Click on an award category below to view the 2020 recipient(s):
2020 Astronaut Scholarship Recipient
Zane Durante is a rising senior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and a Bachelor of Arts in Applied and Computational Mathematics. Eager to dive into artificial intelligence projects at USC, Zane joined the Center for AI in Society, Student Branch (CAIS++) in the fall of his freshman year. His first completed project used machine learning to detect skin cancer from medical images. He has continued to teach and conduct research with CAIS++ throughout his undergraduate career and served as the club’s Vice President for Curriculum this past year. He is currently collaborating with linguists to develop machine learning algorithms to document and preserve endangered languages. Additionally, Zane’s research at USC’s Signal Analysis and Interpretation Lab (SAIL) involves using machine learning and AI to understand communication and behavior patterns in children and detect deception in speech. He received two USC Provost Undergraduate Research Fellowships to develop this project throughout the spring and fall of 2019, has already presented and published much of this project, and has additional plans to publish more recent findings. Zane’s work with SAIL continues this summer as he joins a new project that uses machine learning to generate real time MRI videos of the human vocal tract given a person’s speech. This work will be funded by a third Provost Fellowship for the summer semester. Zane plans to continue his research with SAIL for the duration of his undergraduate career and apply to graduate school this fall to pursue a PhD in artificial intelligence or machine learning, focusing on natural language processing or computer vision to solve problems facing human health and well-being. He previously won the Astronaut Scholarship for the 2019/2020 academic year. As a part of this honor, scholars receive up to a $10,000 award; expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the “Innovators Gala”; mentoring by an Astronaut Scholar alumni, C-suite executive, or astronaut; opportunity to participate in the Professional Development Program sponsored by RBC; the opportunity to participate in multiple Foundation events; and membership in the Astronaut Scholar Honor Society.
Read more about Zane:
2020 Boren Scholarship Recipients
Boren Scholarships provide funding for rigorous language study in exchange for a commitment to work in the federal government for at least one year after graduation.
Shir Attias won the Boren Scholarship to Jordan to study Arabic for the 2020-2021 grant year. Shir is a senior majoring in both Political Economy and International Relations. Shir plans to pursue a career in foreign policy and national security.
Srividya Dasaraju was awarded a Boren Scholarship to study Bahasa Indonesia in Indonesia. Srividya is a senior majoring in International Relations and completing a Master’s degree in Public Diplomacy. She plans to pursue a career in foreign policy, focused on international conflict prevention and peace-building.
Lisa de Ràfols will use the Boren Scholarship to travel to Brazil to study Portuguese. Lisa is a senior majoring in Economics and International Relations with a minor in French. She plans to pursue a career in international economic development, focusing on sustainability and forced migration.
Isabelle Nazha won a Boren Scholarship to study French in Senegal. Isabelle is a senior majoring in International Relations and French. She plans to work as a research assistant at the RAND Corporation in Washington, DC., specifically as a part of the core team in the National Security Research Division.
Megan Smith will travel to Tanzania to study Swahili through Boren’s AFLI Program. Megan is a senior majoring in both International Relations and French. She plans to pursue a career in peacebuilding and conflict prevention.
2020 Critical Language Scholarship Recipients
The Critical Language Scholarship is a competitive program for 8-10 weeks of intensive language study in one of fifteen critical need languages. This year, 32 USC students applied. 2 were selected as Finalists to receive the scholarship. Due to COVID-19, the following recipients were not able to complete the program.
Samir Alam is a current PhD student in Linguistics. Samir won the CLS to study Bangla in Kolkata during summer 2020.
Diego Frankel is a junior pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and in Computational Linguistics. Diego won the CLS to study Swahili in Tanzania during summer 2020.
2020 CSPC Presidential Fellows Program
One USC student is selected annually by the University for the CSPC Presidential Fellows program, a year-long program to complete research relating to the study of the U.S. Presidency and Congress. Fellows also participate in three-day leadership conferences in Washington, D.C. during the Fall and Spring semesters.
Elise (Ellie) Burger graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. Elise was nominated as the University’s CSPC Presidential Fellow in August 2019.
Her completed paper, “The Digital Disruption of Donald Trump: How a Republican Candidate Won the Internet” is published in the CSPC 2019-20 Fellows Review.
2020 Fulbright U.S. Student Program Recipients
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program provides grants for individually designed study/research projects or for English Teaching Assistant Programs.
Lena Aloumari graduated in May 2017 with a Master of Arts in Teaching from the Rossier School of Education. Lena was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant to the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. She will focus on providing English instruction to Jordanian university or secondary school students while conducting independent research regarding access to quality education and culturally-relevant curricula for growing numbers of disenfranchised communities. Lena plans to continue her career as an educator and as an advocate for equity in education.
