Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab has announced that multiple students have been awarded prestigious fellowships and scholar opportunities as they pursue rigorous doctorate, graduate, and undergraduate studies programs.
The entire Hunter College community celebrates Samantha Lish (’20) for her admittance to the National Institutes of Health Oxford-Cambridge (NIH OxCam) Scholars Program; Gina Sissoko (’17) for being awarded both the Ford Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellowship and the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP); and Jennifer Ferd (’20), Ariane Marchese (’20), and Teresa Panurach (’18) for also winning the NSF-GRFP. Nibras Ahmed (’21) has been named a Goldwater Scholar; Annabel Gregg (’23) and Camille Wilson (’23) have received the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship; and students Jadyn Marshall (’20), Rebecca Zhang (’20), Pooja Chopra (’20), Michelle Rangel (’19), and Ahmet Doymaz (’20) have been awarded Fulbright Scholarships. As previously announced, Saifeldeen Zihiri (’19) and Jennifer Dikler (’20) won Luce Scholarships this past February.
“We are incredibly proud of our students for their hard work and dedication to their studies. These students are truly extraordinary and inspire our entire Hunter community,” said Hunter College President Jennifer J. Raab. “Each year, Hunter College students receive prestigious awards and fellowships, and we look forward to continuing to connect our incredible young scholars with the opportunities they deserve.”
About the Recipients:
Samantha Lish (’20), a senior in the Macaulay Honors Program double majoring in Physics and Art with a Biophysics concentration and minoring in Mathematics, has been admitted to the NIH OxCam Scholars Program for Fall 2020. Lish will enroll as a full-time student at either the University of Oxford or Cambridge and will earn a Doctor of Philosophy degree by completing dissertation research under the guidance of two mentors – one from the NIH Intramural Research Program and the other from the University of Oxford or Cambridge. She plans to earn her PhD in photonics while exploring how light-tissue interactions can characterize, simulate, and treat disease. For the past three years, Lish worked as a bioengineering research assistant at The Rockefeller University Investigative Dermatology Lab, and recently joined Hunter College’s Biomedical Photonics lab. Last summer she participated in the Harvard-MIT Wellman Center for Photomedicine Bio-Optics Summer Institute.
Gina Sissoko (’17) graduated from Hunter College with a dual bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Women and Gender Studies. Sissoko has received a Pre-Doctoral Fellowship from the Ford Foundation and is one of four Hunter College students to win the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program this year. She is currently a doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Program at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where her research focuses on the experience of colorist microaggressions in Black women. Sissoko is mentored by Prof. Lorie Goshin, Dr. Kevin Nadal, and Dr. Maureen Allwood, and is interested in how systemic inequalities interact with race-related stress and trauma to affect mental health in Black communities, specifically women involved in the criminal justice system.
Jennifer Ferd (’20), a senior MARC scholar, is one of four Hunter College students to win the NSF’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program this year. She is a member of Prof. Mandë Holford’s biochemistry lab studying how venom can be applied as a therapeutic agent. Ferd developed the “pipeline” now used by Holford’s lab to synthesize new terebrid venom peptides for therapeutic strategies through selective inhibition of advanced liver cancer tumors. Prior to attending Hunter College, Ferd, a Brooklyn native, graduated from Midwood High School. She plans to attend graduate school for bioengineering where she “hopes to be the driving force that bridges the gap between foundational stem cell biology research and cell and tissue engineering.”
Ariane Marchese (’20), a senior physics major in the Macaulay Honors program, is one of four Hunter College students to win the NSF’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program this year. She works with Prof. Steve Greenbaum studying the unprecedented threat posed to the earth’s atmosphere by the accelerating growth of greenhouse gases. Marchese’s research seeks to ameliorate rising atmospheric CO2 levels through the development of materials capable of absorbing or converting atmospheric CO2. Prior to attending Hunter College, Marchese graduated from Townsend Harris High School in Queens. She plans to further her education in the Physics of Materials as a graduate student.
Teresa Panurach (’18), who graduated from Hunter College with a degree in Physics, is one of four Hunter College students to win the NSF’s Graduate Research Fellowship Program this year. She specializes in studying ultracompact X-ray binaries composed of exotic objects like black holes and neuron stars. In 2016, she was awarded an AstroCom NYC Fellowship and spent most of her undergraduate career researching blue stragglers at the American Museum of Natural History. She is currently a second-year doctoral student at Michigan State University pursuing her PhD in Astronomy and Astrophysics. With her NSF, she plans to create a multi-wavelength survey of black hole X-ray binaries in Galactic globular clusters to aid in answering not only the extent of the black hole population in globular clusters, but also what their physical properties are and in which environments they can survive.
