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Four Loyola students named University Innovation Fellows

Christina Gambrell, ’23, Hannah Mannering, ’23, Natalia Medina Lozada, ’23, Meghan Oddy, ’23
From top-left to bottom-right: Christina Gambrell, ’23, Hannah Mannering, ’23, Natalia Medina Lozada, ’23, Meghan Oddy, ’23

Four Loyola students have been selected University Innovation Fellows (UIF) by Stanford University. UIFs are students who are challenged with bringing innovative ideas to their university to help foster problem-solving and innovation through design thinking.

The recipients are Christina Gambrell, ’23, a marketing major from Baltimore, Md.; Hannah Mannering, ’23, an Elkton, Md., native who is double majoring in data science and computer science; Natalia Medina Lozada, ’23, a mechanical engineering major with a minor in biomedical physics from Bayamon, P.R.; and Meghan Oddy, ’23, a mechanical and materials engineering major with a minor in theology from Flemington, N.J.

The four Loyola students are among 198 students from 45 higher education institutions in 14 countries who have been named University Innovation Fellows. 

“There is tremendous satisfaction in being part of a program that bills itself as a ‘virtual community of changemakers’ and one that provides a unique opportunity to work with Loyola’s faculty and fellow students to create change on campus,” said Oddy, who is also a member of the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Club and Ultimate Frisbee Club. “It also allows me to grow personally and professionally.”

UIF, which is a program of Stanford University’s Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, was created by the National Center for Engineering Pathways to Innovation (Epicenter) and funded by a five-year National Science Foundation grant. Loyola joined the program in 2017. Suzanne Keilson, Ph.D., associate professor of engineering, Bahram Roughani, Ph.D., associate dean for the natural and applied sciences, and Wendy Bolger, director of the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship, serve as mentors to the fellows.

“The fifth cohort of the University Innovation Fellows at Loyola has demonstrated their ability to be agile and nimble while being away from our beautiful campus at this time,” said Roughani. “Our UIFs have demonstrated their leadership and ability to be agents of change by moving their project forward, despite pandemic challenges. They are more than ready; they are Loyola Ready.”    

Past cohorts from the University have led efforts through the Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship such as establishing makerspaces in the Loyola/Notre Dame Library and residence halls, and planning life-hack and TEDx events, and launched the Green Bandana Brigade program. This year, the cohort is working to develop a Near-Peer Mentorship Program for Underrepresented Students in STEM at Loyola that pairs first-year or sophomore students (as mentees) with a junior or a senor student (as mentors). The mentors will help mentees navigate through issues such as course selection, accessing resources, and getting an introduction to conducting research, which have shown to disproportionally challenge students of color in STEM. 

“This will create a support system for students to help each other and enhance the sense of belonging, which can enhance student retention and foster their success toward degree completion,” said Roughani. “Our UIFs are looking to start this through a pilot project and then expand it to a campus-wide effort.”