Draper and The Hertz Foundation Establish Joint Fellowship

December 14, 2016
Hertz Staff
Livermore, Calif

Draper, an independent not-for-profit engineering research and development company, and The Hertz Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to empowering America’s most brilliant scientific minds, today announced the creation of a joint fellowship program. The new Hertz-Draper Fellowship Program is part of the prestigious Hertz Foundation Fellowship Program and was inspired by the many synergies between the two organizations, including a mutual interest in preparing graduate students in engineering, science and mathematics for complex and challenging problems from under the sea to the outer reaches of the universe.

“For more than half a century, the Hertz Foundation has been dedicated to empowering America’s most brilliant scientific minds with the freedom to innovate,” said Dr. David Galas, PhD, Hertz Fellow, Chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, and a preeminent leader in biology and medicine. “As a Hertz Fellow, I can personally attest to the value of the support, guidance and collaborative network the Hertz Foundation provides to its Fellows. We are excited to partner with an organization that shares our mission to nurture remarkable scientists, engineers and mathematicians as they develop and explore their ideas wherever they may take them. We believe that with the support of both Hertz and Draper behind them, these Fellows will surely prove to have a tremendous impact on the future of our country and society as a whole.”

The Program will award two fellowships each academic year, providing graduate (school or university) tuition and a stipend. Hertz-Draper Fellows will work on projects of mutual interest to Draper and their home universities to ensure Fellows are able to capitalize on game-changing breakthroughs in academia and industry. Draper’s technical depth and expertise will provide synergy with each Fellow’s university research laboratories, and the Draper Fellow alumni network will provide additional networking and mentoring opportunities. As a leader in engineered solutions for complex problems in areas including biomedical engineering and military defense, the guidance Draper will provide to Fellows will help maintain and advance the United States’ position as a global leader in science and engineering.

“Walking through Draper offices in Kendall Square in Cambridge you will find almost 70 graduate students from engineering, science and mathematics working alongside our 1,100 highly skilled technical staff members,” said Christopher Yu, a Draper engineering division leader since 2012 and director of the Draper Fellow Program for the past year. “This collaboration ensures that the latest breakthroughs in science and academia are capitalized on when Draper is developing solutions to some of the most important global problems. We are very excited to partner with the Hertz Foundation through the Hertz-Draper Fellowship Program, and expect great things from these Fellows.”

The two Hertz-Draper Fellows appointed this academic year are Katie Bodner and Kettner Griswold Jr. Bodner, a PhD candidate at Stanford University in Bioengineering, is also a Stanford Graduate Fellow. She is working on how drug development and protein engineering can be improved using a systems biology approach with the goal of engineering therapeutics to combat drug resistance in a programmable way. Griswold is a research fellow at the George Church Lab at Harvard Medical School and a graduate student at the Ed Boyden Lab at MIT. His current work focuses on developing new tools and methods in synthetic biology, such as new ways to scale de novo DNA synthesis, and library-on-library interaction profiling and evolution strategies.

“Both Hertz and Draper have a strong history of funding graduate education in the United States, and we are thrilled to partner with the Hertz Foundation,” said Sheila Hemami, Director of Strategic Technical Opportunities at Draper, who will be taking over the direction of the Draper Fellow program from Christopher Yu going forward. “Since the 1970s, Draper has guided and supported more than 1,200 Draper Fellows, who have come from both civilian and military backgrounds and who are excelling all over the world in technical, corporate, government, academia and entrepreneurship sectors. In 2016, Draper is continuing its commitment to the next generation of leaders in the sciences and technology—by supporting 60 Draper Fellows who are pursuing MS and PhD degrees at 11 universities, and by joining the Hertz Foundation to launch the Hertz-Draper Fellowship. We have high expectations of all of our Fellows.”

Draper and the Hertz Foundation have both independently operated fellowship programs for more than 50 years. The Draper Fellow Program sponsors 55-65 graduate students each academic year. Draper Fellows carry out their thesis research in collaboration with a Draper technical staff member. The Hertz Foundation awards fellowships, which include mentoring and community support, to PhD students in science, engineering and mathematics. There are currently 68 Hertz Fellows in school and over 800 applied for the 12 spots in the Hertz Fellowship Program for the 2015-2016 academic year. Both the Draper and Hertz Fellowships provide full tuition coverage and a monthly stipend for the duration of the Fellow’s degree program. Draper Fellow Alumni have gone on to serve as high-ranking members in the DoD, astronauts for NASA, leaders in industry and faculty members in engineering and the sciences, while Hertz Fellow Alumni have founded more than 200 companies and received numerous major awards, including two Nobel Prizes in Physics.

The Hertz Foundation
For more than half a century, the Hertz Foundation has found and supported the best and brightest graduate students in the sciences, furthering our country’s leadership in these fields. Hertz Fellows pursue a PhD in the STEM fields and follow their academic curiosity with greater financial independence. These students are chosen for their intellect, their ingenuity and their potential to make scientific advancements for the public good. The Hertz Foundation also builds a vibrant Hertz Fellows community, gathering the Fellows together at annual workshops and retreats to allow them to inspire and learn from one another across generations. For more information visit www.hertzfoundation.org and follow the Foundation on Facebook.

As an independent not-for-profit engineering research and development company, Draper focuses on the design, development and deployment of advanced technological solutions for the world’s most challenging and important problems. We provide engineering solutions directly to government, industry and academia; work on teams as prime contractor or subcontractor; and participate as a collaborator in consortia. We provide unbiased assessments of technology or systems designed or recommended by other organizations — custom designed, as well as commercial-off-the-shelf.