A Look at a Few Graduate Students

Our women graduate students consistently achieve top honors for their work, and many of them boast research funded by fellowships and assistantships. They contribute to faculty research programs in vital ways, go on to careers as leaders in academia, industry, education, and government—and they lead inspiring lives outside the lab, too!  


Victoria Arias
Victoria AriasAs a PhD student in mechanical engineering, Victoria Arias is working with Professors Harley Johnson and Kelly Stephani on a project involving computational chemistry and miromechanics. This work is specifically geared towards pursuing her passion for space exploration and the  hope to be an astronaut. Attending University of California: Merced for her undergraduate degree,  she started by studying chemistry and shifted to mathematics. She partook in various research programs throughout her undergrad and shortly after started a position as a NASA intern at the Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. This internship led her to pursue her PhD and after visiting Illinois she decided MechSE would offer her the best opportunities. Victoria hopes that she can incorporate concepts from her NASA work into her graduate project and she is going to continue fighting for her dream of going to space. Read more >>

Mahshid Mansouri
Mahshid MansouriDuring her undergraduate studies at Sharif University of Technology, Mahshid Mansouri became interested in the areas of controls and biomechanics. Now pursuing her PhD, Mahshid is working in the Human Dynamics and Controls Lab under Professor Elizabeth Hsiao-Wecksler. With a specific concentration on helping patients suffering from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), Mahshid is putting her controls knowledge to use by developing an innovative bed mattress that will continuously reduce pressure on the patient’s body, reposition patients, and move the patients to the edge of the bed without the assistance of a caregiver. These features could greatly improve the quality of life for ALS patients limiting pressure ulcers, bed sores, and decrease the cost of and strain on their caregivers. Mahshid was one of only four recipients of the Roy J Carver Fellowship awarded by the Grainger College of Engineering for the 2019-2020 academic year. Read more >>

Kimberly Gustafson
Kim GustafsonMechSE graduate student Kimberly Gustafson works in Assistant Professor Aimy Wissa’s Bio-Inspired Morphology (BAM) lab. Her first paper as a graduate student won a Best Student Paper first place prize and a Best Student Paper second place prize for Bioinspiration, Biomimetics, and Bioreplication at the SPIE 2019 conference.  The paper is covering research that she had done during a fellowship at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Research Laboratory involving the design of wing tips to mimic those of birds to assist in stabilizing flight. Kimberly is hoping to get an MD or PhD after she graduates with the goal of one day designing prosthetics and implants to solve current issues in that field. Read more >>

Ophelia Bolmin
Ophelia BolminAfter earning her undergraduate degree in France, Ophelia Bolmin was brought to the University of Illinois because of her passion for bio-inspired design. Initially coming to Illinois on a Fulbright grant, she earned her master’s in aerospace engineering in 2017. After meetings with Professor Aimy Wissa, she decided to pursue a PhD through MechSE and work in the Bio-inspired Adaptive Morphology (BAM) lab. Ophelia’s graduate work involves a project to create self-righting mechanisms inspired by the click beetle’s legless jump. In addition to her research, Ophelia has worked as a teaching assistant for the design course ME 370 and ME 498, Bio-Inspired Design. Read more >>

Anna Oldani
Anna OldaniAfter starting her academic career at Illinois by getting her bachelor’s degree in agricultural and biological engineering, Anna Oldani earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering and pursued a PhD in MechSE working with Professor Tonghun Lee’s research group. Her work involves developing a national jet fuel database using existing data as well as experimentation and modeling of jet fuels. The goal of the database is that it will eventually be shared by academic, governmental, and industrial communities to offer comprehensive and centralized information. This project is done in collaboration with the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Center of Excellence for Alternative Jet Fuels and Environment also known as the Aviation Sustainability Center (ASCENT) . Her work on this project and in Professor Lee’s lab earned her the Department of Transportation Student of the Year award in 2018. Read more >>