MIT senior Michelle Teplensky has won a Gates Cambridge Scholarship, a competitive full-cost scholarship which will allow her to pursue a PhD in chemical engineering and biotechnology at the University of Cambridge, UK, in fall 2014.
At the University of Cambridge, Teplensky will focus her PhD work on biotechnology and polymers, designing drug-targeting systems that can be commercialized. With the ultimate goal of becoming a chief technology officer at a biotechnology company, she intends to focus her future research on targeted treatments. She is particularly interested not only in curing disease, but also making treatments less arduous. Teplensky explains, “I plan to work under Professor Nigel Slater to address the existent issue of treating debilitating diseases with a more effective and efficient drug delivery by combining novel technologies in chemical engineering, polymer science, and biopharmaceuticals. Professor Slater's current research into targeted nanoparticles and biopolymers is a great fit for my passion and interests and I am incredibly excited and grateful to the Gates Cambridge Trust for such an incredible opportunity.”
A chemical-biological engineering major, Teplensky has done research in three MIT laboratories. In 2011, she worked in the Sikes Laboratory, which focuses on engineering biomolecular systems for the fields of medicine and energy. She then accepted a research position in the Prather Laboratory, which studies the production of unnatural organic compounds in the nascent field of synthetic biology.
Kristala Jones Prather, an associate professor of chemical engineering, says, “What sets Michelle apart from many of her peers is her leadership skills. She exudes a level of excitement and enthusiasm for science and engineering that is infectious and inspires others around her. I know that she will take this same energy and talent to new heights in the other Cambridge.” Most recently, Teplensky has undertaken research in the world-renowned Langer Laboratory, where she is investigating the use of polymers for targeted therapies in the treatment of type-1 diabetes.
Teplensky is also an active member of the MIT community, serving as a peer network engagement intern for MIT Hillel and advocate. She is currently the president of MIT’s chapter of American Institute of Chemical Engineers, and developed a symposium that brought together company representatives to network with students. Through the MIT International Science and Technology Initiative (MISTI), she spent seven weeks in Germany, teaching math and science.