College of Engineering News • Iowa State University

Ph.D. student receives IBM Fellowship award

ECpE PhD student, Neelam Prabhu Gaunkar, recently received the IBM Ph.D. Fellowship award in the fundamental science and technology category.

The IBM Fellowship award is an internationally competitive award given to excellent Ph.D. students who have an interest in solving problems that are important to IBM and fundamental to innovation in various areas of study. Candidates can vary from computer science, physical sciences, mathematics, public sector and business services, service science and more.

Prabhu Gaunkar’s research investigates the applicability of nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) by improving and building novel sensor systems that will acquire reliable datasets non-invasively. What makes her work different is perhaps the fact that unlike conventional NMR systems, she wants to use a single-sided NMR system for imaging purposes. The single-sided system has a limited field of vision but is very portable. Thus, the main challenge lies in improving acquired image resolution and for this Prabhu Gaunkar plans to combine signals from an array of transmit/receive coils and control the magnetic field gradients.

In order to receive the IBM Fellowship award, candidates must be nominated by both the department chair and their advisor. In Prabhu Gaunkar’s case, that person was Dr. Jiles.

“I am delighted to hear that Neelam has been awarded an IBM Fellowship,” said Jiles. “The IBM Fellowships are prestigious and highly sought-after. Winning this fellowship is testimony to the achievements that she has already made in both research and education.”

Prabhu Gaunkar’s work will still be a proof on concept, but she hopes to continue her research in order to adapt a single-sided NMR circuit to acquire rapid, noise free images from organic tissues.  This would greatly contribute to diagnostic capabilities in medical application in the future.

“It’s very prestigious, I’m very surprised,” Prabhu Gaunkar said. “I’m excited and encouraged that people value my work and know it’s important.”