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WVU engineering students earn University fellowships

Headshot of WVU engineering students Hunter Snoderly and Neel Gupta.

Hunter Snoderly and Neel Gupta were awarded prestigious University fellowships. 


Two West Virginia University engineering students have received prestigious University Fellowships. 

Upcoming doctoral student and Morgantown native Hunter Snoderly was awarded a one-year University Provost Fellowship, while Neel Gupta was awarded WVU’s Outstanding Merit Fellowship for Continuing Doctoral Students. The fellowships provide a University tuition waiver, college tuition scholarship, stipend and health insurance.

Snoderly is currently a biomedical engineering major in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. He will be among the inaugural class of students enrolled in the College’s new graduate program in biomedical engineering that will launch this fall.  

Snoderly will be conducting research with Margaret Bennewitz, assistant professor of chemical and biomedical engineering, to examine breast cancer metastasis to the lungs. The pair will be collaborating with investigators at WVU’s Health Sciences Center to analyze spontaneous mouse models that mimic human disease to visualize each step of breast cancer metastasis.

“Hunter will have the opportunity to use cutting-edge imaging modalities to study how the tumor microenvironment promotes breast cancer metastasis to the lungs,” said Bennewitz. “Based on our findings, we will design targeted nanoparticle drug delivery vehicles to kill the primary breast cancer cells and prevent their migration to the lungs. Hunter’s proposed project has the potential to greatly impact breast cancer patient care and save lives.”

“I was elated to learn that I had received the prestigious Provost Fellowship,” said Snoderly. “WVU afforded me many opportunities throughout my undergraduate career and the opportunity to work with Dr. Bennewitz adds to the ever-growing list of such occasions for which I am profoundly grateful.”

Gupta, an international student from Rajasthan, India, received his bachelors and master’s degree in mining engineering from the Indian School of Mines in Dhanbad, India, before relocating to WVU as a doctoral student in mining engineering.

Working with Brijes Mishra, associate professor of mining engineering, Gupta has been investigating the fundamental causes of roof collapses in underground coal mines in hopes of improving overall mine safety.

“Neel is investigating the time-dependent behavior of rocks at the microscopic level,” said Mishra. “His research will help us understand the formation and development of cracks and fractures that propagate over time and cause failure in rocks. We have a thorough understanding at the macroscopic level, however understanding the microscopic level will aid us in improving our roof support capability.”

Identifying the cause of roof failures at the microscopic level will allow Gupta to develop indicators that can be installed in underground mine entries to detect potential collapses, which will prevent mine fatalities and loss of coal mines production. 

“I was overwhelmed with happiness and couldn’t believe that I have been selected for this prestigious fellowship,” said Gupta. “I feel honored that my research is getting recognized among my peers in college.”

“I am extremely lucky to have outstanding graduate students like Gupta,” said Mishra. “He works tirelessly to improve his research, collaborates with fellow graduate students and is not shy of either taking comments or suggesting ideas to fellow researchers. This award will further motivate him to pursue and publish his work, visit mines and overall improve mine safety through fundamental research.”

Gupta was also the recipient of the 2017-2018 Syd S. and Felicia F. Peng Ground Control in Mining Scholarship and Mining Engineering Faculty Graduate Award.



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