Jun 4, 2009 — When Sam Blass began studying protein crystallization with Dr. Neer Asherie, assistant professor of physics and biology at Yeshiva University (YU), he became so enamored with nanotechnology that he decided to major in chemistry instead of his previous pre-med track. The move paid off as Blass was recently accepted to the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program. The program offers fellowships to outstanding students in their early stages of pursuing a research based Master’s or PhD degree.
“All those hours in the lab made me want to do more of this,” said Blass, who is entering the PhD program in materials science at the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities this fall after spending three years researching with faculty at YU, including his mentor, Dr. Asherie, and Dr. Anatoly Frenkel, Stern College for Women professor of physics. Blass will receive a $30,000 stipend plus extra money for expenses to study with a mentor in graduate school for three years.
At Minnesota, Blass will be studying both chemical engineering and materials science—the “study of any material—solid, circuits, concretes, metals,” he explained. “It’s very interdisciplinary, which is what attracted me to it.”
The Paramus, NJ, resident was one of four scholars awarded the first annual Henry Kressel Research Scholarship, a fellowship established to perpetuate YU’s student research community, in 2008. He was also one of four students across the country selected to participate in NASA’s Undergraduate Student Research Program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, where he studied carbon nanotubes in fall 2007.
“Graduate school will give me the opportunity to pursue research ideas for a longer time,” Blass said. “Hopefully resulting in more publications and a greater sense of independence.”
As for his future career? “Right now I’m thinking of going into industry, but that can change to government or academia…”
For a bright chemistry student, the world is full of possibilities.