Columbia Natives Patricia Ordóñez, Jason Reid to Pursue Ph.D.s at UMBC, MIT
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Patricia Ordóñez, a UMBC second year graduate student, and Jason Reid, a UMBC class of 2007 graduate, both from Columbia, MD, have received National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships (NSFGRF), which are among the most competitive and prestigious academic awards for American college students as they begin graduate studies. Both students are products of UMBC’s College of Engineering and Information Technology.
The NSFGRF is a three-year award that funds tuition and an annual stipend to support graduate studies for students showing the potential to contribute significantly to research, teaching and innovations in science and engineering. About 1,000 were awarded across the U.S. this year.
Ordóñez, who received a B.A. in Hispanic and Italian Studies in 1989 from Johns Hopkins University, began to pursue her career in computer science attending UMBC part-time in the fall of 2001. She was admitted to the graduate school full-time in the fall of 2005 and will remain at UMBC to pursue a Ph.D. in her field as well as continue research developing medical applications using pervasive computing to help personalize operating rooms for patients and surgeons.
“I would be crazy to leave such an encouraging and supportive environment,” she said. “I love being somewhere where the president of the university greets you as he walks by and takes a personal interest in the students.”
Reid, who received a B.S. in mechanical engineering, will attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to pursue an M.S./Ph.D. in mechanical engineering and conduct research in the use of robotics to accelerate rehabilitation in stroke and spinal cord injury patients.
“The NSF award is great because you can work on pretty much anything that interests you,” said Reid. “While I look forward to embarking on the new experiences and challenges of the future, I will always appreciate my time spent at UMBC.”
A Meyerhoff Scholar, Reid also received a Society of Automotive Engineers Scholarship, the UMBC Mechanical Engineering Alumni Award and the Hillel of Greater Baltimore President’s Award. Reid’s winning research proposal for the NSFGRF came from his work in the lab of UMBC mechanical engineering professor Dwayne Arola, with whom he studied ways to improve dental tools and practices for senior citizen patients as the enamel of their teeth grows brittle with age.
For Ordóñez, the award makes her doctoral dreams obtainable. “Without it I think I would have settled for the masters rather than the PhD because I am 40 years old and have the financial responsibilities of a 40-year-old,” she said. “Now I have the financial support I need to focus solely on my research.”
Ordóñez, part of the UMBC computer science and electrical engineering department’s eBiquity Research Group, thanked UMBC faculty members Anupam Joshi, Marie desJardins, Renetta Tull, Tim Finin, Penny Rheingans, Janet Rutledge, Charles Nicholas, Krishna Sivalingam, and Marc Olano for supporting her in her graduate studies and Shon Vick in her undergraduate studies.