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P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans

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Grace Huiling Zhang, 2019

PhD, Harvard University

Grace Huiling Zhang is the child of immigrants from China

Fellowship awarded to support work towards a PhD in Physics at Harvard University

Grace H. Zhang was born in Tucson, Arizona, where her parents immigrated to pursue their graduate studies. At the age of five, she moved to Shanghai to live with her grandparents, who caringly raised her and helped her gain a valuable understanding and appreciation for Chinese culture. Grace returned to America when she was ten and settled in East Brunswick, New Jersey together with her mom, whose endless strength and resilience inspires her to this day.

With the support of her friends and mentors in East Brunswick, Grace found her passion for the sciences and eventually enrolled in MIT for her undergraduate studies in physics.

Since beginning her studies at MIT, Grace has explored research in a variety of topics in experimental and theoretical physics, publishing five papers—three as leading authors—across journals of Physical Review, Review of Scientific Instruments, Nature Physics, and Science. Throughout this journey, she discovered her fascination with emergent phenomena, where assemblies of subunits yield collective properties dramatically different from the mere sum of their constituents. Upon graduation, Grace was recognized for both her research and community service through the Malcolm Cotton Brown Award, the Order of the Lepton Award, and the Joel Matthew Orloff Award.

Grace is currently a graduate student at Harvard University, studying theoretical soft condensed matter physics with a focus on emergent phenomena in materials and biological networks. In the future, she aspires to be a professor, working in a rich interdisciplinary context, where she can build quantitative models using physical principles and effectively couple them with knowledge of biochemical processes to understand the growing wealth of intriguing experimental data. Inspired by her own mentors, she also strives to make a difference towards the growth of a diverse and inclusive scientific community.

  • BS Physics | Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) 2017
  • PhD Physics | Harvard University
  • MIT Order of the Lepton Award
  • MIT Joel Matthew Orloff Award for Service
  • Harvard James Mills Peirce Fellowship Recipient
  • MIT Malcolm Cotton Brown Award
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow
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