Natalie Balladarsch graduated in December 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and a minor in Spanish. Natalie was awarded a Fulbright grant to Spain where she will teach at a university in Madrid. She will examine the impact of immigrant communities on Spanish culture and develop an international dance project in Madrid. Natalie plans to pursue a global career with an emphasis on diversity of thought and experience.
Yasmin Barkett graduated from USC in May 2018 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and a minor in Psychology and Law. Yasmin was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant to Colombia where she will serve as a teaching assistant at a university. She also hopes to teach free English classes in the local community and bridge the opportunity gaps between those fortunate enough to attend a university and those who cannot. She plans to pursue a career in international education development.
Dillon Brown will graduate in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Economy and a Bachelor of Science in Public Policy and Law. Dillon was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant to Greece where he will teach students at local schools in Athens. He plans to pursue a career in public policy, focusing on education and other economic social issues.
Alex Bruno will graduate in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and a minor in The Dynamics of Early Childhood. Alex was awarded a Fulbright research grant to Poland to study fetal cardiology, analyzing how time of diagnosis affects long term outcomes for children with congenital heart defects. He plans to apply to medical school and pursue a career in cardiothoracic surgery.
Ashley Chainani graduated in December 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. Ashley was awarded a Fulbright grant to Spain where she will teach English and explore how Spain’s educational system allows for intergenerational socioeconomic mobility. She plans to pursue a career in public policy or non-profit work.
Lisa de Ràfols will graduate in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and International Relations with a minor in French. Lisa was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Award to Colombia and a Boren Scholarship to learn Portuguese in Brazil. She plans to pursue a career in international economic development, focusing on sustainability and forced migration.
Nathan Duong will graduate in May 2020 with a Bachelor if Arts in Cognitive Science and a minor one The Dynamics of Early Childhood. He was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship grant to the Canary Islands in Spain in an early childhood classroom. He plans to start a surf program as a means of allowing his students to practice their English in a natural setting.
Marisa Fuse graduated in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Law, History, and Culture. She was awarded a Fulbright teaching grant to South Korea, where she will be teaching English and exploring the cross-cultural connections between the U.S. and Korea. After her fellowship, she plans to enter the public policy realm focusing on criminal justice reform.
Eva Isakovic will graduate in December 2020 with a degree in Economics as a Trustee scholar. She was awarded a Boren Scholarship to study Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian in Belgrade, Serbia and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. After graduation, she will return to Sarajevo with a Fulbright research grant examining the persisting effects of civil war on Bosnian political engagement and economic health. Eva plans to pursue a PhD in Comparative Politics, and hopes to work on future ethnic reconciliation and democratization policy in areas affected by conflict.
Abigail Jackson will graduate in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Computational Neuroscience and a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy. Abigail was awarded a Fulbright research grant to Germany where she will work with Dr. Yvonne Genzel’s team at the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics of Complex Technical Systems. She plans to pursue a PhD after her Fulbright grant period.
Ichigo Mina Kaneko is a PhD candidate in Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture. Mina was awarded a Fulbright grant to Japan for doctoral dissertation research on the role and symbolism of the mushroom in Japanese literature and media after WWII. She is a recipient of the Provost’s Fellowship and a candidate for the Translation Studies and Visual Studies Research Institute.
Nayanika Kapoor will graduate in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Political Science, with a minor in East Asian Languages and Cultures. Nayanika was awarded a Fulbright grant to Taiwan, where she will be teaching English. She plans to pursue a career in political communication and policy focusing on race and gender.
Catherine Knox will graduate in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Engineering with a minor in International Relations. Catherine was awarded a Fulbright graduate study grant to attend Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam in the Netherlands for a Master’s degree in Environment and Resource Management, where she will specialize in water and society. She plans to pursue a career in transboundary water management, focused on the integration of technology with water policy.
Aarohi Mahableshwarkar will graduate in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and a minor in Natural Science. Aarohi was awarded a Fulbright research grant to India where she will examine the efficacy of government policies in supporting the proliferation of opioid addiction treatment. She plans to earn a medical degree and pursue a career in global health, working at the nexus of healthcare, science, and policy.
Kristen Mascarenhas will graduate in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and a minor in Health Policy. Kristen was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant grant to India. She plans to attend medical school and pursue a career as a pediatrician, focusing on issues of health equity and education.
Jenna Mazza will graduate in May 2020 with Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Spanish. She was awarded a Fulbright research grant to Spain to investigate the individual impact of Barcelona’s asylum policies on refugees in the city. Jenna plans to pursue a career in international development with a focus on gender and forced migration policy.