Nibras Ahmed (’21), a junior in the Macaulay Honors program double majoring in Economics and Human Biology, has been named a Goldwater Scholar for the 2020-2021 academic school year. Ahmed was one of 482 scholars awarded by the Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation from a pool of 1,343 outstanding undergraduates nominated by 461 institutions. His dream is to earn an MD alongside a PhD in Biology, so that he can adapt research findings to his treatment of patients. In part this aspiration was inspired by an internship he completed at Pixie Scientific, a medical device startup that designs clinical diagnostic technologies to address medical conditions in minimally intrusive ways. As a researcher in Dr. Andrew M. Intlekofer’s lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, he has been studying how metabolic pathways regulate cell behavior and how deregulation of certain metabolic pathways contributes to cancer. Last year, Ahmed won the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship, which provides three successive summer internships beginning in New York and culminating in an international internship in the Fellow’s field of interest.
Annabel Gregg (’23), a freshman Roosevelt Scholar double majoring in Political Science and Environmental Studies, is one of two Hunter College students to receive the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship. Gregg has already distinguished herself outside the classroom as the CUNY Athletic Conference “Rookie of the Year” during her first season on the women’s varsity track team. Throughout her high school years in Greenwich, New York, Gregg was a leader of social and political causes in her hometown, organizing a 5k to raise money for and draw attention to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan, serving as the editor of her school newspaper, and initiating a town-wide conversation on the “Green New Deal.” Gregg’s interests lie in law, the environment, social justice, and gender equality. She does not yet know what career she will ultimately pursue, but says it will be “one that aims to save the environment or looks out for the ‘little guy.’”
Camille Wilson (’23), a freshman in the Macaulay Honors Program and a member of Hunter College’s Mock Trial Team, is one of two Hunter College students to receive the Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship. Wilson is a likely Political Science major, a devotee of 19th and 20th century literature, and a student of the African Diaspora. In her Watson application, Wilson named three possible future intellectual/political directions: to produce more accurately rendered narratives “of people whose problems are oversimplified in media,” in hopes of inciting corrective political action; to explore and illuminate “intertextuality” in Black Art; and to address racial disparities in health care and combat maternal death. Wilson is a graduate of Brooklyn Tech High School, has already made three short films, and is currently finishing the screenplay for her latest work, “Flatbush Derby, Mo.” One of her life’s ambitions, she says, is to be a “film activist.”
Jadyn Marshall (’20), a senior in the Macaulay Honors Program majoring in Creative Writing, is one of five Hunter students to win a Fulbright Scholarship this year. Marshall will teach English next year at the Hellenic American Educational Foundation in Athens, Greece. During her time at Hunter College, Marshall, originally from Putnam Valley, NY, was a Goldsmith Scholar and elected to Phi Beta Kappa, an achievement that put her in the top 1% of her class at Hunter College.
Rebecca Zhang (’20) is a senior in the Macaulay Honors Program graduating this spring with a BA in Behavioral Neurobiology. She is one of five Hunter students to be named a Fulbright Scholar this year. Zhang’s scholarship will take her to Germany to pursue neuroscience research. Zhang has logged over four years of hands-on research experience at labs all across the country, including at Hunter College, the Marine Biological Laboratory, the Salk Institute, MIT, and Columbia.
Pooja Chopra (’20) is a senior and JFEW Eleanor Roosevelt Scholar at Hunter College graduating this spring with a self-designed BA concentrating in South Asian Decolonial Feminisms. Chopra is one of five Hunter students to win a Fulbright Scholarship this year and will leave in the fall to undertake independent research in Puducherry, a southeastern coastal city in India. While at Hunter College, she has earned Belle Zeller and Jacqueline Schiller Scholarships, and has also won the Audre Lorde Prize for Poetry and served as a member of the Hunter College Senate.
Michelle Rangel (’19), a Macaulay Honors Scholar who graduated with a BA/BS degree in Psychology and a minor in Biological Sciences and Behavioral Neuroscience, is one of five Hunter students to be named a Fulbright Scholar this year. She will leave in the fall to teach English in India. Rangel spent four years as a Peer Health Exchange health educator, a year as a Student Government Senior Senator, and a Winter Term studying abroad in Australia, in addition to serving as captain of women’s fencing team for the 2018-19 season.
Ahmet Doymaz (’20), a Macaulay Honors Scholar graduating this spring with a BA in Biology, is one of five Hunter students to be named a Fulbright Scholar this year. His scholarship will take him to Germany to work in a research lab, studying the role of micropeptides in cell regulation and cancer. He was an active student-researcher during his Hunter College years, earning a prestigious internship at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. He plans to pursue an MD/PhD degree, working towards a career that bridges scientific research and clinical medical practice.
Saifeldeen “Saif” Zihiri (‘19), who graduated from Hunter College in June 2019 with a double major in Political Science and Religion and a certificate in Human Rights from the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute, is one of two Hunter students to be awarded a Luce Scholarship. As a Macaulay Honors Scholar, Zihiri won several fellowships as an undergraduate student at Hunter College and had three summer internships in human rights, made possible through a Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship. He was one of only 25 students nationally to be named a New York City Urban Fellow for 2019-2020. Growing up Muslim-American in New York, he has dedicated himself to studying extremist movements and government violations in the name of counter-extremism. As a New York City Urban Fellow, he has been placed with the New York City Police Department.
