Pawtucket resident set to graduate from URI after ‘best year of my life’

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Top engineering student heads to Princeton for grad school

KINGSTON, R.I. — May 9, 2006 — When Meghan Bellows graduates from the University of Rhode Island on May 21, she’ll look back on an undergraduate career that included complex engineering research, several scholarships and honor society inductions, tae kwon do classes, and participation in the URI marching band and pep band.

She’ll also look back fondly on a year she calls the best of her life.

Bellows has earned degrees in chemical engineering and German through the University’s International Engineering Program, and between her junior and senior years at URI she spent a year in Germany studying at the Technical University at Braunschweig and interning at the global chemical company BASF.

“It was absolutely the best year of my life,” said the Tolman High School graduate. “I was there with all the best friends I’ve made here at URI, I loved the cultural experience and learning the German language, and I traveled almost every weekend.”

At BASF, she worked on a research project to evaluate the company’s supply chain and its numerous manufacturing plants to optimize and economize their operation. “It was different from what I expected,” Bellows said, “but I used a lot of the tools that I learned on the job in my senior design class this year, so it was useful and gave me really good experience.”

Her internship was not her first research experience. During the summer following her freshman year at URI, Bellows studied the chemicals used in flame-retardants – polybromiated diphenyl ethers — to learn how they are released into the environment. A year later she used computer modeling to study hydrogen production in fuel cells.

This latter project helped convince her that she wanted to pursue a career conducting computational chemical engineering research, a field in which mathematical models and computer algorithms are used to collect data when it’s too difficult to collect data through traditional experimentation. Bellows has been accepted into a doctoral program at Princeton University to continue her education in this field.

“The project I’m most interested in at Princeton is looking at complex biological systems where it’s very difficult to collect data experimentally, and taking a different approach by formulating equations to simulate the complexities of the human biological system,” explained Bellows, who was awarded the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in 2004, the most prestigious national scholarship for undergraduate students studying science and engineering. At commencement ceremonies, she will also be presented with the URI College of Engineering’s Nelson M. White Award, for creativity in engineering.

When she first enrolled at URI, she wasn’t convinced she had made the right college choice, but she was quickly convinced. “I’m really glad about my decision,” she concluded. “I’ve had a fantastic time, I enjoyed learning German, and my year abroad was more than I could have ever imagined.”

URI News Bureau photo by Michael Salerno Photography.