Katie Maass, a senior chemical engineering student in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin, has been awarded a five-year $250,000 Hertz Foundation Fellowship to pursue graduate research that will fight cancer and improve drug delivery.
Maass is one of 15 students in the nation to receive the award out of 558 U.S. applicants. Recipients were selected based on intellect, ingenuity and potential to bring meaningful change to society.
"Katie's exceptional academic performance and leading research contributions are being recognized by one of the most prestigious national fellowships awarded only to the best of the best," said Dr. Nicholas Peppas, professor and chair of biomedical engineering, who is also an authority in pharmaceutical sciences and controlled drug delivery.
Maass has worked with Peppas for two years as a lab assistant and recently accepted an offer from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Ph.D. program starting next fall.
"My research will build on work I've done with Dr. Peppas, such as a project improving drug targeting specifically to cancer cells," Maass said. "Work on diagnostic projects also interests me, to detect if someone has cancer earlier, easier and more accurately. My goal is to make a meaningful impact on people's well-being."
Hertz Fellowships are unique, no-strings-attached grants that empower young scientists and engineers to innovate. Of the 75 Hertz Fellows in graduate schools nationwide, all chemical engineering Fellows are students at The University of Texas at Austin.
"These men and women show extraordinary promise to carry forward the mission of this foundation. They make a community of leaders who produce advances in science, medicine, technology, business, academia and government," said Hertz Foundation President Dr. Jay Davis. "Scientists and engineers are only 4 percent of the U.S. workforce, but they account for up to 85 percent of the gross domestic product. We believe their creativity and risk-taking bring forth innovation for the most pressing problems faced today."