MIT graduate pupil Fernanda De La Torre, alumna Trang Luu ’18, SM ’20, and senior Syamantak Payra are recipients of the 2022 Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New People.
De La Torre, Luu, and Payra are amongst 30 New People chosen from a pool of over 1,800 candidates. The fellowship honors the contributions of immigrants and kids of immigrants by offering $90,000 in funding for graduate college.
College students focused on making use of to the P.D. Soros Fellowship for future years might contact Kim Benard, affiliate dean of distinguished fellowships in Profession Advising and Skilled Growth.
Fernanda De La Torre
Fernanda De La Torre is a PhD pupil within the Division of Mind and Cognitive Sciences. With Professor Josh McDermott, she research how we combine imaginative and prescient and sound, and with Professor Robert Yang, she develops computational fashions of creativeness.
De La Torre spent her early childhood along with her youthful sister and grandmother in Guadalajara, Mexico. At age 12, she crossed the Mexican border to reunite along with her mom in Kansas Metropolis, Missouri. Shortly after, an abusive house surroundings pressured De La Torre to depart her household and assist herself all through her early teenagers.
Regardless of her troublesome circumstances, De La Torre excelled academically in highschool. By successful numerous scholarships that might discretely take functions from undocumented college students, she was in a position to proceed her research in laptop science and arithmetic at Kansas State College. There, she grew to become intrigued by the mysteries of the human thoughts. Throughout faculty, De La Torre acquired invaluable mentorship from her former highschool principal, Thomas Herrera, who helped her change into documented by the Violence Towards Ladies Act. Her faculty professor, William Hsu, supported her pursuits in synthetic intelligence and inspired her to pursue a scientific profession.
After her undergraduate research, De La Torre received a post-baccalaureate fellowship from the Division of Mind and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, the place she labored with Professor Tomaso Poggio on the idea of deep studying. She then transitioned into the division’s PhD program. Past contributing to scientific information, De La Torre plans to make use of science to create areas the place all folks, together with these from backgrounds like her personal, can innovate and thrive.
She says: “Immigrants face many obstacles, however overcoming them offers us a singular power: We be taught to change into resilient, whereas counting on pals and mentors. These experiences foster each the want and the power to pay it ahead to our group.”
Trang Luu graduated from MIT with a BS in mechanical engineering in 2018, and a grasp of engineering diploma in 2020. Her Soros award will assist her graduate research at Harvard College within the MBA/MS engineering sciences program.
Born in Saigon, Vietnam, Luu was 3 when her household immigrated to Houston, Texas. Watching her mother and father’ efforts to make a residing in a land the place they didn’t perceive the tradition or converse the language nicely, Luu needed to alleviate hardship for her household. She took full accountability for her schooling and located mentors to assist her navigate the American schooling system. At house, she assisted her household in making and repairing home items, which fueled her pleasure for engineering.
As an MIT undergraduate, Luu centered on assistive expertise initiatives, making use of her engineering background to unravel issues impeding every day residing. These initiatives included a brand new adaptive socket liner for below-the-knee amputees in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Thailand; a strolling stick adapter for wheelchairs; a pc head pointer for sufferers with restricted arm mobility, a safer makeshift cook dinner range design for avenue distributors in South Africa; and a faster methodology to check new drip irrigation designs. As a graduate pupil in MIT D-Lab underneath the path of Professor Daniel Frey, Luu was awarded a Nationwide Science Basis Graduate Analysis Fellowship. In her graduate research, Luu researched strategies to enhance evaporative cooling gadgets for off-grid farmers to cut back fast fruit and vegetable deterioration.
These initiatives strengthened Luu’s dedication to innovating new expertise and gadgets for folks battling primary every day duties. Throughout her senior 12 months, Luu collaborated on creating a working prototype of a wearable machine that noninvasively reduces hand tremors related to Parkinson’s illness or important tremor. Observing sufferers’ pleasure after their tremors stopped compelled Luu and three co-founders to proceed creating the machine after faculty. 4 years later, Encora Therapeutics has achieved main milestones, together with Breakthrough System designation by the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration.
Hailing from Houston, Texas, Syamantak Payra is a senior majoring in electrical engineering and laptop science, with minors in public coverage and entrepreneurship and innovation. He might be pursuing a PhD in engineering at Stanford College, with the purpose of making new biomedical gadgets that may assist enhance every day life for sufferers worldwide and improve well being care outcomes for many years to come back.
Payra’s mother and father had emigrated from India, and he grew up immersed in his grandparents’ wealthy Bengali tradition. As a highschool pupil, he performed initiatives with NASA engineers at Johnson Area Heart, experimented at house together with his scientist mother and father, and competed in spelling bees and science festivals throughout the US. By way of these avenues and actions, Syamantak not solely gained views on bridging gaps between folks, but additionally discovered passions for language, scientific discovery, and educating others.
After watching his grandmother wrestle with bronchial asthma and persistent obstructive pulmonary illness and dropping his child brother to mind most cancers, Payra devoted himself to making an attempt to make use of expertise to unravel health-care challenges. Payra’s proudest accomplishments embrace constructing a robotic leg brace for his paralyzed trainer and conducting free literacy workshops and STEM outreach applications that reached practically a thousand underprivileged college students throughout the Better Houston Space.
At MIT, Payra has labored in Professor Yoel Fink’s analysis laboratory, creating digital sensor fibers which were woven into clever clothes that may help in diagnosing diseases, and in Professor Joseph Paradiso’s analysis laboratory, the place he contributed to next-generation spacesuit prototypes that higher defend astronauts on spacewalks. Payra’s analysis has been printed by a number of scientific journals, and he was inducted into the Nationwide Gallery of America’s Younger Inventors.