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Hugh Hampton Young Fellowship celebrates 50 years

New cohort of fellows to carry on humanitarian tradition at MIT.
The 2015 Young Fellows: (clockwise from top left) John Arroyo, Or Gadish, Steven Keating, Iris Zielski, Mitali Thakor, William Li, and Georgia Lagoudas
The 2015 Young Fellows: (clockwise from top left) John Arroyo, Or Gadish, Steven Keating, Iris Zielski, Mitali Thakor, William Li, and Georgia Lagoudas

Named for the pioneering medical researcher, the Hugh Hampton Young Fellowship is one of the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education’s (ODGE) most prestigious awards. A famed urologist, Young was not only an innovator in medical science, his curiosity and intellectual drive also stirred him in other endeavors such as civic enhancement, the arts, and the burgeoning field of aviation.  Accordingly, the goal of the Hugh Hampton Young Fellowship is to not only recognize academic achievement, but also exceptional personal and character strengths, with heavy emphasis on the perceived overall potential of the candidate to have a positive impact on humanity.

Established in 1965 through an anonymous donor, roughly 150 students have benefited from this award over the last 50 years. “The Hugh Hampton Young Fellowship has always been handled slightly differently than our other opportunities,” says ODGE Manager of Graduate Fellowships Scott Tirrell. “As a stipulation of the award, recipients are chosen by an external selection committee largely comprised of former Hugh Hampton Young Fellowship recipients. Through careful evaluation of candidate application material and personal interviews, the committee seeks individuals exhibiting a blend of broad focus, leadership, and initiative.”

The committee has selected seven new recipients as the 2015-16 fellowship cohort. They will join a legacy of exceptional individuals, and will hopefully go on to make positive impacts on society in the tradition of Young himself. (Accomplishments of former Hugh Hampton Young Fellowship recipients can be seen on the ODGE website.)

John Arroyo is a PhD student in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning. He received his master’s in city planning and a certificate in urban design from MIT and a BA in public relations, with a concentration in planning and development, from the University of Southern California. His professional career includes community development, housing, and arts and cultural programming experience with various nonprofits, foundations, and government agencies. Prior to MIT he was an Executive Fellow at the Coro Foundation’s Southern California Center for Civic Leadership. Arroyo is interested in the interrelationship between the built environment, migration, and policy. In particular, his comparative research investigates how the public-built environment influences and reshapes sociocultural behavior among transnational Latino migrants, and how local urban planning and design policies react to this adjustment phenomenon in both U.S. receiving communities and native Latin American sending communities (Mexico and Central America). In 2012 he co-created Project 51’s "Play the L.A. River," a public humanities project dedicated to increasing awareness of and access to the Los Angeles River as a civic space.

Or Gadish is a PhD candidate in Health Sciences and Technology at MIT’s Institute for Medical Engineering and Science. His thesis work seeks to combine the advances of vascular biology, biomaterials and tissue engineering, and cancer biology to better understand the relationship between cancer cells and tumor-resident endothelial cells (EC), the cells that line all blood vessels. While healthy ECs are anti-tumorigenic, tumors transform ECs into a pro-tumorigenic state. As such, Gadish is also looking closely at the relationship between tumor-transformed ECs and their healthy brethren, which can be grown in vitro, embedded on biomaterial scaffolds, and implanted next to tumors to both inhibit cancer cell processes and rescue transformed ECs.

Steven Keating is a PhD candidate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering focused on novel platforms for additive manufacturing, synthetic biology, and designed growth. Based out of the Mediated Matter group at the MIT Media Lab, his research covers a diverse range including building-scale 3-D printing, microfluidic digital fabrication, and open patient data access. From gears to genomes, he is interested in exploring new design possibilities. Keating has lectured and helped instruct for several MIT design courses — including 2.00b (Toy Product Design), 2.009 (Product Engineering Processes), MAS.500 (Hands on Foundations in Media Technology), and MAS.S64 (Special Subject in Media Technology) — and is a patient advocate for open health data. Calgary is his hometown and he is invigorated by curiosity, creativity, and maple syrup.

Georgia Lagoudas is a PhD candidate in the Department of Biological Engineering. She completed her undergraduate degree at Rice University in bioengineering. She is interested in investigating the microbes inside of our bodies — in particular our lungs — and how these microbes are associated with health. We have only recently discovered that bacteria exist in the healthy lungs, but we do not have a clear understanding of their role. Lagoudas is focused on using mice as a model system to study the dynamics of the lung microbial population and investigate how changes in the immune system or health status might alter these microbes.

William Li is a PhD candidate in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science focused on data science on open government datasets. He develops and applies methods to analyze and visualize large collections of text documents to answer research questions in computational social science and promote public understanding of law, politics, and public policy. Li's recent work includes predicting the authors of unsigned Supreme Court opinions, quantifying repeated text in Congress, and measuring the complexity of our laws using language and software engineering metrics. Along with these research interests, Li helps run the MIT Assistive Technology Club and co-taught 6.811 (Principles and Practice of Assistive Technology) in 2014, a full-semester course that focuses on accessibility and assistive technologies for people with disabilities. 

Mitali Thakor, a continuing Hugh Hampton Young Fellow, is a PhD candidate in the MIT Program in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society. Her dissertation uses feminist anthropological methods to explore the global carceral politics of anti-trafficking, pornography, and child exploitation in the context of emerging digital technologies. She has conducted fieldwork in the U.S., Netherlands, and Thailand, and hopes that her research will inform critical and comprehensive practices to reduce exploitation and victimization. Outside of research, Mitali is a campus peer educator and organizer on issues of sexual violence and healthy relationships, and is also active with local anti-racist and queer feminist political organizations. Prior to MIT, Mitali worked on community sexual health research in the Philippines, and also holds BA degrees in feminist studies and anthropology from Stanford University.

Iris Zielske is an MS and MBA candidate in the Leaders for Global Operations program. She holds a BS in industrial and systems engineering and a BA in linguists from the University of Florida. As a part of her studies at MIT she has worked with LV Prasad Eye Institute on a designing a prototype for a wearable, electronic device for students with low vision in India and worked with Gradian Health Systems on evaluating their after-sales service strategy for anesthesia machines in East Africa. Her thesis research focuses on digital identification systems for biotechnology supply chains.

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