Chinyere Nwodim will graduate in May 2020 with a Master of Fine Arts in Writing for the Screen & Television. She received a Fulbright research award to Brazil where she will explore how the synthesis of Brazil’s many cultural identities is represented in science fiction and fantasy and what these stories reveal about deeper fears, myths, and hopes. She plans to pursue a career as a writer and filmmaker.
Gregory Randolph is a PhD candidate in urban planning and development at the Sol Price School of Public Policy. He was awarded a Fulbright research fellowship for his dissertation work on rural-to-urban transitions in India.
Jorge Sandoval will graduate in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in Interactive Entertainment Game Design and minor in Computer Programming. Jorge was awarded a Fulbright English teacher grant to Mexico where he will teach English through the use of computer programming and video games. He plans to pursue a career in Foreign Service, as a foreign service officer for the United States’ Department of State.
Michael Smith will graduate in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication. Michael was awarded a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant Fellowship in Bulgaria, where he will teach Bulgarian high school students English. After his fellowship he plans on pursuing a law degree with an emphasis in international law.
Kurtis Weatherford will graduate in May 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Political Economy with a minor in Human Security and Geospatial Intelligence. He was awarded a Fulbright teaching grant to Greece where he will teach English while exploring additional opportunities to work in refugee and climate resilience education. He plans to pursue graduate education and a career in public policy with a focus on climate and migration policy.
Melissa Xu is graduating with a Master’s in Global Medicine, after receiving a Bachelor’s in Neuroscience and a minor in Spanish from USC Dornsife. She received a Fulbright grant to teach English in Ecuador, where she also hopes to serve as a health volunteer, especially after the effects of COVID-19. She plans to pursue a future in medicine focusing on limited resource healthcare.
Sarah Yeomans will graduate in 2021 with a Ph.D. in Art History. She is an archaeologist who specializes in medical practices, technologies and the impact of pandemic events in ancient Rome. Sarah was awarded a Fulbright research fellowship to Turkey where she conducts archaeological research at Rhodiapolis, a Graeco-Roman city with a large medical complex that dates to the second century C.E.
2020 Goldwater Scholarship Recipients
The Goldwater Scholarship provides support to undergraduate students majoring in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics who intend to pursue research careers in these fields.
Aaron Ghrist is a junior pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Applied and Computational Mathematics and a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry (chemical nanoscience), with a minor in Classical Perspectives. During his time at USC, Aaron has worked on multiple projects within three distinct labs (Dawlaty, Bradforth and Winter). He has been involved with an electrochemistry collaboration with research groups from the University of Houston and Binghamton University as well as leading his own inquiry into electric fields within aerosols. Aaron has also spent summers working with the Fritz-Haber Institute’s Department of Molecular Physics in Germany and Paris. A National Merit Scholar, Aaron has received competitive USC Undergraduate Research Fellowships (Summer 2018, Fall 2018, and Spring 2019) to support his work. Aaron is currently enrolled in a directed research course with the goal of a first author paper and balances his academic pursuits with responsibilities as a Resident Assistant and playing principal trumpet. Ultimately, Aaron plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Applied Physics and conduct research while teaching at the university level.
Leena Mathur is a third-year undergraduate pursuing three majors: Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, Bachelor of Arts in Cognitive Science, and a Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics. A Presidential Scholar, Leena arrived to USC with a strong interest in robotics and AI and joined the Interaction Lab in USC’s Robotics and Autonomous Systems Center in her first month. She has co-authored and presented her machine learning research from her projects in the Interaction Lab and Linguistics Department. Leena is currently working on independent research towards a senior thesis, funded by multiple Provost’s Research Fellowships. Leena has also conducted research at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, funded by a competitive fellowship from their School of Computer Science. She holds significant campus leadership roles, working as a Resident Assistant and serving as Head of Projects for USC’s largest student machine learning research group in the Center for Artificial Intelligence in Society. Leena aspires to be a university professor after pursuing a PhD in Computer Science, to conduct research that advances human-centered AI.
Stephen Quiton is a sophomore pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts in Applied and Computational Mathematics. Stephen’s first exposure to his field of interest came during his home state’s Tennessee Governor’s School for Computational Physics – a summer research camp for high school juniors. A year later, Stephen earned a Presidential Scholarship to attend USC. During his first year, Stephen sought out a research experience exploring computational simulations in USC’s Sharada Lab. He went on to secure an internship at Oak Ridge Lab the summer before his sophomore year – a site he had visited during the Tennessee Governor’s School that sparked his interest. Stephen is now focusing on upper division math courses beyond what is required for the chemical engineering degree. He is also starting a new project using computational chemistry under the advisement of Professor Sharada. Ultimately, Stephen plans to complete a Ph.D. in Theoretical/Quantum Chemistry and go on to pursue a full-time position in computational research at a private company, university, or national laboratory.
