Meet the Fellows
Faculty host: Michael Fayer
Kimberly Carter-Fenk earned a doctorate at The Ohio State University and came to Stanford as a postdoctoral scholar in 2021. In 2022 she will join the Science Fellows to pursue research on fundamental dynamics and intermolecular interactions in deep eutectic solvents, which have applications in the development of fuel cells. Carter-Fenk’s interests span quantum chemistry, spectroscopy, and climate science and sustainability. She was recognized for outstanding teaching at Ohio State, and at Stanford she has served as a mentor to first-generation and low-income students and a representative on the Disability Staff Forum.
Faculty host: Risa Wechsler
Mia de los Reyes will earn a doctorate in astrophysics at Caltech, where she studies the formation and evolution of galaxies, especially low-mass “dwarf galaxies.” As a Science Fellow, she aims to investigate how the Milky Way and nearby galaxies differ from others in the universe. She is an active member of Astrobites, an international team of graduate students who make astrophysical research accessible to the general public.
Faculty host: Todd Martinez
Diptarka Hait comes to Stanford from the University of California, Berkeley, where he will earn a doctorate in physical chemistry. His interests lie in computational quantum chemistry, and he has conducted research into how X-rays can be used to study chemical transformations. His graduate work has been highly productive, leading to more than 20 publications. As a Science Fellow, Hait aims to use the tools of physics and mathematics to advance understanding of photocatalysts and chemistry in general. He also enjoys sharing his love of science as a teacher and mentor to younger scientists.
Faculty Host: Anne Dekas
Alexander Jaffe studies microbial ecology and evolution, with a special interest in microbial metabolism. As a Stanford Science Fellow, he plans to investigate how lifeforms in the deepest parts of the ocean contribute to the global carbon cycle, with implications for efforts to mitigate climate change. Jaffe earned a doctorate in microbiology at the University of California, Berkeley, where he has was involved in the CLEAR Project, which encourages early-career scientists to communicate with the public and be involved in their communities. In collaboration with Girls Who Code/College Track, he offered an introductory course in Python programming for high school students in Oakland.
Faculty host: Xiaojing Gao
Noa Katz earned a doctorate at the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, and came to Stanford as a postdoctoral scholar in 2021. As a Science Fellow, she will pursue research at the intersection of physics, engineering, and the life sciences. Katz uses synthetic gene circuits to understand and manipulate the mechanics of neuro-regeneration in the human body, with therapeutic applications. She is the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship and the Weizmann Institute of Science-Israel National Postdoctoral Award for Advancing Women in Science. She has long been involved in the iGEM international competition for students in synthetic biology, first as a participant and later as a mentor.
Faculty host: Liqun Luo
Cheng Lyu studied physics and computational biology at Peking University and went on to a doctorate in neuroscience at the Rockefeller University, where his experimental research yielded discoveries about how the brains of fruit files help them better navigate in space via vector computations. As a Stanford Science Fellow, Lyu will study how neural circuits, specifically the fly’s olfactory circuit, are assembled during the brain’s development. He enjoys teaching and is eager to be a mentor to young scientists.
Faculty host: Chris Garcia
Rong Ma is interested in using nanotechnology to answer questions in cell biology. After studying environmental science, Ma earned a doctorate at Emory University with research bridging chemistry and biophysics to investigate T cells, which defend against infections and cancer. As a Science Fellow, Ma will collaborate with researchers in medicine and chemistry to pursue breakthroughs in immunotherapy and cancer immunology. She is a co-founder and board member of the International Graduate Students and Scholars group at Emory. Ma was recently awarded the Michelson Prize for Human Immunology and Vaccine Research.
Faculty host: Jacob Fox
Jonathan Tidor will earn a doctorate in mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His interests lie in the areas of discrete geometry and additive combinatorics. Tidor was part of a research team that solved a 70-year-old problem in geometry by determining the maximum number of equiangular lines for a given angle. He has been active at MIT as an advisor and mentor in programs such as SPUR+, which aims to increase representation of women and underrepresented minorities in research mathematics.
Faculty Host: Lauren O’Connell
Vicky Watson-Zink studies how marine animals made the transition to terrestrial modes of life beginning more than 300 million years ago. Her doctoral research at the University of California, Davis, assessed the genetic changes that have allowed crabs to adapt to living on land. As part of that work, Watson-Zink is assembling the genome of the coconut crab, the planet’s largest terrestrial arthropod. Her published research has highlighted efforts to conserve the coconut crab and other threatened species. As a Science Fellow, Watson-Zink aims to explore the genetic basis of sea-to-land transitions by studying developmental transcriptomics in land crabs.
Faculty host: Tom Devereaux
Zoe Zhu’s research uncovers the physical properties of systems across scales, from quantum materials to climate systems. At Stanford, she aims to use machine learning to design tunable quantum materials and to explore the connections between quantum systems and climate science. Zhu will complete a doctorate at Harvard University in the fields of physics and computational science and engineering. She was part of the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration that received the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics in 2019. Zhu is dedicated to teaching and mentoring, especially students from backgrounds underrepresented in physics. She was awarded Harvard’s Certificate of Distinction in Teaching, Harvard University in 2021.
