & Innovation to Market Workshop 2015

This year’s CIAN Student Retreat and Innovation to Market Workshop took place after the CIAN Annual Retreat. Two speakers were hosted to share their expertise on interview skills and entrepreneurship. Below, find George Kenney’s presentation and advice from Bri McWhorter on the “Top Five Interview Techniques.”

Access George Kenney’s Presentation

Part 1

Part 2


george-kenneyGeorge Kenney
Managing Director & Co-Founder
Shepherd Ventures

A Managing Director and co-founder of Shepherd Ventures, George has a strong technical background combined with extensive Wall Street and financial industry experience. He has been a successful manager in rapid growth environments, turning around struggling operations and developing and mentoring high technology companies. George has invested in a broad range of technology companies. He also runs an Entrepreneur’s Boot Camp which prepares CEOs to raise money.

Before forming Shepherd Ventures, George was CTO and Partner at Nicholas-Applegate, a money management firm in San Diego, where he directed technology and operations to grow and sell the company. Prior to Nicholas-Applegate, George was CTO and Managing Director at Kidder Peabody in New York City, becoming an expert in Investment Risk Management. Previously he held top information technology positions at Swiss Bank, Salomon Brothers and the American Stock Exchange. As Director of Research for North American Philips and co-founder of Digital Measurements Corp., George obtained numerous US and foreign patents.

George holds an MBA in Finance from Columbia University, an MSEE from Stanford University and a BS in Electrical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Additionally, he attended the Optic’s Program at London’s Imperial College and is a Graduate of Harvard University’s Industrial Management Program.  A noted technology futurist, George has been a keynote speaker at financial conferences on The Future of Technology. He has served as a Trustee for the San Diego Museum of Art and as pro-bono Chairman of the museum’s Investment Committee.  He has also served on the Board of Governors of the National Association of Small  Business Investment Companies and is currently  a board member of several technology companies.


by Bri McWhorter, CEO and Founder of Activate to Captivate


Be here and now. It is the most important advice I can give. Miscommunications and missed opportunities occur far too often because people are distracted by their own thoughts and not focusing on what is happening in front of them. This is especially hard in an interview, when your body is filled with nerves and your mind is running through all the various ways this interview could play out. Instead of focusing on what could be, pay attention to what is.


The first thing to do before entering an interview is to change your mindset. Instead of saying to yourself, “Don’t mess up” or “Please pick me,” enter the room believing you are already on their team. You and the interviewer are already colleagues. You are entering the room to get to know each other better, to exchange ideas and to see if you can work together to build something great. You are not entering the room to be grilled or interrogated. This is a supportive atmosphere where you can have a conversation and explore new topics.


It is important to remember that you are also interviewing them. You need to figure out if this is a work environment that you can thrive in. The last thing you want to do is move your whole life around for this job and find out that this is not a place you feel you can spread your wings in. That is why an interview is a conversation. Go in excited to explore new possibilities. You are seeing if you can add to their team and if their team is the right fit for you.


The most common remark I hear when I help people prepare for interviews is that they are afraid of not knowing an answer to a question. It is impossible to predict and prepare for every possible situation and question. Instead, breathe and be excited about this experience. Fun is the antidote to fear. I have my clients engage in various improvisation exercises to remind them that the unplanned can be fun.


Even though you can’t prepare for everything, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t prepare. Do your homework. Know the company you are interviewing for. What is their mission statement? What are they currently working on? Were any articles about them released lately? With the internet at your fingertips, you have a vast amount of resources to consult before entering an interview situation. You also need to know why you are the best fit for this job. If you don’t know why you are ideal for this position, how can you expect others to believe you are?

Prepare the answer these questions:

  • Why you?
  • What sets you apart from the rest of the competition?
  • Why this job?
  • Why this company?
  • What previous experiences will help you succeed in this new position?
  • What questions would you ask if you were interviewing someone for this job?
  • What do you hope to accomplish with this position?
  • What questions do you have for the interviewer?


