The Fannie and John Hertz Foundation selected three MIT students this year as recipients of its prestigious scholarships: Allen Liu ’20, Alex Miller ’21 and Isabelle Yan Phinney ’20. In addition, two Hertz fellows from other undergraduate institutions will soon be joining the MIT community as doctoral students: Kartik Chandra (computer science) and Alexander Zlokapa (physics).
The foundation awarded 12 scholarships in total, chosen from a pool of over 900 applicants from across the country.
“The 2021 Hertz Fellows epitomize the kind of transformative scientific talent our country and the world need now,” said Robbee Baker Kosak, President of the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation. “The fellows we have selected demonstrate an unusual capacity for creative exploration and problem-solving. We are delighted to support their research and look forward to the impact these fellows will have on our future.
The Hertz Foundation scholarships are unusual in that they provide recipients with five-year doctoral-level research funding (up to $ 250,000) and freedom of movement to pursue their research interests, wherever they are. lead. Since the creation of the prizes in 1963, the Hertz Foundation has funded more than 1,200 researchers. Recipients receive lifelong mentoring and professional support and join a network of highly accomplished alumni. To date, the Hertz Fellows have founded over 200 companies, hold over 3,000 patents and have received over 200 prestigious awards, including Nobel Prizes and MacArthur Fellowships.
To date, there are 423 MIT laureates; of these, 126 were undergraduates at the Institute and 275 received doctorates from MIT. Several notable professors have received Hertz scholarships, including Edward Boyden, professor of brain and cognitive sciences, and Kevin Esvelt, assistant professor of media arts and sciences.
This year’s MIT recipients plan to pursue a variety of research interests in computer science and physics.
Allen Liu ’20 majored in mathematics and stayed at MIT for his PhD in Computer Science, focusing on developing algorithms with provable guarantees for a variety of fundamental learning problems in learning preferences, robust statistics and other areas. Together with mathematics professor Ankur Moitra, Liu developed an efficient algorithm that proves to learn the parameters of a mixture of Gaussians from samples, even in the midst of contradictory noise.
Alex Miller ’21 graduated from the Institute with a bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer and Physics. As an undergraduate student, he researched the infrastructure of deployable lunar towers and signal processing for physical oceanography. Miller has also completed several internships, developing technical skills in areas such as controls, digital electronics design, and space systems engineering. He plans to continue his studies in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and is particularly interested in using multidisciplinary skills in engineering and science to advance the exploration of harsh environments on Earth and in space, and in looking for ways to increase human sustainability.
Isabelle Yan Phinney ’20 is currently a doctoral candidate in chemical physics at Harvard University, where she studies the physics of condensed matter in the two-dimensional limit. As an undergraduate student at MIT, she conducted research on an optical vacuum parametric oscillator for the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory. For two years, she worked in the laboratory of physics professor Pablo Jarillo-Herrero on twisted bilayer graphene (TBG), exploring TBG as a platform for hydrodynamic behavior, and studied electron-electron and electron-interactions. phonon at small torsion angles.