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ChE grad student receives IBM fellowship

ChE grad student receives IBM fellowship

Magazine Section: Our People, Our Culture
College or School: CoE
Article Type: Article
Photo of Holloway, Smith and Lasser
Beth Holloway, Katie Smith and Cathy Lasser, IBM Sales and Distribution
Kathryn "Katie" Smith, a Ph.D. student in chemical engineering, has been awarded the Fran Allen Ph.D. Fellowship Award by IBM. The fellowship, established in 2007, is given to one female Ph.D. student annually based on her "outstanding technical accomplishments and commitment to mentoring and community-building."

The IBM award includes a $30,000 grant "to encourage participation of women in engineering and computer science." The grant was awarded to the Women in Engineering Program, directed by Beth Holloway, who will use the funds to support WIEP's various educational, outreach and mentoring programs.

Smith, who obtained a B.A. and a B.S. degree in Spanish language and chemical engineering, respectively, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, expects to earn her Ph.D. from Purdue in August 2013. Her advisor, Stephen Beaudoin, professor and director of graduate admissions for the School of Chemical Engineering, says he expects Smith to continue achieving great things.

“Working with Katie has been a wonderful experience. She is extremely talented, and approaches everything she does with passion and great enthusiasm," Beaudoin says. "This combination of ability and commitment will allow her to continue to do great things for many years to come.”

Smith says she has a passion for both research and teaching. 

"I love being an engineer, a scientist, a problem-solver," she says. "The work I have done and continue doing for my research thesis is difficult; and understanding does not come quickly or easily. However, to me, this is part of its charm."

"I have Purdue to thank for putting me in the role of instructor — as a TA for an undergraduate chemical engineering course — which has taught me something new about myself — I love teaching! Some of the most gratifying and rewarding experiences I have had during my career as a graduate student have been those when I could literally see the light bulbs turn on in students' eyes because they finally got it, and I helped them get there." 

The Fran Allen Ph.D. Fellowship Award honors Fran Allen, a computer science pioneer. Allen received the 2006 A.M. Turing Award for contributions that fundamentally improved the performance of computer programs in solving problems, and accelerated the use of high-performance computing. The award marked the first time that a woman had received the honor.