Faculty Host: Molly Schumer
Stepfanie Aguillon holds a bachelor's and a master's degree from the University of Arizona and a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology from Cornell University. She has interests in behavioral ecology and evolutionary biology and seeks to understand how genes influence the way organisms look and behave. As a Science Fellow, she plans to study the genetic basis of mate choice behavior in a hybridizing fish system. Aguillon’s research has appeared in Proceedings of the Royal Society B and PLoS Genetics, among other venues, and she has published on the topic of science education.
Faculty Host: Peter Kim
Brian Hie is interested in using technology to understand interactions between pathogens and their host organisms. As a doctoral student in electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, he developed novel applications of machine learning to biology and achieved important insights into viral mutation, and he is first author of papers appearing in venues such as Science and Nature Biotechnology. Brian has worked as a software engineer for Google X, Salesforce, and Illumina and holds three patents.
Faculty Host: ZX Shen
Zhurun Ji earned a doctoral degree in physics at the University of Pennsylvania. She pursues experimental and theoretical approaches in the area of condensed matter physics. Her work has appeared in the journals Science and Nature Materials. At Stanford she plans to investigate the nature of electrons and develop quantum materials for use in the next generation of green electronics.
Faculty Host: Jennifer Dionne
Cody McCoy received her PhD in organismic and evolutionary biology from Harvard University. She holds a master’s degree in environmental policy from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. The focus of McCoy’s research is biological adaptations related to light, such as the coloration that allows birds and spiders to absorb more than 99 percent of light and thus appear “super black.” Her work has been featured in outlets including Scientific American and The New York Times.
Faculty Host: Ciprian Manolescu
Maggie Miller is a Clay Research Fellow. She obtained her PhD from Princeton University where she was an NSF Graduate Fellow. Before coming to Stanford, Maggie was an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT. Maggie works on geometric topology and is interested in understanding surfaces in 4-dimensions. At Stanford she plans to broaden her work on topology of low-dimensional manifolds to include modern ideas from gauge theory.
Faculty Host: Manu Prakash
Vishal Patil received his PhD from MIT in the field of applied mathematics. His work deals with topology and geometry in the context of elastic materials, including fibers with adaptive properties that are capable of mimicking neural networks and biological systems such as tumors. Patil’s research, which has been published in the journals Science and Nature, has applications in a range of fields, including engineering and medicine; he was collaborated with cardiac surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital to improve surgical knots
Faculty Host: Todd Martinez
Cody Aldaz studied chemistry at the University of New Mexico and the University of Michigan. He has received support for his work from the Department of Energy and the California Alliance Research Exchange, which brought him to Stanford as a visiting graduate student in 2018, where he pursued collaborations spanning the areas of photochemistry, computational chemistry, organic chemistry, and spectroscopy. As a Stanford Science Fellow, he will continue his work developing materials for application in medicine, defense technology, and other fields.
Faculty Hosts: Daniel Fisher and Steve Quake
Ivana Cvijović holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Cambridge and a PhD in Systems Biology from Harvard. As a Lewis-Sigler Theory Fellow at Princeton, she studied how populations of white blood cells, the basis of the immune system, evolve over the course of an individual’s lifetime. Her work combines evolutionary theory and the methods of physics and mathematics to understand how mutation and natural selection shape genetic diversity within large populations.
Faculty Hosts: Ansu Satpathy and Anshul Kundaje
Caleb Lareau studied biochemistry and mathematics at the University of Tulsa and biostatistics at Harvard. With support from the National Cancer Institute, he conducted his doctoral research at Harvard Medical School and the Broad Institute, where he developed new biotechnical and computational tools for understanding the genetic mechanisms underlying blood production in humans. As a Stanford Science Fellow, he will collaborate with researchers in the School of Medicine to understand genetic relationships among cells in the human body and investigate how cells respond to damage and disease.
Faculty Host: Monika Schleier-Smith
Shankari Rajagopal studied physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she earned her PhD. She has been active in mentoring and outreach and served as a co-organizer of the 2018–19 Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP), an official event of the American Physical Society. She came to Stanford as a postdoctoral scholar studying quantum physics and will continue to pursue experimental investigations of novel phases of matter as a Science Fellow.
Faculty Hosts: Nick Melosh and Bianxiao Cui
Viktoryia Shautsova received her bachelor’s degree in computer science from Belarus State University and a PhD in physics from Imperial College London. She will draw upon her deep knowledge in physics, material science, neuroscience and biology to develop nanoscale brain-computer interfaces for studying the human brain that could one day be allow people to interact with artificial intelligence systems.
Faculty Host: Sergiu Pasca
Alfredo Valencia earned a bachelor’s degree with honors in biochemistry at California’s Pitzer College. As a doctoral student in chemical biology at Harvard, he conducted research at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He was also an active member of the Minority Biomedical Scientists of Harvard and received recognition as a Diversity and Inclusion Fellow. He expects to continue his work on genetics and developmental disorders as a Stanford Science Fellow.