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Giovanni Milione

College: City College
Awards: National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, 2011

A Trio of Winning Students

Two City College of New York students and a recent graduate have won National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships to pursue search-based graduate study in the sciences. The 2011 award will provide $121,500 each over three years to graduating senior Anthony Pang, graduate student Giovanni Milione and alumna Evangeleen Pattison, '10.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship recognizes and supports exceptional students in science, technology, engineering or mathematics who have proposed graduate-level research projects in their fields. The award provides a $30,000 annual stipend and a $10,500 annual cost-of-education allowance. Fellows also gain international research and professional development opportunities and access to the TeraGrid Supercomputer for research analysis.

Pang, a mechanical engineering major who has done research in satellite design, among other areas, will follow his dreams to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for PhD studies in aeronautical and aerospace engineering in the fall. As a student in Professor Manuel Martinez-Sanchez's lab, he will research and develop plasma dynamic simulations for space thrusters.

He credits his undergraduate experience at City College for much of his success. "If you have the drive and the interest to innovate, you can really succeed on this campus," he says. "I followed all of my interests here."

Pang participated in projects involving robotics, biodiesel engine design, satellite thermal management and ice sheet modeling for Caltech/NASA. As a fellow with the Colin Powell Center for Policy Studies, he also participated in a service project leading undergrads in teaching high school engineering classes and wrote a policy paper. He is the president of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering society on campus.

Milione, an Iraq War veteran and son of immigrants from Italy and Bolivia, is pursuing a master's degree in physics and mathematics at CCNY. He conducts research on singular optics and complex light with the Institute for Ultrafast Spectroscopy and Lasers.

"There was something mysterious and elegant about both the physics and mathematics of light that captured my imagination," said Milione of his first exposure to optics, as an undergraduate at Stony Brook University.

In his research, Milione alters the structure of light, increasing the states of polarization, amplitude and phase within a beam to control it in time and space. The technique could be used to make spectroscopy incredibly sensitive or to grab small particles with light like a tractor beam. He will continue and expand on his research as a PhD student with Professor Robert Alfano.

Pattison, a sociology major who graduated magna cum laude last year, began investigating historical and current achievement gaps in higher education as an undergraduate at City College. At CCNY, she received undergraduate student paper awards from the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research and the Southern Demographic Association.

Pattison won the CCNY sociology department's Ward Medal in 2009 and was a City College Fellow and a Weston Fellow as an undergraduate. Now working toward a PhD at the University of Texas at Austin, she is affiliated with that university's Population Research Center and conducts research to examine ways in which race/ethnicity and class influence educational inequalities.

She also examines educational pathways into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers, working with UT Professor Chandra Muller.

"If the United States is to maintain its position as a global leader, it is urgent to develop a more complete understanding of why underrepresented minorities depart from STEM," she says.