Prestigious Hertz Foundation 2016 Fellows Announced

April 21, 2016
Hertz Staff
Livermore, Calif

The Fannie and John Hertz Foundation today announced the 2016 recipients of its prestigious Hertz Fellowship. The twelve recipients were chosen from a cohort of over 800 candidates who will pursue PhDs in the sciences, engineering and mathematics.

Though less than 1,200 Hertz Fellowships have been awarded in 53 years, these twelve young scientists join an elite group of leaders that include winners of the Nobel Prize, the Turing Award, the National Medal of Science, the Breakthrough Prize in Science, and MacArthur Fellowships. Additionally, Hertz Fellows have founded over 200 companies, hold more than 3,000 patents, and are among the top leaders in national laboratories and the U.S. military. In the last two years alone, four Hertz Fellows were named in Forbes’ “30 under 30 in Science” list.

The Foundation encourages awardees to pursue science for the public good. It was created by entrepreneur John Hertz, founder of Hertz Rental Car, to inspire and invest in the future of scientific exploration by providing resources and academic freedom to young minds. It is the only foundation that provides PhD tuition and stipend support for five years while offering its Fellows full research freedom.

“Far too few of our most talented young Americans are dedicating themselves to leadership careers in science, engineering and mathematics,” said Robbee Baker Kosak, president of the Foundation. “Yet, leadership in these disciplines is precisely what the United States needs if we are to continue to build a robust economy and protect our national security. Following in the footsteps of Hertz Fellows who have come before them, these young men and women will utilize this fellowship to pursue work that will have a tremendous impact on the future of our country and society as a whole.”

The 2016 Fellowship awardees come from top U.S. universities and were chosen for their intellect, ingenuity and potential to bring meaningful improvement to society.

The 2016 Hertz Fellowship awardees are:

Rebecca Alford – Rebecca is an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University. She will pursue her PhD at Johns Hopkins University in chemical and biomolecular engineering. Rebecca is from Commack, New York.

Kurtis Carsch – Kurtis is an undergraduate at the California Institute of Technology. He will pursue his PhD at Harvard University in inorganic chemistry. Kurtis is from Bellevue, Washington.

Paul Dieterle – Paul is an undergraduate at the California Institute of Technology. He will pursue his PhD at Harvard University in quantum physics. Paul is from Madison, Wisconsin.

Kettner Griswold – Kettner is a research fellow at the George Church Lab at Harvard Medical School and a research affiliate at the MIT Media Lab, where he will pursue his PhD in synthetic biology. Kettner is from Bethesda, Maryland.

Steven Herbst – Steven received his undergraduate degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He will pursue his PhD at Stanford University in electrical engineering. Steven is from Falls Church, Virginia.

Felipe Hernandez – Felipe is an undergraduate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His PhD field of study will be in applied mathematics. Felipe is from Metairie, Louisiana.

Yuri Lensky – Yuri received his undergraduate degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is currently pursuing his PhD at Stanford University in theoretical physics. Yuri is from New York City, New York.

Sarah McFann – Sarah is an undergraduate at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. She will pursue her PhD at Princeton University in chemical and biological engineering. Sarah is from Arlington, Tennessee.

Nicole Michenfelder-Schauser – Nicole received her undergraduate degree at the University of California, Berkeley. She will pursue her PhD at the University of California, Santa Barbara in materials science. Nicole is from Santa Barbara, California.

Reuben Saunders – Reuben is an undergraduate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His PhD field of study will be biophysics. Reuben is from Santa Cruz, California.

Joseph Scherrer – Joseph is an undergraduate at Princeton University. He will pursue his PhD in the field of biophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Joseph is from Nashville, Tennessee.

Eli Weinstein – Eli is an undergraduate at Harvard University, where he will go on to pursue his PhD

Each Fellowship consists of up to five years of financial, mentoring and community support. This includes a stipend and full tuition valued at more than $250,000 and research freedom at a participating graduate institution in the United States.

The rigorous selection process began with a comprehensive written application, including four references. From a pool of over 800 applicants, the Foundation selected 120 candidates of exceptional creativity for a first round of interviews. These interviews are conducted by some of the nation’s foremost leaders in the science and technology fields, many of whom are Hertz Fellows. This formal technical interview, known as The Hertz Interview, tests applicants’ knowledge of broad scientific principles and is the hallmark of the Hertz Foundation program. Forty finalists were then selected to participate in a second in-depth interview.

“The selection process is always incredibly challenging due to the number of worthy candidates,” added Dr. David Galas, PhD, Hertz Fellow, Chairman of the Foundation’s Board of Directors, and a preeminent leader in biology and medicine. “But these Fellows demonstrated special vision, dedication, and future ambitions that helped them rise to the top.”

Key to its mission, the Hertz Foundation gives Fellows the freedom to innovate in their doctoral studies. Fellows are not bound by traditional research funding restrictions or the funded projects of any faculty member. Hertz Fellows pursue their own ideas with complete financial independence under the guidance of some of the country’s finest professors and mentors.

About the Hertz Foundation
For over half a century, the Hertz Foundation has found and supported nearly 1,200 of the brightest graduate students in mathematics, engineering, and the sciences. These select leaders drive scientific discovery, fuel technical innovations across disciplines and industries, and make breakthroughs that positively impact our county – and the world.