Melia the Only Undergrad Researcher Accepted

Undergrad Researcher Awarded IEEE Photonics Conference Women in Photonics Travel Grant

Professor Can Bayram’s undergraduate research student, Josephine Melia, recently received an IEEE Photonics Conference Women in Photonics Travel Grant. Understandably proud of her accomplishment, Professor Bayram commented “She is the only Illinois undergrad researcher accepted, and one of a handful of US students or young professionals accepted.” IEEE initiated the student travel grant program to encourage student participation; the grant funds are intended to be used for lodging expenses and conference registration.

Melia applied for the travel grant because Bayram encouraged her to do so. After reviewing the planned program, she knew that she would learn a great deal, and would have a chance to network with other researchers and industry professionals in her field of interest. About receiving the travel grant, she said “I was very excited when I won because I got to go to this professional conference and I felt honored to go there as an undergraduate student. I also felt a bit nervous to meet people who were already successful and had contributed a lot to photonics.”

Josephine Melia
Josephine Melia

She regarded her conference experience as rewarding and commented “I really liked the conference because it made me feel like a part of the photonics society. It was a very welcoming community and I was able to talk to both graduate students and faculty. I had a chance to listen to a broad option of talks and I learned more about topics that I liked the most. I wasn’t sure of what I wanted to do in the long run, but now I have a better picture. I also learned about the progress of the field in general and the many exciting opportunities available.”

Melia just earned her bachelor of science degree in physics in August, and is thinking ahead to graduate school. She is specifically interested in III-V based LED, and is applying to graduate schools based on principal investigators who are doing work in that area. She is currently applying for a Ph.D. program in electrical engineering for the fall 2019 cycle, while also working on a new research project. Asked why she chose Illinois for her undergrad experience, she responded “I’ve had interest in solid-state physics since high school and the University of Illinois is first-ranked in that field.”

Her undergrad research experience included working with other undergraduates to do controlled spalling technology, a novel technology used to produce thin film from bulk materials. During this time she said “I spent a lot of time in the cleanroom and my group’s lab on the second floor of MNTL.” Recently, she started a new project co-advised by Professor Jean-Pierre Leburton to work on GaN HEMT modelling. She noted that “It requires more theory and while I don’t have to go to laboratory anymore, having both of my PIs’ offices at MNTL is very convenient for me.”