Sonja Brankovic, a second-year mechanical engineering PhD student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, has received the 2020 Chih Foundation Graduate Student Research Publication Award for her first-author paper entitled "MMP12 Preferentially Attenuates Axial Stiffening of Aging Arteries."
The Chih Foundation honors graduate student research publications that reflect invention and innovation for the betterment of society.
“I was very surprised and grateful to receive this award,” said Brankovic. “The award has been both a validation and a motivator for me to improve my STEM communication skills. Also, there's a lot of fun in explaining my work to broad audiences, so winning an award for doing that is really gratifying!”
In addition to Brankovic’s paper published in ASME's Journal of Biomechanical Engineering
in 2019, she launched a sustainability blog series, Buzz Bites
, that's published through the Georgia Tech Office of Campus Sustainability. She’s been writing articles for the blog for approximately one year. As part of the award application, she wanted to emphasize her non-technical publishing for the blog because she thinks grad students can lose sight of explaining their research to the general public.
“I am so proud to congratulate Sonja once more for this award,” said Andrey Gunawan
, Research Engineer in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and faculty advisor to Brankovic. "This is a perfect award for Sonja not only to showcase her diverse research history in the field of health sciences and engineering, but also (as the Chih Foundation suggests) to motivate her to pursue her passion in research and academia, and the value of putting the needs of others and the betterment of society above her personal interests.”
Brankovic’s research interests mainly fall within the macroscale thermodynamics field, and include renewable energy systems and high-temperature materials. During her undergrad at the University of Illinois, she worked in an agricultural engineering lab that tested the effects of different thermal/chemical environments on egg production in controlled hen-houses. More recently, she worked in a pharmacology lab at the University of Pennsylvania where she tested the mechanical properties of arteries from a variety of mouse models and drug treatment protocols. At Tech, she is doing a research-180 and focusing on next-generation molten salt technology for concentrating solar power systems.
“The Chih Foundation Graduate Student Research Award recognizes excellence in science and engineering. Sonja embodies that excellence through her research into thermal transport in high temperature materials,” said Shannon Yee
, Associate Professor in the Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and faculty advisor to Brankovic. “I am so proud of Sonja and all that she has accomplished in her first couple years of graduate school. I look forward to the future scientific and engineering discoveries that she will make in the future.”