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Oshin Tyagi and Samantha Hopkins, doctoral students in the Wm Michael Barnes ’64 Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, were recognized for their research efforts through the Dr. Milden J. Fox Jr. ’69 and Mary P. Fox ’73 Fellowship and Barnes Doctoral Scholarship, respectively. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

The Wm Michael Barnes ’64 Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering at Texas A&M University continues to seek new ways to help financially support graduate students. The department is excited to award inaugural fellowships to two doctoral students. 

“These fellowships have a positive impact on our students,” said Dr. Lewis Ntaimo, department head. “They are valuable to alleviate living and other expenses on our graduate students so they can focus on their academics.”

Oshin Tyagi headshot
Oshin Tyagi, doctoral student, focuses on human factors and ergonomics research with Dr. Ranjana Mehta. | Image: Courtesy of Oshin Tyagi

Oshin Tyagi received the Dr. Milden J. Fox Jr. ’69 and Mary P. Fox ’73 Fellowship and incoming student Samantha Hopkins received the inaugural Barnes Doctoral Scholarship. 

Tyagi’s award rewards graduate students who are active participants in the department and are in good academic standing. She is a member of the Neuroergonomics Lab at Texas A&M. 

“This will definitely help alleviate some of that financial burden and help me be self-sufficient,” Tyagi said. “It's not very easy being a grad student, especially for international students, because our only source of income can be through the university.” 

Dr. Ranjana Mehta, associate professor in the department and the director of the Neuroergonomics Lab, nominated Tyagi for the award as her faculty advisor. 

“In addition to the rigor and discipline she applies to her science, she is committed to equity and inclusivity in her approach toward research, teaching and service activities,” Mehta said. “Her leadership, technical competency and passion are the characteristics that make her the ideal candidate for this fellowship, which also represents the best of our department.”

Tyagi also received a $10,000 grant from the Southwest Center for Occupational and Environmental Health Pilot Projects Research Training Program, funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The program supports novel research ideas by new faculty and senior graduate students planning a career in academia. Tyagi will serve as principal investigator of a yearlong research project to investigate the role of exoskeletons in reducing back injuries in occupations such as emergency response and health care. In this context, exoskeletons are devices worn by people to enhance and support physical capabilities.

More news on this project will be shared as the research moves forward.

Samantha Hopkins headshot
Samantha Hopkins, doctoral student, is interested in developing tools to help people self-manage mental health issues with Dr. Farzan Sasangohar. | Image: Texas A&M Engineering

Hopkins’ award recognizes students with excellent potential for academic success and those with exceptional research aptitude. Her research will focus on mitigating college students' mental health by developing and evaluating effective self-management tools and digital therapeutics.

“There's currently a huge uptick in mental health issues, especially with COVID and people being isolated,” Hopkins said.

Dr. Farzan Sasangohar, Hopkins’ faculty advisor and associate professor in the department, nominated her.

“Having observed many excellent Ph.D. students in our program succeed, I believe that the secret ingredient for academic success is the passion for the problem being addressed by research,” Sasangohar said. “Samantha’s excellent academic record, industry work experience, curiosity and passion for addressing mental health — an important societal issue — will fuel her academic thriving and makes her worthy of the Barnes Doctoral Scholarship.” 

Hopkins also received the College of Engineering Graduate Merit Fellowship, awarded to only one incoming doctoral student in the department.