June 15, 2010 — Ph.D. student Phillip Zellner has been awarded a three-year Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) scholarship from the Department of Defense (DoD). The goal of the SMART scholarship program is to increase the number of highly qualified engineers and scientists working for the DoD.
The SMART scholarship covers educational expenses for three years and supplies a stipend to cover living and other expenses. Zellner will spend summers doing research as an intern at a DoD laboratory, and will transition to working full-time for the DoD after graduation.
Zellner, who also received his BSEE from Virginia Tech, is working with ECE's Masoud Agah on biomedical applications of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) in the VT MEMS lab. His research focuses on MEMS systems to act as "labs-on-a-chip" to perform analytical chemistry, diagnose diseases, and discover drugs. He has developed a first-ever single-mask, single-etch process to create buried 3-D channels in silicon substrate. Previous techniques required multiple steps and were only 2-D. Zellner's results were recently published in the Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering.
Zellner has been an ECE Bradley Fellow for three years.