Undergraduate Student of the Month

Kaitlin Gardner - November, 2015

Kaitlin Gardner is a 4th year EAS major minoring in Public Policy. She is currently working with Dr. Andrew Newman on seismology. This past spring, after receiving the PURA award, Kaitlin joined Dr Newman’s group to Costa Rica to assist with onsite research. Kaitlin also took part in a project at the University of Reykjavic in Iceland on nuclear energy on a study abroad program this last summer. 

She is a co-chair of the EAS Club and loves spending her free time participating in that.  Kaitlin says “planning events and getting to know everyone in the program is pretty awesome.”  She also loves being a TA for 2600 and when she does get time on the weekends, she goes to football games (GO JACKETS) or hikes.

Matt Meister - October, 2015

Matthew Meister is in his 6th year in Mechanical Engineering and will be graduating this December.  In his line of research he works with Dr. Britney Schmidt on underwater vehicles and CubeSats, specifically mechanical design and system integration. For the underwater vehicle research he primarily focuses on Icefin, which is the vehicle Dr. Schmidt built using her startup funds. Matthew is the lead mechanical engineer on the vehicle and is responsible for the mechanical design and analysis. Currently he is working on a robotic arm that will be attached to Icefin and will have the capabilities to collect water samples as well as taking samples of the ice shelf from the underside and even sediment from the ocean floor. Icefin was nominated for GTRI’s 2014 Innovative Research Award.

This past spring Matthew performed research for CubeSat which was part of a Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) project to design a CubeSat that would be sent to Europa, an icy moon around Jupiter. He was the lead engineer for the spacecraft design team that came up with The Europa Plume and Exosphere CubeSat (EPEC). Matthew was also part of the group that flew out to JPL this summer and met with the engineers to present his team’s design. He also gave two conference presentations/posters this summer (AbSciCon - Chicago and IGS - Cambridge).

During his time at Georgia Tech, he was an undergrad researcher for Dr. Michael West at GTRI in 2013 and 2014, President of Wreck Racing in 2013 and developed a custom turbo kit for his team’s competition car that placed 5th at competition in 2014. In his spare time Matthew likes working on cars and cycling. Currently he is working on his 1995 Land Cruiser making some modifications for more extreme off road use. He is also training for a 100 mile bike ride, 6 Gap Century.

Namrata Kolla - September, 2015

Namrata Kolla is a 4th year student double-majoring in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Public Policy. She says that Dr. Dana Hartley, Dr. Richard Barke, and Ms. Leslie Ross have been her greatest mentors through college. Namrata is currently researching the crossroads of earth sciences and public policy, such as how to quantify the negative social effects of environmental damage or how to improve the communication between scientists and policymakers.She is also researching the predictability and long-term trends of ocean acidification with Dr. Emanuele Di Lorenzo.

Some of her notable achievements include joining the President's Scholarship Program as a "Walk-on" Stamps scholar last semester and being chosen to be part of the 113th Congress' Stennis Center program. She has also co-authored a paper with Congressman Sanford Bishop about Georgia's chicken industry. Along with being the co-chair of External Relations for the Mental Health Student Coalition for Georgia Tech she is also co-chair of Talks@Tech for Omicron Delta Kappa honor society. Talks@Tech is an initiative that brings international political leaders to campus to discuss controversial, global issues not discussed in the classroom. Namrata was also the co-chair of the SGA Sustainability Committee last year where she created the first-ever Greenovation and made Green Alliance an established component of Tech's environmental movement. 

When she’s not studying or in meetings, Namrata enjoys spending time with her first-year residents as a Peer Leader (RA) in Howell Residence Hall. She goes on to say, “I also enjoy watching Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, going through TIME's Top 100 books of all-time, and trying out new physical hobbies, the most recent one being salsa-dancing."

Lauren Merrit - January, 2015

Lauren Merritt is a 4th year student in Earth and Atmospheric Science concentrating in Meteorology. Her interests include severe weather, aviation, and mathematics. She first became interested in meteorology in the 4th grade when she read books about severe weather and natural disasters. Her freshman year in college she volunteered at the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, where she shadowed forecasters and learned how to launch weather balloons. During her sophomore year, she researched at GTRI in the Severe Storms Research Center in the Sensors and Electromagnetic Applications Laboratory. There she researched different audio signatures in thunderstorms. Her junior and senior year she interned at The Weather Channel and was a TA for EAS 1600. She is currently a TA for Atmospheric Chemistry and researches hurricanes with Dr. James Belanger. She is also finishing her Bachelors degree and is enrolled in the B.S./M.S. program working towards her Masters degree in Meteorology. After graduate school, she would like to work at The Weather Channel, Delta Airlines, or continue to do research in severe weather.

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