June Park ’16, an alumna of Course 10 (chemical engineering), is one of 35 American students to be awarded this year’s competitive Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She is currently an associate consultant at Putnam Associates, where she helps generate and deliver strategic recommendations for global biopharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.
Park will attend Cambridge University to earn a PhD in bioengineering, and will be working to develop a biomimetic, 3-D-printable scaffold for the development of lung stem cell-derived artificial trachea and organoids. The successful development of an artificial trachea using the synthetic scaffold and patient stem cells may transform the treatment of tracheal injuries and diseases, significantly improving the survival and post-treatment quality of life for millions of patients.
While at MIT, Park participated in several Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programs, including in the labs of Professor Bernhardt L. Trout at the Novartis-MIT Center for Continuous Manufacturing and Institute Professor Robert S. Langer at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. In the Trout Lab, Park studied polymer thin films for continuous manufacturing of pharmaceuticals. In the Langer Lab, she helped develop an ultrasound-mediated colonic drug-delivery device that became the platform technology for Suono Bio, a Boston-based biotech startup.
“Studying chemical and biological engineering at MIT opened up doors to a lot of interdisciplinary research opportunities, and helped me discover my passion for polymers and biology,” Park explains. “Beyond fluids and transport, Course 10B taught me a broad set of skills, from generating polymer nanoparticles and growing cells to modeling 3-D acoustics, building electronics, and doing genetics research.”
With keen interests in both education and entrepreneurship, Park also cofounded the Kepler Tech Laboratory while at MIT. Located in Kigali, Rwanda, Kepler Tech Lab is an innovation hub for business students to develop new endeavors to improve the energy and recycling industries.
Park says she is looking forward to this next step in her engineering career.
“The chemical engineering department and MIT at large have provided invaluable mentorship for navigating careers in both business and research. Even after graduation while working in consulting, the chemical engineering faculties and the MIT fellowship resources were generously offered to me,” she says. “I am extremely grateful for the MIT ChemE department and am excited to be joining the Gates Cambridge community."
Park was assisted in her application by Kim Benard in the Office of Distinguished Fellowships. Established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, the Gates Cambridge Scholarship provides full funding for talented students from outside the United Kingdom to pursue postgraduate study in any subject at Cambridge University. The 2018 awards process was extremely competitive: There were nearly 800 applicants from around the country, with 35 ultimately chosen. Since the program’s inception in 2001, there have been 27 Gates Cambridge Scholars from MIT.