UMass Selects ChE Senior Gabriella Curry as Its Fall Scholar Athlete
Renaissance woman Gabriella (Ella) Curry – a senior in the Chemical Engineering (ChE) Department from Collegeville, Pennsylvania – has transformed her perfect GPA as an undergrad, her concurrent master’s program, her derring-do on the soccer field, and her internship in the university’s Core Facility for Raman, IR, and XRF Spectroscopy (spectroscopy core facility) into the prestigious award as the UMass Amherst Fall Scholar Athlete. And she did all that despite the debilitating pandemic that has swept the world during much of her time at UMass Amherst.
“Ella started her undergraduate studies at UMass in the Fall of 2020, at the height of the pandemic,” said Professor and ChE Department Head Dimitri Maroudas during the December 13 UMass Amherst Sports Luncheon, at which Curry was honored exclusively as the university’s Scholar Athlete for the fall semester. “In spite of these challenging initial conditions, she did an amazing job in her studies and academic performance over the past 3.5 years.”
As Maroudas added, “Ella chose Chemical Engineering as her major, which is a challenging field of study with core courses like thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, reactor engineering, and chemical-plant design. I have been in Chemical Engineering and in the academic world for four decades now, and I can tell you that it is not that common to celebrate a star athlete who can also engineer chemical reactors and design chemical plants.”
Curry is scheduled to graduate in May with her B.S. degree in Chemical Engineering, and she is simultaneously enrolled in an accelerated (4+1) Master’s Program in Business Analytics, which she will complete in December of 2024 while continuing to play soccer for UMass as a graduate student.
Curry has become an expert at chemically combining scholarship and athletics. Notwithstanding her demanding ChE coursework, her additional internship in the spectroscopy core facility, and her simultaneous master’s program, Curry also serves as the captain of the UMass Women’s Soccer Team, and she has been selected to the “Atlantic 10 All-Academic Teams” of 2022 and 2023.
This was Curry’s first experience working with the spectroscopy core facility, which provides resourceful advanced spectroscopic analysis of versatile organic and inorganic samples, including agricultural, environmental, food, and biomedical materials, as well as polymers and heavy metals. She applied to this program because she wanted to see if research was something she would be interested in pursuing in the long run. See https://www.umass.edu/ials/core-summer-intern-gabriella-curry.
At the spectroscopy core facility, one of Curry’s experiments focused on detecting bacteria using smartphone microscopes. She also worked on a project detecting silver nanoparticles, and she said she was very excited to use Raman spectroscopy on this project and learn more about it.
As Curry explained, “The most rewarding part for me is working with my supervisor and receiving feedback on all the work I’ve done. Also, learning how to present the work I’ve done in a way for people with no background knowledge on the topic to understand has been very cool as well.”
According to Maroudas, an avid soccer devotee, “If you are a soccer fan, or a student of the beautiful game, you know that, in order to win games, you have to dominate the midfield: Ella is a midfielder, what we call a box-to-box midfielder playing in the number 8 position.”
Maroudas also reported on Curry’s hectic schedule.
“What is truly amazing is that these young athletes play some 20 competitive games over a three-month season with 10 or so away games that require multiple day trips,” said Maroudas. “Superposing this grueling schedule onto a most demanding engineering curriculum, it is impossible to not admire such achieving student athletes. Ella represents the very best of them on both fronts: academics and athletics.”
Maroudas concluded his remarks by saying that “In addition to her impressive accomplishments as a scholar athlete, Ella is a very kind individual, a true team player, and an outstanding citizen of our department. For example, she has been helping us recently to recruit some excellent student athletes in Chemical Engineering who are also being recruited by the [UMass] Diving and Swim Teams.”
Oh, and incidentally, one of Curry’s hobbies is preparing mouth-watering pasta dishes from scratch! (January 2024)