  • Stay mentally and physically present.
  • Change your mindset about the interview. See it as an opportunity to exchange ideas.
  • You are also interviewing them. You want to see if this is the right fit for you. Be sure you can thrive.
  • Go with the flow. Have fun.
  • Prepare what you can.

bri-mcwhorterBri McWhorter
CEO and Founder
Activate to Captivate

Bri McWhorter is the CEO and Founder of Activate to Captivate where she teaches communication techniques from an actor’s point of view. She specializes in Presentation Skills, Interpersonal Communications, Interview Techniques and is a Speech Coach. She is a Communications Consultant for UC Irvine. She teaches communication certificate programs on public speaking for graduate students and postdocs. She also works with faculty on upcoming presentations. She has a MFA in Acting from UC Irvine and a BA in Theater and Performance Studies from UC Berkeley.  She is a private speech coach and conducts group communication workshops for various companies and universities. For more information on Bri, please visit

Scott Tan Attends MRS Spring Conference 2015

After a long flight from London, it was nice to return to the US for the annual Materials Research Society Spring Conference held in sunny San Francisco. Thousands of professionals, enthusiasts, and students gathered from around the world for presentations, events, and exhibits, spanning across two conference hotels and the enormous Moscone West Convention Center. It was an incredible experience, and I am very thankful for such an amazing opportunity.

At the end of Summer 2014 with Dr. Gangopadhyay, Dr. Balakrishnan, and Alex Alvara (another IOU-NA participant)

At the end of Summer 2014 with Dr. Gangopadhyay, Dr. Balakrishnan, and Alex Alvara (another IOU-NA participant)

On Monday, the conference started off with tutorial sessions on a wide variety of interesting topics. I attended a workshop on biomolecular motors for nanodevices, and then a session about characterizing nanowires. That night, I got to attend the Fred Kavli Distinguished Lectureship in Nanoscience, which is one of the most coveted awards in materials science, right below the Nobel Prize. This year’s winner, Dr. Hongyou Fan, presented his research developing a new technique to synthesize nanomaterials. Continue reading

CIAN Student Webinar Talk Series – Dr. Chris Mack

Getting Published: How to write a good science paper

Date: Friday, April 24, 2015
Time: 3pm ET, 2pm CT, 1pm MT, 12pm AZT/PT


Publishing is an extremely important part of the process of science, and often an important part of the career of scientists and engineers.  But to the early-career author (or student preparing their first publication), the peer-reviewed journal writing and publishing process can be intimidating, and possibly a bit mysterious.  What are journal editors and reviewers looking for?  What does it take to get your work published?

Of course, the first place to start is by doing good research on an important topic.  But you still have to write a good paper.  This talk will focus on what it takes to get published, and in particular how to write a good science paper.  I’ll share some of my secrets on writing a good paper (OK, they’re not really secrets, but these skills are not often taught in school).  The good news is you don’t have to be a good writer to write a good paper.  But you do have to be a careful and knowledgeable writer.  With practice, you can become a good writer as well.


Chris A. Mack
Associate Professor, The University of Texas at Austin
Editor-in-Chief, the Journal of Micro/Nanolithography, MEMS, and MOEMS

Dr. Chris A. Mack has worked in semiconductor fabrication since 1983.  He developed the lithography simulation software PROLITH, and founded and ran the company FINLE Technologies for ten years.  He then served as Vice President of Lithography Technology for KLA-Tencor for five years, until 2005.  In 2003 he received the SEMI Award for North America for his efforts in lithography simulation and education and in 2009 he received the SPIE Frits Zernike Award for Microlithography.  He is a fellow of SPIE and IEEE and is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Texas at Austin.  In 2012 he became Editor-In-Chief of the Journal of Micro/Nanolithography, MEMS, and MOEMS (JM3).  He has published over 200 scientific papers, some of which were actually written well.  Currently, he writes, teaches, and consults on the field of semiconductor microlithography in Austin, Texas.  (

SLC Scholarship Recipients 2015

The Student Leadership Council’s

Leadership Scholarship

recognizes CIAN students showing exceptional leadership and involvement in all aspects of CIAN in pursuit of the Engineer of 2020 attributes.

