Sunday, May 15, 2022

Anvay Pradhan

Hometown: West Des Moines, IA

Undergraduate Degree(s): Mechanical Engineering, College of Engineering

Graduate Programs: Mechanical Engineering & Scientific Computing at the University of Michigan

What is/was the focus of your research at Iowa?

During undergrad, I worked on research projects ranging from tribology to space physics instrumentation to industrial robotics. Most of my time has been in the Controls, Automation, and Robotics (CAR) lab working under Dr. Phil Deierling in the College of Engineering. We work to create robots and robot-related systems like robotic vision systems or low-cost educational robotic arms. More recently, I got the chance to work with researchers at Caltech to develop an origami-inspired metamaterial with tunable permeability. As a PhD student, I plan to work in soft robotics, specifically on modeling, simulation, and design of compliant, biomimetic robots.

What drew you toward that topic?

Coming into college, I was interested in two research areas: space and robotics. Part of it was a childhood fascination, the other was experiences like competing in FIRST Tech Challenge (a robotics competition) during high school. I pursued both areas before narrowing my focus to robotics.

What advice do you have for undergrads looking to apply for the NSF GRFP?

Ask for help and don't hesitate to start over. I made lots of mistakes, both in my research and in my application. I asked probably about 20 people to read my drafts and most of the comments were negative. Within two weeks, I rewrote my essays from scratch eight times. My final version looked nothing like my first one. Rely on the experience/success of others to guide you and don’t get discouraged. But also know that you don’t need to listen to every single piece of advice you get. Some people are better at reviewing than others.

What have the resources provided from the fellowship allowed you to accomplish/pursue?

I hope the resources provided by the fellowship will enable me to pursue the things I'm truly motivated by and delve deeper into my specific research area. Often, grad students have to go work wherever the money is. However, going into my PhD with my own source of funding allows me to do the things I want.  I hope that being able to say I'm an NSF Graduate Research Fellow will open doors for opportunities whether that's future employment or collaborations with people working on interesting projects. 

To learn more about the NSF GRFP and this year's recipients from the University of Iowa, see the article in Iowa Now. 

Application development support is available for rising seniors and alumni who are applying after graduation from Iowa, but before they apply to graduate programs for the following academic year.  Students interested in applying for the 2022-23 NSF GRFP competition should schedule an initial consult with the Office of Scholar Development to learn more about the application process and relevant resources as soon as they are aware of their interest in the fellowship.