Mark Lalli knew he’d become an engineer. “All the men in my family are engineers,” he says. And, because he “loved chemistry” in high school – chemical engineering was the perfect field.
The choice to attend UMass Lowell was almost as simple. Lalli was impressed with the faculty he met and the facilities he toured during an open house. “I looked at a few other schools in the area, but got the feeling they wouldn’t let undergraduates do research there, and that’s what I really wanted to do,” he says. “I couldn’t imagine getting the opportunity anywhere else.”
After the open house, he contacted chemical engineering professor, Dr. Sanjeev Manohar to express his interest in working in his lab that summer. To Mark’s delight, Manohar agreed. “Most undergrads don’t get to do research, so it was a great opportunity right out of high school,” Lalli says. He has been working in that lab every summer since. And, although he graduated from the University in May 2012, he can still be found there, throughout the summer, concluding his research and writing a paper he hopes to publish soon.
It was also Manohar who steered Lalli toward his current interests, “Dr. Manohar really got me into nano research,” he says. It was a great choice because, through his research co-op and internship, he and lab mate Neha Manohar had the opportunity to conduct interesting research in the field. They presented their findings at a national meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston, something undergrads had not previously been permitted to do.
It’s no surprise that the event organizer remarked that the pair’s presentations resembled those of senior grad students and post docs. After all, Lalli was Valedictorian of his high school’s graduating class, and enrolled at UMass Lowell on a Commonwealth Scholarship – reserved for the most academically qualified incoming freshmen. He also completed his bachelor’s degree at the University in just three years.
Despite his steadfast academic pursuits, Lalli found time to make lots of friends on campus and enjoyed attending hockey games. He is also a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and the American Nuclear Society, in addition to his induction into Omicron Delta Kappa, the National Leadership Honor Society and Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society.
Although he’ll miss Manohar’s lab and cheering on the River Hawks, Lalli looks forward to working toward his Ph.D. – as result of his research experience at UMass Lowell, he’s able to bypass a master's degree. He attends Northeastern in fall 2012.