2019 Dean’s Doctoral Fellows

(L to R): Associate Dean Farrukh Alvi, Jackie Jermyn, Brian Van Stratum and engineering Dean J. Murray Gibson.

(L to R): Associate Dean Farrukh Alvi, Jackie Jermyn, Brian Van Stratum and engineering Dean J. Murray Gibson.


In 2018, engineering dean J. Murray Gibson initiated the Dean’s Engineering Fellows Program, a new graduate funding area facilitated through the Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Studies. The initiative aims to enhance the quality and number of engineering Ph.D. students at the college.

In 2018, Eugenia Stanisauskis, David Perez and Shannon Helsper were the first recipients of the fellowships. Two new doctoral fellows, Brian Van Stratum and Jackie Jermyn received fellowships in the fall of 2019. Van Stratum is pursuing a doctoral degree in mechanical engineering and Jermyn is pursuing a Ph.D. in electrical engineering.

Jermyn has her sights set on becoming a U.S. Navy researcher. She is working on mobile robot navigation, specifically with simultaneous localization and mapping that allows robots to map and determine their position within their environments.

“This fellowship has really been helpful to me,” Jermyn says. “I appreciate it and want to thank the college for all the support I’ve received while earning my B.S, M.S. and now my Ph.D.”

Van Stratum would ultimately like to work in research and development at a university, government laboratory or with private industry. His research area of interest is “soft” robotics. These robots have thousands of points where they can bend and mimic creatures like an octopus or eel. Such “squishy” robots interact with their environment in a fundamentally different way than traditional robots with rigid structures.

“Personally, it’s really exciting to use robots to do something that a human just can’t do or currently can’t be done,” Van Stratum said. “I am so thankful to be a recipient of the fellowship, without this help I may not have been able to pursue my dream to be involved in the robotics field.”

Farrukh Alvi is Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies and is the administrator for the program. The Dean’s Engineering Fellows Program provides a four-year fellowship, including assistantships, with a minimum of $34,000 per year plus tuition waivers.

“We are delighted to award the 2019 Dean’s Fellows,” Alvi says. “This program is a recognition of these students’ commitment to graduate studies and we look forward to attracting more highly motivated graduate students to engineering.”

To date, five students have been awarded this fellowship. In the future, the college hopes to provide funding for many more outstanding students as Dean’s Doctoral Fellows.

New Fellows began their Ph.D. at the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering in fall 2019.