April 2, 2012
The Daily Texan
"Biomedical engineering senior Kelly Moynihan and Plan II senior Anjali Datta are among 15 students from coast to coast chosen to receive the $250,000 science fellowship lasting up to five years. The Hertz Foundation Fellowship is the highest valued and one of the most competitive fellowships in the applied physical, biological and engineering sciences," said Hans Mark, engineer professor and senior Hertz Foundation board member.
Mark said the fellowship will provide the recipients academic freedom throughout their graduate studies.
“Both these girls are absolutely first class,” Marks said. “To even make it to the interview process they had to have 4.0 averages and all kinds of publications from undergraduate work.”
Mark said after going through the paperwork, 600 applicants are reduced to 150, then after the interviews, 50 finalists remain in which the 15 fellows are chosen.
“The recipients are chosen in a meeting where all the board basically fights for two days about who should get it, because they are all so qualified,” Mark said.
Janice Odell, The Ford Odell Group partner and client services director, which corresponds with the Hertz Foundation, said having two recipients from UT is a great honor because Hertz Fellows go on to truly make a difference in the world.
“Just to have a lady scientist is a rare and special thing and to have a Fellow chosen from UT is an even rarer and special thing, so two Fellows that are both women is just amazing,” Odell said. “I am just so happy for UT because this is such an honor.”
Datta, who is 19, will receive honors in electrical and computer engineering, natural sciences and liberal arts upon her graduation in May. She has won many awards and served in leadership roles in many campus organizations.
“I am passionate about engineering because I can make a real difference through it,” Datta said. “You can help find ways to diagnose diseases sooner and see the effect of your work in people.”
Datta said she aspires to be a researcher and professor after finishing graduate school at Stanford, MIT or UC Berkeley.
Moynihan said she will attend MIT next semester to receive a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. She was inspired to study in this area when her father was diagnosed with cancer her senior year of high school.
“My teachers in high school were telling me I should go into math or science because I had excelled in those areas,” Moynihan said. “Then my father was diagnosed with cancer in December of that year, so everything just fell into place. I knew I wanted to help people.”
Moynihan said she also hopes to be a professor and researcher so she can share her findings with others.