Three from MIT awarded 2022 Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Individuals | MIT Information

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 Individuals.

De La Torre, Luu, and Payra are amongst 30 New Individuals 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 considering 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 together with her youthful sister and grandmother in Guadalajara, Mexico. At age 12, she crossed the Mexican border to reunite together with her mom in Kansas Metropolis, Missouri. Shortly after, an abusive residence surroundings compelled De La Torre to depart her household and help herself all through her early teenagers.

Regardless of her tough circumstances, De La Torre excelled academically in highschool. By profitable numerous scholarships that may discretely take purposes from undocumented college students, she was capable of proceed her research in pc 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 obtained invaluable mentorship from her former highschool principal, Thomas Herrera, who helped her develop into documented by the Violence In opposition to 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 gained a post-baccalaureate fellowship from the Division of Mind and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, the place she labored with Professor Tomaso Poggio on the speculation of deep studying. She then transitioned into the division’s PhD program. Past contributing to scientific data, De La Torre plans to make use of science to create areas the place all individuals, together with these from backgrounds like her personal, can innovate and thrive.

She says: “Immigrants face many obstacles, however overcoming them provides us a singular energy: We study to develop into resilient, whereas counting on buddies and mentors. These experiences foster each the want and the flexibility to pay it ahead to our neighborhood.”

Trang Luu

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 help 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 dwelling in a land the place they didn’t perceive the tradition or converse the language properly, Luu wished to alleviate hardship for her household. She took full duty for her training and located mentors to assist her navigate the American training system. At residence, she assisted her household in making and repairing home items, which fueled her pleasure for engineering.

As an MIT undergraduate, Luu targeted on assistive know-how tasks, making use of her engineering background to unravel issues impeding each day dwelling. These tasks 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 road distributors in South Africa; and a faster technique to check new drip irrigation designs. As a graduate pupil in MIT D-Lab below the course 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 units for off-grid farmers to cut back speedy fruit and vegetable deterioration.

These tasks strengthened Luu’s dedication to innovating new know-how and units for individuals combating fundamental each day duties. Throughout her senior yr, Luu collaborated on growing a working prototype of a wearable gadget 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 growing the gadget after faculty. 4 years later, Encora Therapeutics has completed main milestones, together with Breakthrough Machine designation by the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration.

Syamantak Payra

Hailing from Houston, Texas, Syamantak Payra is a senior majoring in electrical engineering and pc science, with minors in public coverage and entrepreneurship and innovation. He will probably be pursuing a PhD in engineering at Stanford College, with the purpose of making new biomedical units that may assist enhance each day life for sufferers worldwide and improve well being care outcomes for many years to return.

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 carried out tasks with NASA engineers at Johnson House Middle, experimented at residence along with his scientist mother and father, and competed in spelling bees and science festivals throughout america. By these avenues and actions, Syamantak not solely gained views on bridging gaps between individuals, but in addition discovered passions for language, scientific discovery, and educating others.

After watching his grandmother battle with bronchial asthma and continual obstructive pulmonary illness and dropping his child brother to mind most cancers, Payra devoted himself to attempting to make use of know-how to unravel health-care challenges. Payra’s proudest accomplishments embrace constructing a robotic leg brace for his paralyzed instructor and conducting free literacy workshops and STEM outreach applications that reached almost a thousand underprivileged college students throughout the Higher 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 sicknesses, 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 revealed by a number of scientific journals, and he was inducted into the Nationwide Gallery of America’s Younger Inventors.