Emily Yang is a junior pursing a Bachelor of Science in Quantitative Biology– a new and very challenging major at USC – along with a minor in Sociology. She selected this combination of programs to explore how social factors can impact health. Emily began developing her basic lab skills in high school when she served as a volunteer in the Yang Lab and Yamazaki Lab at the University of Hawai’i. Emily received the Presidential Scholarship and sought out research experience within the Arnold Lab her first semester of enrollment at USC. Emily has received competitive undergraduate research grants (USC Provost and SOAR) as well as the biological sciences-specific Wattis Dumke Undergraduate Research Fellowship to fund her research. In between her academic coursework, Emily secured summer research internships back at the University of Hawai’i in the Presting Lab and Carbone/Yang Lab conducting molecular biology and cancer research. Emily is currently enrolled in “Introduction to Computational Analysis of Biological Data” – a capstone class for the major that will result in a final project. Ultimately, Emily plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. in neuroscience and conduct research on the genetic causes of schizophrenia relating to neurodevelopment and reclassify the types of schizophrenia using genetic and behavioral data.
2020 National Science Foundation GRFP Recipients
The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines who are pursuing research-based Master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited United States institutions.
- Angela Yang – Engineering – Biomedical Engineering
- Paul Lauridsen – Chemistry – Chemical Catalysis
- Matthew Nicholas Dods – Engineering – Chemical Engineering
- Bonnie Jiwon Park – Chemistry – Chemistry of Life Processes
- Arynn Orlanes Gallegos – Engineering – Electrical and Electronic Engineering
- Olivia Rose David – Social Sciences – Public Policy
- Martin Tran – Life Sciences – Developmental Biology
- Emilie J Skoog – Geosciences – Geobiology
- Aduragbemi Jibodu – Engineering – Mechanical Engineering
- Taleen Mahseredjian – Geosciences – Geobiology
- Catrina McKenzie Hacker – Psychology – Cognitive Neuroscience
- Cooper James Yerby – Geosciences – Geobiology
- Divya Gupta – Engineering – Biomedical Engineering
- Jed Hyun-Ho Kim – Chemistry – Chemical Synthesis
- Roberto Rodrigo Nazario – Physics and Astronomy – Theoretical Physics
- Hannah Marie Adams – Geosciences – Chemical Oceanography
- Asa Conover – Life Sciences – Ecology
- Ringo H Huang – Psychology – Cognitive Neuroscience
- Anna Thrane Wright – Geosciences – Hydrology
2020 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship
Every year, The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans supports thirty New Americans, immigrants or the children of immigrants, who are pursuing graduate school in the United States. They will each receive up to $90,000 in funding for the graduate program of their choice. The Fellows were selected for their potential to make significant contributions to US society, culture, or their academic field. This year’s Fellows were selected from a pool of 2,211 applicants from across the country.
2020 Schwarzman Scholarship Recipients
Designed to prepare young leaders to serve as a bridge between China and the rest of the world, Schwarzman Scholars is the first scholarship created to respond to the geopolitical landscape of the 21st Century. The program offers the world’s best and brightest students the opportunity to develop their leadership skills and professional networks through a fully-funded one-year Master’s Degree at Tsinghua University in Beijing. This year, 33 USC students applied. 4 were selected as Finalists, and of those, 3 were selected as Scholars.
Christopher Carpenter is an alumnus who earned B.A. degrees in Film & Television Production and Cognitive Science. Christopher has consulted with and produced media for organizations in Japan, Kenya, India, and others, measuring impact to inform policy. Christopher produced and directed “The Happiness Diaries,” a documentary series exploring the Government of Delhi’s Happiness Curriculum initiative. Christopher held the William J. Clinton Fellowship for Service in India and the Global East Asia Fellowship for Study in China, and has led service trips to Thailand.
Gabrielle (Ella) Roberts is an alumnae who earned a B.A. in Film & Television Production and B.S. in Computer Science. She founded the nonprofit, Code Your Chances, and runs coding camps for young girls internationally. At USC, she served on the executive board of Code the Change, a tech-consulting organization for nonprofits. Gabrielle studied machine learning through Oxford and Stanford University and is presenting her published ML research project at MIT’s 2019 IEEE conference. She has worked with Oscar-winning filmmakers, screened her films globally, and currently works for Los Angeles startup, Brud.
Songzhi (Richard) Huang is a senior in the USC World Bachelor in Business program. During his undergraduate studies, he represented his universities to participate in business case competitions and student consulting projects in Asia, North America, South America, and Europe. Songzhi has a passion to understand how communities and businesses evolve under different city infrastructure development schemes. As a Schwarzman Scholar, Songzhi aspires to explore the topic of sustainable growth for companies and cities through the lenses of business.