3 UK Students Awarded Research Internships in Germany

headshot photos of Mohanad Abdallah, Emily Major and Jared Schmal/RISE - DAAD recipients
headshot photo of Emily Major
photo of Jared Schmal with bike on bridge
headshot photo of Mohanad Abdallah in suit

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 10, 2018) Three University of Kentucky students, Mohanad Abdallah, Emily Major and Jared Schmal, have been selected to receive Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) from the German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst – DAAD).

DAAD's RISE is a summer internship program for undergraduate students from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom in the fields of biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences and engineering. The internships give each student an opportunity to do research at one of Germany's top universities or research institutions. Around 300 students participate each summer.

RISE interns are matched with doctoral students whom they assist and who serve as their mentors. All scholarship holders receive stipends from DAAD to help cover living expenses, while partner universities and research institutes provide housing assistance.

The son of Mohamed Abdeen and Amany Elmaraghy, of Lexington, Mohanad Abdallah is a senior majoring in electrical engineering and Spanish at UK. He is part of Management Leadership for Tomorrow, has been active in UKSEDS (Students for the Exploration and Development of Space) and is a member of the National Society of Black Engineers. He also has served as a research assistant at UK’s Center for Applied Energy Research.

After graduation, Abdallah wants to work for a power/energy company as well as pursue an MBA.

The daughter of Emily Kate Major, of Lancaster, Kentucky, Emily Major is an agricultural and medical biotechnology senior, who is also pursuing minors in psychology and neuroscience. A Chellgren Fellow, she works in the lab of Luke Bradley, a faculty member in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry in the UK College of Medicine. The research she has worked on is related to her interest in neurodegenerative diseases.

“I have had the opportunity to collaborate on a project between the Department of Neuroscience and the Department of Horticulture on a biochemistry project,” Major said. “Meeting faculty members like Dr. (Roberta) Magnani and Dr. Bradley has greatly enriched my research experience.”

Major is excited to participate in RISE. “This scholarship will allow me to continue studying underlying mechanisms associated with neurodegenerative diseases, similar to my previous research at UK and studies as a neuroscience minor. I look forward to living in the Rhineland area for 10 weeks and making connections in the German scientific community.”

In addition to this internship, Major has been a recipient of a KY EPSCoR National Science Foundation Grant and was part of the Shoulder to Shoulder Medical Brigade that served citizens in Santo Domingo, Ecuador, this spring.

After graduation, Major would like to attend medical school and one day work as a physician in an underserved community.

The son of Linda Schmal, of Lebanon, Kentucky, and husband of Jessica Frazier, Jared Schmal is a mechanical engineering junior. He previously earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration, with a concentration in accounting, from Berea College in 2009.

After working in the accounting field for five years, Schmal decided to return to college to study mechanical engineering because he wanted his career to have a positive impact on the world. “I want a career where I worry about the quality and importance of my work, not just the bottom line. I would love to work on solving global climate change, increasing efficiency of buildings, or designing smart cities — jobs that improve the quality of life and strive for a sustainable economy.”

Schmal, who worked with Ilka Balk, director of Engineering Career Development, on his RISE application, is also excited for his experience abroad. “I get to work for 10 weeks at a top German university in a field that relates directly to my interests. It is an amazing opportunity! In addition to providing great research experience, the program is well known and will hopefully lead to more opportunities upon graduation from UK.”

After graduation, Schmal looks forward to returning to the workforce and someday obtaining a master’s degree in civil or mechanical engineering.

Students interested in applying for a RISE award are encouraged to contact the UK Office of Nationally Competitive Awards. Part of the Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence within the Division of Student and Academic Life at UK, the office assists current UK undergraduate and graduate students and recent alumni in applying for external scholarships and fellowships funded by sources (such as a nongovernment foundation or government agency) outside the university. These major awards honor exceptional students across the nation. Students who are interested in these opportunities are encouraged to begin work with the office's director, Pat Whitlow, well in advance of the scholarship deadline.

UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: uky.edu/uk4ky. #uk4ky #seeblue