2013-14 Hugh Hampton Young Fellows Named


May 24, 2013

Four new graduate students and one continuing recipient have been chosen to receive the prestigious Hugh Hampton Young Memorial Fund Fellowship in 2013-14. The fellowship, named for the pioneering medical researcher Hugh Hampton Young, is a highly selective research fellowship at MIT. Recipients are chosen not only for academic achievement, but also exceptional personal and character strengths, weighing heavily the perceived overall potential of the candidate to have a positive impact on humanity.

Painting by Eric G. Haupt; oil on canvas, 39.5 by 31.5 inches, 1931.

McGovern_SquareRonan Killian McGovern is a Ph.D. student in the Mechanical Engineering Doctoral Program with a minor in finance and economics.  He received a BE in mechanical engineering at the University of College Dublin and Masters degree in mechanical engineering at MIT.  McGovern’s research is concerned with developing a novel electrodialysis system designed specifically for a new regime of high concentration desalination.  McGovern says that, “In a time of changing climates, I believe desalination will play a crucial role in stabilizing the supply of water to humans rich and poor.”

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Shiben_banerji_photoShiben Banerji, a continuing Young fellow, is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Architecture (having also received a Master in City Planning from MIT).  An aspiring academic researcher, he studies urban design from a global and comparative perspective.  His thesis research is historically oriented: it tells the story of two American architects—one of them a woman who graduated from MIT—who worked in the US, Australia, and India between 1895 and 1949.  Unusually for the period, Banerji says, this husband-wife team sought to break out of the confines of national boundaries and design instead for a common humanity and a globalized world.  “They saw architecture as a way to think about that—about the economic and political conditions that would be necessary to create a global community,” he says.  “They had a view about the importance of globalization, and then they sought to make that view visible.”

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jspatzJordan Spatz is a Ph.D. student in the HST Bioastronautics Program.  His research is on the role of osteocytes in disuse-induced and microgravity bone loss and is carried out with collegues at the Massachusetts General Hospital Endocrine Unit & Beth Israel Orthopedics Research Division.  His fundamental work on osteocyte function, including the establishment of an osteocyclic cell line and the investigation of an anti-sclerostin antibody in the prevention of disuse bone loss has been enormously successful and has been widely recognized.  He has four published papers and has received the best student poster award from the National Space Biomedical Research Institute/NASA Annual Investigators.

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alonaAlona Birjiniuk is a Ph.D. student in Chemical Engineering.  As an undergraduate, she majored in both chemical engineering and physics.  Her research is focused on the topic of biofilm mechanics.  In Alona’s thesis, she wants to interrogate the permeability properties and micromechanics of biofilms using a combination of microtechnology and microfluidic platforms.  Despite its crucial role for the resistance properties of bacteria, the mechanisms by with the biofilm matrix functions as a permeability and mechanical barrier are poorly understood.  Alona ultimately aims to fundamentally understand this science.

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DavidHill_headshotDavid Hill is a Ph.D. student in Media Arts and Sciences at MIT after receiving a Masters degree in the same subject.  David majored in Physics as an undergraduate at Morehouse College.  He has made strong research contributions to the Biomechatronics group, helping to develop new ideas and technologies that could improve the next generation of prosthetic devices.  At the same time, David has been very a very active and generous contributor to the MIT Media Lab community, and the larger MIT community, in particular supporting programs to improve the diversity of the MIT community and to improve the experiences of minority students at MIT.

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Congratulations to this year’s Hugh Hampton Young Fellows!

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