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Two Penn State Berks students receive 2018 Erickson Discovery Grants

Two Penn State Berks students receive 2018 Erickson Discovery Grants

This year, two students at Penn State Berks received the University’s prestigious Erickson Discovery Grant for the summer 2018 through the Office of Undergraduate Education.

At Penn State, an increasing number of students are forgoing their usual summer routines and are participating in research in the field, lab, or studio. For some, this means staying close to campus while others travel thousands of miles away to research topics in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities and arts fields.

Awardees receive a $3,500 grant to immerse themselves in original research, scholarship and creative work under the direct supervision of a faculty member. 

The Penn State Berks student awardees include:

Bridget Baksa, “Multi-Objective Spatial Clustering with Multiple Constraints”

Baksa, a junior majoring in Information Sciences and Technology with minors in Security and Risk Analysis and Business, will will work with her faculty adviser, Dr. Abdullah Konak, to combine two clustering algorithms and apply the algorithms to a real-life scenario. For their research, they will apply the algorithms to the newly formed Congressional districts. Baksa explains that she is pursuing this line of research based on her interest in big data analytics and is also using the study to fulfill the requirements of her Penn State Schreyer Honors College thesis.

In addition to conducting research over the summer, Baksa will also complete an internship at Deloitte, a UK-incorporated multinational professional services network. She was one of eight Penn State Berks students to recently receive the Evan Pugh Scholars Award, which is presented to juniors and seniors who are in the upper 0.5 percent of their respective classes. Baksa plans to go on to earn a master’s degree in data science.

— Steven Stamm, “Reduction of Drag by Adding Longitudinal Grooves”

Stamm, a junior majoring in Mechanical Engineering, will conduct research to analyze how to make aircraft more efficient through the additional of longitudinal grooves. Specifically, the study will focus on the wing of the craft and seek to determine how the addition of longitudinal grooves would effect efficiency. In addition to the Erickson Discovery Grant, Stamm is also completing a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) through Penn State University this summer. The REU will focus on the first phase of this study, while the Erickson grant will focus on the second and third phases.

Working with his faculty adviser Dr. Azar Eslam Panah, Stamm explains that he will apply the knowledge he gained as a lab assistant in the Fluid Discovery Laboratory that Panah created and supervises at Penn State Berks. Stamm is a returning adult student, and is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers student organization. He plans to pursue a career in aerospace engineering after graduation.

The Research Opportunities for Undergraduates program is part of Penn State Undergraduate Education, the academic administrative unit that provides leadership and coordination for University-wide programs and initiatives in support of undergraduate teaching and learning at Penn State. Learn more at