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U. of I. senior awarded grant for study in England


Melissa Mitchell, News Editor
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A senior at the University of Illinois has received a Whitaker International Fellow Grant for study in England during the 2008-09 academic year.

Ashley Wessendorf, a mechanical science and engineering major from Flossmoor, Ill., will use her scholarship to pursue an advanced degree in bioscience enterprise at the Institute of Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge.

“It was a pleasure working with Ashley on her scholarship applications, and her award is a testament to the international prominence of young scholars from the University of Illinois,” said David Schug, who heads the campus’s Scholarships for International Study Office.

The goal of the Whitaker Program is to assist in the development of professional leaders who are not only superb engineers and scientists, but who also will lead and serve the biomedical engineering profession with an international outlook. As such, the fellowship was designed to serve young biomedical engineers eager for a new international experience. Fellows may study at a university, conduct research at a research institute or work as an intern at a policy-making organization. Recipients receive round-trip international airfare, a monthly living stipend, health and accident insurance, and a tuition allowance.

At Cambridge, Wessendorf will complete course work in the sciences and technology, and medical business practices. She also will participate in an internship with a bioengineering company. Her ultimate goal is to become an expert in biosensors and biosensor applications, with an eye toward developing minimally invasive diagnostic and disease treatment applications.

At Illinois, Wessendorf has been a James Scholar and a Chancellor’s Scholar. She served as the president of the Society of Experimental Mechanics and as the president of Together Encouraging the Appreciation of Multiculturalism, a student organization that educates peers regarding issues of multiculturalism and diversity. She also studied for a semester in Singapore.

In carrying out her academic work, Wessendorf sought numerous research and internship opportunities, including studying the rate of bacteria growth in hot springs (work she did with geology and microbiology professor Bruce Fouke) and designing and testing a welded joint for pacemaker devices at Boston Scientific.