Fellowship namesake scientists, from left to right: Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, Barbara McClintock, Rosalind E. Franklin, Marie Sklodowska Curie, Maryam Mirzakhani, Mildred Dresselhaus (photo credit: Bryce Vickmark, MIT), Janet L. Norwood.
These scholarships are awarded each year to outstanding graduate students seeking a doctoral degree in each of the college’s seven departments who are interested in the advancement of women in the sciences and related fields. The scholarships were established in 2018 to recognize students who have a record of significant professional achievements in their field and who are role models for other students in the college. Each scholarship is named in honor of an outstanding woman scientist or mathematician who not only made groundbreaking discoveries but also blazed the trail for others who have followed in their footsteps. Fellows in the program will host two distinguished lectures each year in the college, in honor of the women for whom the scholarships are named.
The Science Achievement Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin Graduate Scholarship in Astronomy and Astrophysics
Andrea Lin, graduate student in astronomy and astrophysics, is interested in exoplanets and astronomical instruments and plans to get involved in science outreach and teaching. Lin has given several research presentations since 2016 and used her knowledge of astronomy to work as a telescope operator at the University of Michigan. Her nominators said she has the “talents and the focus to become an excellent scientist” and “an intellectual leader in her graduate program.” Lin earned bachelor’s degrees in astronomy and astrophysics and in physics at the University of Michigan.
The scholarship in astronomy is named for Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin, who is most well known for her discovery that stars are made mainly of hydrogen and helium, a finding that contradicted the accepted paradigm at the time. She also determined that stars could be classified according to their temperature and was the first woman to be promoted to full professor in Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 1954.
The Science Achievement Barbara McClintock Graduate Scholarship in Biology
Emily Howerton, graduate student in biology, is interested in various topics in theoretical ecology, including using competition models to analyze how species spread and coexist. A professor of Howerton’s said that “she is the once-in-a-career student who does everything well, to a degree that is without peer.” Howerton earned bachelor’s degrees in mathematics and philosophy at the College of Wooster in Ohio.
The scholarship in biology is named for Barbara McClintock, who is recognized as a pioneer in modern genetics and plant biology for her discovery of “jumping genes,” or mobile genetic elements, for which she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1983. She is the only woman to receive an unshared Nobel Prize in that category and was the first woman elected as president of the Genetics Society of America in 1945.
The Science Achievement Rosalind E. Franklin Graduate Scholarship in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Stephanie Collins, graduate student in the Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology program, is interested in understanding how microorganisms interact with human bodies to cause infections and change metabolism. She has published two first-authored papers and one co-authored paper in scientific journals. A reviewer of one paper said “she successfully developed new bacteriological culture models using her own ideas and critical thinking based upon her own results, intuition, background reading, and originality.” Collins completed a bachelor’s and a master’s degree with honors in biochemistry and cell biology at the University of Western Ontario in Canada.
The scholarship in biochemistry and molecular biology is named for Rosalind Franklin, who is best known for producing X-ray diffraction data that was instrumental in determining the structure of DNA. She also determined the molecular structure of many viruses, including the tobacco mosaic virus, which provided the foundation for the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1982.
The Science Achievement Marie Sklodowska Curie Graduate Scholarship in Chemistry
Katherine Kidder, graduate student in chemistry, is interested in the field of theoretical chemistry, where she can utilize her skills in both chemistry and math. She has co-authored two scientific papers. A professor from her undergraduate studies commented that “she is the rare undergraduate research student who wants to figure things out on her own.” Kidder earned bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and mathematics at Franklin & Marshall College in Pennsylvania.
The scholarship in chemistry is named for Marie Sklodowska Curie, who received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1903 for her discovery of radioactivity and the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1911 for her discovery of polonium and radium. She is the first person to win the award twice and was the first female professor at the University of Sorbonne in Paris. Her techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes were used under her direction in the world’s first studies into the treatment of cancer.
The Science Achievement Maryam Mirzakhani Graduate Scholarship in Mathematics
Gabrielle Scullard, graduate student in the mathematics, hopes to pursue research in number theory. She was a teaching assistant for a first-year, proof-based calculus course and has tutored adults off-campus for a high school diploma equivalency class. She eventually plans to teach and conduct research at the university level. Her references commended her “strong intuition and mathematical talent.” She has also been greatly involved in environmental efforts on campus. Scullard received a bachelor’s degree with honors in mathematics at the University of Rochester in New York.
The scholarship in mathematics is named for Maryam Mirzakhani, who made several important contributions to theory describing the geometric space of one-dimensional Riemann surfaces. In 2014, she became the first woman and the first Iranian to win a Fields Medal, one of the highest honors in mathematics, by the International Mathematical Union. She was an elected member of the National Academy of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
The Science Achievement Mildred Dresselhaus Graduate Scholarship in Physics
Rebecca Ewing, graduate student in physics, is interested in gravitational astrophysics and hopes to localize the origins of gravitational waves using electromagnetic techniques. She previously researched the optical scattering of light from real surfaces with the Air Force Institute of Technology. A reference described her as “a bright, curious, hard-working and resourceful young researcher, eager to learn new techniques on her own.” Ewing completed her bachelor’s degrees in physics and math at Wright State University in Ohio.
The scholarship in physics is named for Mildred Dresselhaus, who mapped the electronic structure of carbon and is noted for her work on graphite and nanomaterials. She won several prestigious awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2014 and the National Medal of Science in 1990 and was the first woman to secure a full professorship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1968.
The Science Achievement Janet L. Norwood Graduate Scholarship in Statistics
Alyssa Hu, graduate student in statistics, is interested in applied statistics research and hopes to eventually become a professor. Her recommender has known Hu as a student, outreach ambassador, teaching assistant, and tutor and was “impressed by her maturity and reliability as well as her technical expertise.” Hu earned bachelor’s degrees in computer science and mathematics at the University of Maryland.
The scholarship in statistics is named for Janet Norwood, who was the first female commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from 1979 to 1991. She was instrumental in establishing many of the data collection instruments and databases still in use by the BLS and helped ensure data integrity by maintaining the Bureau’s independence from the political process.