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06/13/2014 05:40:14

Students Win National and International Prizes

Caltech students have collected an array of awards this spring, including two Fulbright grants, a Watson Fellowship, three Goldwater Scholarships, an American-Scandinavian Fellowship, six Department of Defense graduate fellowships, Caltech's San Pietro and Bishop Prizes, and 34 National Science Foundation Fellowships.

Fulbright Grant

Seniors Katja Luxem, who has earned a bachelor of science in chemistry and a master's degree in geobiology, and Stephanie Laga, who has earned her BS in chemistry, have been awarded Fulbright study/research grants for study in Switzerland and Germany, respectively. Luxem, a native of Durham, New Hampshire, will conduct research at ETH Zürich and EAWAG, the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology, on the cycling of selenium, an essential nutrient, in marine microbes. Laga, from Northridge, California, will head to Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nuremberg to work on the synthesis of earth-abundant metal complexes involved in a crucial step in water splitting, a method for converting solar energy into chemical energy to generate products with potential as alternative fuel sources.

The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government's premier scholarship program. Set up by Congress in 1946 to foster mutual understanding among nations through educational and cultural exchanges, Fulbright grants enable U.S. students and artists to benefit from unique resources in more than 150 nations around the world.

Thomas J. Watson Fellowship

Senior Hima Hassenruck-Gudipati, from La Cañada, California, has been named as one of this year's Watson Fellows. Established by the Thomas J. Watson Foundation in 1968, the Watson Fellowship offers graduating seniors of "unusual promise" a $28,000 stipend to support independent study and travel outside the United States. Hassenruck-Gudipati will examine the ancient rock record in Italy, South Africa, New Zealand, Nepal, and Norway, to explore the connection between changing Earth surfaces and environmental effects.

The fellowship, open to students from 40 participating institutions across the country, has so far granted over than 2,500 awards. Caltech has had 44 fellows since becoming a participating institution in 1973.

Barry Goldwater Scholarship

Juniors Adam Jermyn, Ann Wang, and Charles Tschirhart have been awarded scholarships by the federally endowed Barry Goldwater Foundation. After graduation, Jermyn, a physics major from Longmeadow, Massachusetts, plans to earn his PhD in theoretical condensed-matter physics; Wang, a physics major from Rochester, New York, will pursue her doctorate in high-energy physics; and Tschirhart, who hails from Naperville, Illinois, and studies applied physics and chemistry, will conduct graduate work in condensed-matter physics. Junior Lawrence Wang was awarded honorable mention in the competition. A biology major, Wang plans to earn his MD/PhD and to conduct translational biomedical research.

The Scholarship Program, honoring Senator Barry Goldwater, was designed to foster outstanding students and encourage them to pursue careers in the fields of mathematics, the natural sciences, and engineering. Since its first award in 1989, the foundation has bestowed 7,163 scholarships worth approximately $46 million, including 288 scholarships for the 2014–2015 academic year. The one- and two-year scholarships will cover the cost of tuition, fees, books, and room and board up to a maximum of $7,500 per year.

American-Scandinavian Fellowship

Senior Pushpa Neppala of Mount Kisco, New York, is the recipient of a fellowship from the American-Scandinavian Foundation, which provides individuals up to $23,000 to research or study in one or more Scandinavian countries for up to one academic year. Neppala will pursue postbaccalaureate research in biology at the University of Turku in Finland.

(NSF) National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships

Each spring, the National Science Foundation awards approximately 1,000 Graduate Fellowships and Minority Graduate Fellowships to students at or near the beginning of their graduate studies in science, mathematics, or engineering. NSF Fellows are expected to contribute significantly to the continued vitality of research, teaching, and industrial applications in their fields.

This year, nine graduating seniors—including Watson Fellowship winner Hima Hassenruck-Gudipati—and 25 graduate students have accepted NSF Fellowships for next year: seniors Eli Alster, Juliette Becker, Connor Coley, Jeff Han, Hima Hassenruck-Gudipati, Gregory Izatt, Jocelyn Kishi, Neeli Mishra, and Angad Rekhi; and graduate students Tonia Ahmed, Dana Anderson, Marin Anderson, Scott Barenfeld, Kelvin Bates, Catriona Blunt, Jeremy Brouillet, Kelly Burke, Joshua Buss, Gina Duggan, Matthew Fishman, Gregory Harlow, Jonathon Hunacek, Anupama Lakshmanan, Elizabeth Lunny, Benjamin Matson, Amy McCarthy, Jay Qi, Tanvi Ratani, Kevin Shen, Ottman Tertuliano, Daniel Torelli, Nicholas Weadock, Christopher White, and Ruijie Zhang.

In addition, 12 Caltech alumni have been chosen to receive NSF Fellowships: Zarathustra Brady (BS '12), Justine Chia (BS '11), Emmet Cleary (BS '12), Hanna Dodd (BS '13), Kevin Gu (BS '13), Luis Guerra (BS '12), Tsung-Ju Lu (BS '13), Sung Park (BS '13), Saraswathi Venkatesh (BS '13), Arun Venkatraman (BS '12), Joshua Yoon (BS '13), and Andrew Zucker (BS '13).

National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowships

Graduate students Aaron Pearlman, Nicholas Burali, Alice Chang, Jonathan Crompton, Rachel Miller, and Heather Duckworth have been named recipients of three-year Department of Defense (DOD) National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowships. The NDSEG award is given to applicants who have demonstrated the ability and special aptitude for advanced training in science and engineering, and who will pursue a doctoral degree in, or closely related to, an area of interest to the DOD.

San Pietro and Bishop Prizes

The San Pietro Travel Prize, endowed by Caltech graduate Craig San Pietro (BS '68, MS '69) and offered to allow individuals to travel for two weeks to three months during the summer in the United States or abroad, has been awarded to sophomores Jean-Alexandre Turban, Alex Pien, Emil Khabiboulline, and Vansh Kumar, and seniors Annie Ritch, David Ding, and Jeff Sherman.

Undergraduates Grace Leishman and Yanbing Zhu have been given the Amasa Bishop Prize. The prize, established by the Bishop family in honor of Amasa Bishop (BS, '43), funds students for two to 10 weeks during the summer months who have been accepted in an organized study-abroad program.

Written by Kathy Svitil