Hertz Foundation Names 2011 Thesis Prize Winners

December 2, 2011


The Fannie and John Hertz Foundation Names 2011 Thesis Prize Winners

Three Awarded Prize for Best PhD Thesis by Recent Hertz Fellow Graduate 

Livermore, CA – December 2, 2011 – The Fannie and John Hertz Foundation has announced its annual, 2011 Thesis Prize, given this year to three Hertz Fellows for most outstanding doctoral dissertations. The Thesis Prize includes honorariums of $5000 for each Hertz Fellow and $1000 for each of the Fellows’ graduate and undergraduate advisors. Winners include:

Anna Bershteyn, PhD, Materials Science and Engineering, MIT. Thesis: “Lipid-coated micro- and nanoparticles as a biomimetic vaccine delivery platform.” Graduate Advisors: Professor Darrell J. Irvine, Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Professor Ellis L. Reinherz, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School.

Kevin Esvelt, PhD, Biochemistry, Harvard University. Thesis: “A System for Continuous Directed Evolution of Biomolecules.” Graduate Advisor: Professor David R. Liu, Dept. of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard. Undergraduate Advisor: Professor Hal Van Ryswyk, Dept. of Chemistry, Harvey Mudd College.

Monika Schleier-Smith, PhD, Physics, MIT. Thesis: “Cavity-Enabled Spin Squeezing for a Quantum-Enhanced Atomic Clock.” Graduate Advisor: Professor Vladin Valetic, Department of Physics, MIT. Undergraduate Advisor: Professor John Doyle, Department of Physics, Harvard.

“There was such a high level of quality in the work produced this year that the Thesis Committee has recommended three winners,” stated Jay Davis, PhD, president of the Hertz Foundation. “These young people are representative of the extraordinary community of the Hertz Fellows. It’s a privilege to witness the exceptional creativity and brilliance of these applied scientists and engineers. Our Nation benefits immensely from their innovation, drive and talent.”

The Hertz Foundation Board of Directors selected winners from a field of 15 graduates receiving their PhDs in 2010-11. Each year Hertz Fellows submit dissertations completed during the previous academic year. These are examined by the Thesis Prize Committee and judged by their overall excellence and their potential impact as applications in the real world.  The Hertz Foundation also acknowledges the great importance of the advisor’s role, awarding each of them with an honorarium. Some Thesis Prize winners have received patents for their work while others have established highly successful companies.

About the Hertz Foundation

For nearly a half century, the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation has contributed to the scientific and engineering strength of this Nation. We invest in the young applied scientists and engineers whose good character and creative spirit have the power to change the world. The Hertz Foundation has provided the nation’s most generous PhD fellowships which give Fellows the freedom to innovate in their doctoral research. The highly competitive selection process includes a comprehensive written application, four references, and two rounds of technical interviews by recognized leaders in applied science and engineering. In addition to supporting the Fellows in their graduate education, the Foundation provides unique seminars, workshops and symposia that take place away from their campus environments. These gatherings expose the in-school Fellow to national leaders and researchers, with many who are alumni Fellows of the Foundation. More information about the Hertz Foundation can be found at www.hertzfoundation.org.