Two Graduate Students Named Hertz Foundation Fellows

March 28, 2017

From: Stanford News
by Kate Chesley

Graduate students ALYSSA FERRIS and SUHAS RAO have been named among 12 winners of 2017 Hertz Fellowships. They were chosen from among more than 700 applicants interested in pursuing graduate work in applied physical and biological sciences, mathematics and engineering.

According to the press release announcing the fellowships, the Hertz Foundation is the only organization in the United States that supports doctoral candidates for a full five years and grants students total research freedom, ensuring that each fellow is able to pursue the most compelling, cutting-edge work.

“The 2017 fellow class is among the best and brightest we’ve ever seen, and we are proud to welcome them to the Hertz Community,” said Robbee Baker Kosak, president of the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation. “Hertz Fellows are developing solutions to issues of worldwide importance, from helping solve global health crises to addressing climate change and energy consumption. We look forward to seeing our new fellows make similarly outstanding contributions as they pursue their research in the coming years.”

Ferris is a PhD student at Stanford who will continue to pursue her studies here in bioengineering. She is from Raleigh, North Carolina. According to the Hertz Foundation press release, her broad interest is in using synthetic biology to design and model genetic circuits. Her current research is developing a high throughput platform for implementing small molecule biosynthesis pathways in plants by creating new genetic parts and bioinformatics tools.

Rao is an MD/PhD student in the School of Medicine. He will continue to pursue his doctorate in quantitative biology at Stanford. Rao is from Massachusetts. While working at the Broad Institute as a Harvard undergraduate, he became interested in the “genomics revolution” and in precision medicine and patient care. His experience as a staff member at the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, however, taught him that health care needs to be accessible. He hopes to translate research into clinical practice as a physician-scientist.

The Fannie and John Hertz Foundation is the legacy of John Hertz, a Hungarian immigrant who made his fortune in the automotive industry. He believed that innovative and entrepreneurial solutions were vital to the strength, security and prosperity of our nation and began the foundation to support exceptionally talented students expected to have the greatest impact on the world’s problems.