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Honors and Awards

Meet the Wilson College of Textiles Students Awarded the VF Foundation’s Graduate Student Impact Awards 

Rearview image down the breezeway of the Wilson College of Textiles.

Eleven graduate students at the Wilson College of Textiles each received a $5,000 fellowship award to advance research within the apparel and footwear industries. 

The VF Foundation supports students whose research aligns with the VF Purpose and Guiding Principles and the Wilson College Strategic Plan. The VF Foundation is the private, grantmaking foundation funded by the VF Corporation, which includes brands like The North Face, Vans and Timberland. 

A board comprised of Wilson College faculty and administrators chose the winners from a pool of over 20 applicants based on how well each applicant’s proposal:

  • Related to the field of apparel and/or footwear.
  • Aligned with VF Venture Foundry principles
  • Aligned with the Wilson College of Textiles Strategic Plan.
  • Promoted diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Exhibited high quality, clarity and commitment.
  • Explained the impact of the financial support.

The winners’ research topics tackle various sectors of the industry, from 3D printing to the development of energy-producing footwear.

Connie Wong

Wong’s research focuses on using near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy to identify fiber content in textiles, allowing post-consumer waste from the apparel and footwear industries to be recycled. This project seeks to further understand how reliable current NIR technology is at identifying fiber types while considering additional variables such as fabric structure, fiber blends and wear.

Wong plans to use the award to supplement travel expenses, publication costs, and material and supply costs.

Dengyu Luo

Luo’s research aims to develop outdoor footwear that uses piezoelectric materials to convert pressure from walking into electrical energy. Luo’s skills in sustainable apparel design, innovative technology and 3D design will assist in the development of an innovative product that combines both fashion and functionality. 

Luo plans to use the award to support the costs of resources to carry out the smart-step research, collaborate with experts and create a prototype. 

Helen Wang

Wang’s research focuses on expanding upon the use of 3D printing technology in upcycling and recycling apparel and footwear. This project seeks to offer a better understanding of how 3D printing technology can be utilized to advance these sustainable practices.

This award will allow Wang to obtain the necessary tools, such as a fused deposition modeling 3D printer and filament. It will also financially support quantitative research via surveys, interviews and prototyping. 

Hyesim Seo

Seo’s research aims to analyze the impact of brand re-commerce, which involves the selling, buying or trading of pre-owned products. This study seeks to understand the relationship between re-commerce, consumer engagement and sustainability. Subsequently, Seo will be able to provide brands with insights to reduce textile waste by implementing circular post-consumer programs. 

Seo plans to use the funds to assist in research and data collection and travel to a conference where she can present her findings directly to brands and industry leaders. 

Jeanine Fry 

Fry’s research seeks to develop a manufacturing process for seamless woven pants using a shuttle weaving machine. This process will eliminate the need for cut-and-sew, reduce required manual labor and minimize waste. 

Fry plans to use this award to fund the research, develop a patent and cover start-up costs for her entrepreneurial pursuits. 

Keira Moore

Moore’s project focuses on developing an inclusive understanding of the consumer behavior of Black millennial women, a demographic that often gets overlooked in research. This project advocates for equity, collaboration and innovation by highlighting the impact of Black women relating to the fashion industry. 

Moore plans to use the award to fund herself and travel to the International Textile and Apparel Association conference where she can present her findings.

Muhammad Jawad UI Rehman

Rehman’s research explores environmentally friendly digital printing using natural and bio-based dyes. The project seeks to understand the practical application and consequences of using natural dye in digital printing. 

Rehman will use the funds to cover tuition, travel costs for conferences and publication costs.

Shraddha Yadav

Yadav’s research investigates the impact product descriptions have on consumer perceptions of value and sustainability, specifically for running shoes. This study seeks to understand how descriptions affect the prices consumers are willing to pay for products based on environmental consciousness.  

Yadav will use the funds to cover the costs of data collection and analysis, travel to conferences and publication.

Wenna Han

Han’s study seeks to understand consumer perceptions of design processes that incorporate artificial intelligence (AI). The study will compare various segments of the industry, such as luxury vs. non-luxury, and analyze consumer perception to provide brands with information about how to successfully incorporate AI into their design and marketing strategies. 

Han will use the award to fund data collection and travel to the International Textile and Apparel Association’s annual conference to present. 

Zezhao Li

Li’s research contributes to the innovation of wearable technology by developing a solid electrolyte of lithium-ion that can replace the liquid electrolyte. A liquid substitute would aid in the flexibility of batteries in wearable technology, allowing for more versatility in design.

Li plans to use the award to obtain materials, attend the Fiber Society Conference and cover publication costs.

Ziwen Qiu

Qiu’s research examines consumer perception of 3D apparel motion simulations. The project works to increase the accuracy of 3D apparel simulations based on the women’s activewear industry in the U.S. market. This will enhance computer-aided design technology and close the gap between visual perception and virtual simulation. 

Qiu will use this award to work with experts, purchase higher-quality technology for research and attend conferences.