UCLA bioengineering graduate student Trinny Tat has received a National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, considered one of the country’s most prestigious honors for graduate students beginning their studies. The fellowship program is sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Army Research Office and the Office of Naval Research, under the direction of the Office of the Under Secretary for Defense Research and Engineering.
Fellows receive an award which covers their tuition and fees for up to three years. They also receive a monthly stipend of $3,200, with up to $1,200 for medical insurance. Tat was one of approximately 160 graduate students across the country who received the fellowship for 2020.
Tat researches triboelectric nanogenerators — an energy-harvesting solution that converts various simple motions, such as finger tapping, breathing, walking, eye movements and pulses, into electricity. These generators work by harnessing the triboelectric effect, which causes materials to become electrically charged after coming into frictional contact with each other before separating. Specifically, she aims to develop wearable biosensors, powered by these nanoscale generators, which could be used in technologies for personalized medicine.
Tat is advised by Jun Chen, assistant professor of bioengineering, and is a member of his Wearable Bioelectronics Research Group. Prior to UCLA Samueli, Tat received her bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering with a minor in mathematics from the University of Arizona. She also held a chemistry internship at HP Inc., where she co-authored a quality-control patent on one of the company’s chemical sensors.
Tat is one of two 2020 NDSEG fellows at UCLA. The other, Kelsi Rutledge, is a graduate student in biology who is co-advised by Jeff Eldredge, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.