Two engineering students at The University of Texas at Austin are among only 15 students in the nation selected this year to receive a five-year, $250,000 Hertz Foundation Fellowship to pursue graduate research at the university of their choice.
Kelly Moynihan, a senior in the Cockrell School of Engineering's Department of Biomedical Engineering, and Anjali Datta, a student in the school's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department, were selected out of 600 applicants to receive the fellowships, each of which is valued at $250,000.
"These men and women show extraordinary promise. They join the community of leaders who produce advances in science, medicine, technology, business, academia and government," Jay Davis, Hertz Foundation president, said of the students selected for fellowships.
The Hertz Fellowship is considered to be the nation's most generous support for graduate education in the applied physical, biological and engineering sciences. The fellowships are unique, no-strings-attached grants that empower young scientists and engineers to innovate. Fellows undergo a highly completive selection process and are chosen for their intellect, ingenuity and potential to bring meaningful improvement to society.
Last year, University of Texas at Austin chemical engineering graduate Katie Maass was also selected for a Hertz Fellowship.
"I am very proud to have two students from the Cockrell School among the 15 nationwide selected this year for this highly prestigious fellowship," said Gregory L. Fenves, dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering. "Our mission is to develop future engineers who are the brightest, most innovative and committed in their field. Anjali and Kelly have achieved this through their hard work and creativity in the classroom, the research lab and in their service to the university."
Moynihan, of Austin, says she was motivated to pursue biomedical engineering in high school when her father was diagnosed with advanced renal cell carcinoma, and her graduate school research will focus on developing new types of cancer treatment. She has worked as an undergraduate research assistant in Professor George Georgiou's lab to characterize a novel method of antibody identification.
She has also taken leadership roles in organizations whose missions are centered on mentoring, outreach and service, including leading a team of mentors to work with low-income middle school students every week through Student Engineers Educating Kids. Moynihan also mentors freshmen through the Cockrell School's Women in Engineering Program (WEP) and served as vice president of the Biomedical Engineering Honor Society. Additionally, she helped found the Biomedical Engineering Student Giving Campaign to establish an endowed fund for future generations of undergraduate students in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.
Moynihan will pursue a Ph.D. at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Biological Engineering Department.
Datta, of Grapevine, will graduate in May 2012 with honors in electrical and computer engineering, liberal arts and natural sciences.
Datta is an Ernest Cockrell Jr. Engineering Scholar, the top scholarship awarded in the Cockrell School of Engineering, and a Robert H. Dedman Distinguished Scholar, the top scholarship in the College of Liberal Arts. Her undergraduate research has been on retinal image processing for a glaucoma diagnosis system in Biomedical Engineering Professor Mia Markey's lab.
Datta has served as a leader in numerous student organizations, including the Engineering Honors Council, Eta Kappa Nu (the Electrical Engineering Honor Society) and the Society of Women Engineers. She has also served as a tutor with the Equal Opportunity in Engineering Program and as a mentor with the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and WEP.
Datta has not yet decided where she will pursue her Ph.D. degree.