Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) graduate student Yi-Chieh "Jessica" Wu has been awarded the Kambourides Fellowship in Computational Engineering. Wu’s research interests span a range of areas related to biological systems, including nanocrystals for drug delivery, retinal implants for the blind, genetics and genomics.
EECS Professor John L. Wyatt Jr. describes Wu as “certainly the best programmer I have ever supervised as a graduate student — a young superstar [who will be] in great demand wherever she goes.”
Wu is particularly interested in topics that apply engineering tools to biological problems. Her PhD work centers on the study of computational biology, with a focus on domain evolution within the field of phylogenomics. She develops models for evolution and algorithms for reconstructing gene histories across multiple species, with a goal of discovering how genes form and function. Wu believes with the continued development of computational phylogenomic methods, researchers can address important biological questions, and in general provide a better picture of evolution at the sub-gene level while improving understanding of how new genes and functions arise. Her PhD advisor, EECS Associate Professor Manolis Kellis describes Wu’s work as “distinguished in its broad range and its depth and originality” and says Wu, “has demonstrated outstanding potential and excellent capability to conduct first-rate research in developing and applying computational methods to address critical biological problems."
Wu serves on the EECS Graduate Student Association. She maintains one of the EECS blogs and has worked to address the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through several outreach programs, including volunteering at the Sally Ride Science Festival and teaching elementary school girls at an after-school program as part of Science Club for Girls. She has also served as a teaching assistant and tutor during the school year.
The Kambourides Graduate Fellowship in Computational Engineering was established in 2008 through the generous support of Miltos Kambourides ’96, SM ’97 and Marina Kambourides. The Kambourides Fellowship, MIT’s first doctoral fellowship in computational engineering, is awarded competitively based on short proposals. Emphasis is placed on fundamental research with potential long-term impact on the foundations of computational engineering, as well as student accomplishments, growth potential and communication skills. The fellowship award provides a 12-month stipend, tuition and fees. It is part of a series of coordinated activities across the School of Engineering in the field of computational engineering.