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Five Barrett students to research in STEM fields in Germany this summer

Five Barrett Honors College students will engage with the global community while gaining technical expertise in STEM fields through The German Academic Exchange Service (Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, or DAAD) this summer.

DAAD is the world's largest funding organization for the international exchange of students and researchers. Through its various grant, scholarship, and internship programs, it supports the internationalization of German universities and promotes German studies and the German language abroad.

Under the umbrella of DAAD is the DAAD-RISE (Research Internships in Science and Engineering) Program. DAAD-RISE offers prestigious summer STEM research internships at top German universities for sophomore and junior undergraduate students. In their internships, which are from May through August, students work with doctoral students and attend an international conference in Heidelberg with other DAAD recipients. As part of their award, students receive a monthly stipend, health insurance, housing assistance and a travel allowance to the three-day RISE Germany meeting in Heidelberg at the beginning of July.  About 300 scholarships are available each year and over 1,500 students apply to the program on average.

“The DAAD-RISE program is particularly competitive due to its international applicant pool. These Barrett students not only competed against other students in the U.S., but they stood out in an applicant pool that included top STEM candidates from Canada, Great Britain and Ireland. We are very proud as they represent a fantastic range of majors, research projects and backgrounds,” said Kyle Mox, director of the Office of National Scholarship Advisement, which assisted the students with their applications.

The DAAD-RISE winners from Arizona State University are:

Maria Dooling, a biochemistry and political science junior, who will do research in Mainz.

Maria Dooling

“I'm extremely excited to have been chosen for the DAAD-RISE Program. I feel very honored that another country felt that I was valuable enough to invest in for a summer. This program is unique because it gives me access to cutting edge scientific research as well as a language course in German, so it's quite ideal due to its multi-pronged curriculum,” Dooling said.

Dooling will be at the Johannes Gutenberg University where she will conduct research on malaria and Leishmaniasis, both diseases caused by parasites transmitted through insect bites. Specifically, she will study parasitic cysteine protease inhibitors, promising targets for anti-parasitic therapies.

“It's really at the crux of my interests in global health, disease prevention, and health equity. I'm hoping to acquire a new skill set, as this research is fairly different than the research I do here at ASU. I'm also hoping to meet a lot of people in Germany and explore the country and culture as much as possible,” she said.

Dooling aspires to complete a master’s in public health and work for the World Health Organization, focusing on women’s health or refugees and internally displaced persons, those people who are forced to flee their homes but are still within their country’s borders.

“I consider health care to be a right, so expanding access to marginalized communities is of the utmost importance to me. Since the research I'll be doing focuses on malaria and other parasitic diseases, it's extremely relevant to my future goals,” Dooling said, adding that according to the CDC, over 200 million cases of malaria occurred in 2016 and just under 500,000 people, mostly children, died.

“There can sometimes be a disconnect between research done and policy implemented, so I hope to better understand why this occurs. As a biochemistry major, with minors in political science and international studies, this interests me a lot. The work I hope to do in the future also requires international cooperation and coordination, so working internationally for a summer will allow me to have a better understanding of other systems and stakeholders. Additionally, Germany is at the forefront of scientific research and innovation, so I'm excited to be learning in that environment.” 

Ryan Kirakofe, a junior mechanical engineering, materials science and engineering major, who will be at the HafenCity Universität in Hamburg, Germany’s second-largest city.

Ryan Kiracofe

“I am so excited to be able to spend the summer developing my engineering skills while also being able to spend the summer abroad. It will be a lot more rewarding than simply spending the summer at an internship in the industry. I'll spend my entire life working, so it'll be more fun to explore a new culture while still building valuable experience,” he said.

Kirakofe will focus on developing design strategies for energy efficient buildings. “In my career, I plan to help reduce the energy demand for the built environment by promoting sustainable building design and creating energy efficient envelopes. This internship will focus on developing strategies to design inherently more energy efficient buildings, which will go a long way in helping steer my career orientation,” he said.

In addition to research work in Hamburg, Kirakofe will spend a few weeks in a German language and culture course in Cologne.

Hezekiah Grayer, a sophomore aerospace engineering major, whose host city will be Dresden.

“I am overjoyed but also magnitudes more busy. It is a task that I must pour all my focus onto, and I am ready to do so. I feel incredibly motivated to improve myself and represent ASU well in Germany,” Grayer said.

Grayer, whose goal is to work in the area of aircraft safety improvement, will participate in a project focused on composite rotor safety at the Technical University of Dresden, in Dresden.

“I hope to learn valuable research experience in engineering. I would also like to have great cultural exchange with a country of remarkable history,” he said.

Grayer said he believes the DAAD-RISE program will give him relevant experience he can use to achieve his goal of interning for an engineering startup called Lilium Aviation in Munich.

Other Barrett students who will participate in the DAAD-RISE program are:

Ndeye Maty Tall, a junior international student from Senegal majoring in electrical engineering, who will be in Ingoldstat.

Stephen Despars, a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering, who will be in Sulzbach-Rosenberg.