Everything a CIAN student does throughout the year is considered in his or her application for this scholarship, from outreach to publications and much more. Each student selected for the scholarship receives $500. Every student in CIAN is highly encouraged to apply whether he or she is more active in research, outreach, or both–the application recognizes many activities. A link to the Year 8 Application will be posted shortly.

CIAN recognizes the follow students for their participation, leadership, and dedication to in Year 7.

Jean-Pierre Papouloute - TuskegeeJean-Pierre ‘JP’ Papouloute – Undergraduate, Tuskegee University

The CIAN ERC has been a priceless component of my educational and professional development. I have been given the opportunity to host creative outreach presentations, gain leadership skills, improve my public speaking, and learn about the business side of engineering innovation. I feel privileged to get all of this in addition to my exposure to cutting edge optoelectronics research as an undergraduate. I appreciate the financial support, which I will use for my graduate school application expenses. Thank you CIAN team!

profile_cheah-feibien_150x200pxFeibien Cheah – Undergraduate, University of Arizona

I have participated in 14 outreach events over the past year and I loved every minutes of it! I enjoy it when people are genuinely interested into coming out into the community to learn about STEM (and optics)! Outreach has also led me to meet a lot of new people who have the same passion as I have. This scholarship is just another driving force for me to do even more outreach on the behalf of CIAN. On top of that, I gained a lot of experience that will help me in my future.

Joseph Smalley - UCSDJoseph Smalley – PhD Candidate, University of California, San Diego

I am grateful to be awarded this scholarship.  CIAN has provided me with a number of opportunities to gain professional and technical leadership experience.  Whether its through outreach events, the student leadership committee, hosting REU students, cross-campus collaboration, or the technical speaker series, I am fortunate to be a CIAN participant.  My experiences have made me aware of the value of NSF Engineering Research Centers, as a catalyst for education, innovation, and personal development.

GPSC_Bio_Pic_CroppedJasmine Sears – PhD Candidate, University of Arizona

This past year, I continued my CIAN-related research, designed and tested some new outreach demos, mentored an RET, and tried my hand at writing for the CIAN blog. CIAN’s support of my research group, outreach activities, and mentoring has been extremely helpful, giving me opportunities to learn and grow that I otherwise wouldn’t have had. This scholarship will grant me further flexibility in my research explorations and outreach development. Thank you!

Alexander Miles - UAAlex Miles – PhD Candidate, University of Arizona

I’m very exited to receive the CIAN SLC scholarship! It will help me present my research a a conference that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend, as well as allow me to dedicate more time to my studies.

IOU-NA Student Followup: MSPHD’S at AGU in San Fran

Well first off, I would just like to say it is great to be back in the Bay Area. 🙂

I call San Jose my home, but San Francisco is close, and probably my favorite place to visit. For whatever reason, the city never seems to get old or boring no matter how many times I go. This time I get the pleasure to come back for the American Geophysical Union Conference, and the MSPHDS program.



Minorities Striving in Participating in Higher Degrees of Success is a professional development program designed to give minority students an opportunity to train and develop every aspect of their professional identity, to network with scientists and professionals attending the AGU conference, and also to build lasting relationships with the network we are building as early career scientists. In order to be a part of this particular program, you would need to have participated in an NSF funded REU program over the summer.


I qualified because this summer I participated in an NSF funded REU program called the Integrated Optics for Undergraduate Native Americans (IOU-NA) program. Continue reading

Education Director Attends Conference

While attending the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education, Inc. Tenth Annual National Conference in Dallas, TX CIAN Education Director, Dr. Allison Huff-Lohmeier, happened to meet leaders in community colleges.

Dr. Allison Huff-Lohmeier with CIAN Education is currently pursuing new partnerships with community colleges to achieve goals of CIAN and the National Science Foundation through initiatives for higher education collaboration with community colleges.


Pictured above, from left-to-right, Maria Harper-Marinick, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost of Maricopa County Arizona Community Colleges; Dr. Allison Huff-Lohmeier, CIAN Education Director; Elva Concha LeBlanc, President of Northwest Campus, Tarrant County Texas College District.