Jennifer Dikler (‘20), a senior in the Macaulay Honors Program majoring in Economics and Political Science and minoring in Mathematics, is one of two Hunter students to be awarded a Luce Scholarship. She will complete a five-year program in only four years at the end of this semester, and she will have accomplished this while working full-time as an immigrant paralegal at Tseitlin Law Firm. At Hunter College, Dikler cultivated her leadership skills as president of both the Macaulay Business Club and the Hunter Association of Business students, and benefited from the Cooperman Scholars Program. She gained experience in the field as an Investment Banking Summer Analyst at Barclays and as a Foundation Intern at Centerbridge Partners. As a CUNY Women in Public Service Scholar, Dikler served as an intern at the Office of the Manhattan Borough President and was the only intern on the prominent task force studying the proposed closure of the Rikers Island jails.
About the Awards:
National Institutes of Health Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program (NIH OxCam) offers students seeking combined MD/PhD training for careers as a physician-scientist access to mentors and resources from three collaborating institutions: the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the University of Oxford, and the University of Cambridge. The requirement of having at least two mentors from two of these institutions allows students to develop the skills needed to build virtual research teams and leverage collaborative technologies in the pursuit of bold new ideas and solutions. Efforts to differentiate from traditional biomedical training programs has allowed the NIH OxCam Scholars to enjoy intellectual freedom and flexibility, leading to increased innovation and collaboration.
Ford Foundation Pre-Doctoral Fellowship is awarded by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine on behalf of the Ford Foundation to approximately 70 individuals engaged in graduate studies leading to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Science (Sc.D.) degree. The awards are made to individuals who demonstrate superior academic achievement, are committed to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level, show promise of future achievement as scholars and teachers, and are well prepared to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students. Through its Fellowship Programs, the Ford Foundation seeks to increase the diversity of the nation’s college and university faculties by increasing their ethnic and racial diversity, maximize the educational benefits of diversity, and increase the number of professors who can and will use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF-GRFP) recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students pursuing research-based masters and doctoral degrees in National Science Foundation-supported disciplines within science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The program helps ensure the vitality of the human resource base of science and engineering in the United States and reinforces its diversity. NSF Fellows receive a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 allowance for tuition and fees paid directly to the accredited U.S. institution they choose to attend for their graduate education. Fellows are offered opportunities for international research and professional development, and the freedom to conduct their own research.
The Barry Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation was established by Congress in 1986 to serve as a living memorial to honor the lifetime work of Senator Barry Goldwater, who served his country for 56 years as a soldier and statesman, including 30 years in the U.S. Senate. Goldwater Scholarships are provided to college sophomores and juniors pursuing research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics and engineering fields. The foundation helps to ensure that the U.S. is producing the number of highly qualified professionals needed by our nation in these critical fields.
The Jeannette K. Watson Fellowship is open to all first- and second-year liberal arts students in CUNY’s senior colleges and a select number of private colleges in the New York metropolitan area. Each participating institution is permitted to nominate up to four students each year. The fellowship provides remarkable students with longitudinal mentoring to help them reflect on their educational and professional aspirations alongside transformative opportunities that expand their vision and potential to become effective and humane leaders. Each year, about 15 students receive three years of funding, an ongoing topical seminar for each cohort, and three consecutive summer experiences, including national and international internships.
The Fulbright U.S. Student Program was established by Congress in 1946 to serve as an exchange program offering opportunities for students and young professionals undertaking international graduate study, advanced research, university teaching, and primary and secondary school teaching worldwide. As the largest U.S. exchange program, the Fulbright U.S. Program currently awards approximately 2,000 grants annually in all fields of study and operates in more than 140 countries worldwide. From its inception, the Fulbright Program has fostered bilateral relationships in which citizens and governments of other countries work with the U.S. to set joint priorities and shape the program to meet shared needs. The world has been transformed since its inception, but the fundamental principle of international partnership remains at the core of the Fulbright mission.
The Henry Luce Foundation seeks to enrich public discourse by promoting innovative scholarship, cultivating new leaders, and fostering international understanding. Luce Scholarships pay for a year of language study and professional work in an Asian country with the purpose of building a greater understanding of Asia among potential American leaders. Only a limited number of high-achieving college graduates with outstanding leadership potential are eligible for consideration. Recipients of this unique award are not on career paths that would ordinarily take them to Asia. The Luce Scholarship provides recipients with a rare opportunity to experience the continent.
June 4, 2020: This release has been updated to reflect Ahmet Doymaz’ Fulbright Scholarship, which was announced after publication. Also since publication: Jadyn Marshall (Fulbright Scholar), Ahmet Doymaz (Fulbright Scholar), and Jennifer Dikler (Luce Scholar) have been named co-valedictorians of the Class of 2020; they are three of a record nine undergraduate students to share the title “valedictorian,” each having taken all their courses at Hunter and achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA.