P.D. Soros Fellowship for New Americans

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The Summer Awaits: How Recent Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows Are Spending Their Summers

The summer months can be a time for graduate school students to dive deeper into their field, but it can also be a time for them to return home, visit with family, or try something brand new. With Paul & Daisy Soros Fellows studying a wide range of fields—medicine, physics, law, history, business, music—and coming from all over the country and world, we wanted to find out how they are spending their summers.

Banner photo: 2017 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Ivan Forde infront of his studio in Italy at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, 2019.

Ahmed Ahmed 

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Incoming Harvard Medical School student Ahmed Ahmed will be in New York City this summer working with 2005 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Dave Chokshi at NYC Health + Hospitals. Ahmed will be focused on how the health system screens for the social needs of its patients so that it can help address the social and economic conditions that shape patients' health.

Andrea Sylvia Biscoveanu 

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MIT physics PhD student Andrea Sylvia Biscoveanu will be staying at MIT over the summer to continue her research on gravitational waves. She will also be making her annual trip to visit her grandparents and extended family in Bucharest, Romania, followed by trips to Italy’s Amalfi Coast and Krakow and Warsaw in Poland. 

Benjamin Chou 

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Early this year, Northwestern University JD/MBA student Benjamin Chou co-founded a startup, Stuart’s, with a team of his fellow MBA students at the Kellogg School of Management. Stuart’s works with apartment buildings to provide a new tenant amenity: premium barbers and hair stylists so tenants don’t have to leave their building. This summer, Ben will be working on the startup fulltime. Curious to see Stuart’s work? Visit their Instagram here. As for fun, Ben will be taking a road trip with his parents through northern New England and southern Canada.

Maria Camila Bustos 

Yale Law School student Maria Camila Bustos will be in Argentina in May for a short exchange program focused on human rights and the role of the legal system, particularly post-dictatorship. She will then spend June in Amsterdam and July in London where she will be working with the Climate Litigation Network, which supports climate lawsuits around the world.
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    2019 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Maria Camila Bustos in Bariloche in the Patagonia region, 2019.

Sitan Chen 

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Sitan Chen will be an intern at Microsoft Research in Redmond, California this summer. His research will be a continuation of the work he has been doing as a PhD student in theoretical computer science at MIT. Sitan will also be in Phoenix, Arizona in June to present a paper on learning mixture models at the Symposium on the Theory of Computing, and then in Los Angeles, California for a trip with his parents.

Iris Cong 

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Harvard University physics PhD student Iris Cong has been primarily focused on theoretical physics, however this summer she will begin working on a couple experimental projects with her research group. Iris will also be attending a month-long summer school in Les Houches, France on quantum many-body systems. “Many of the lecturers at this summer school are pioneers in my research field,” Iris writes. “I am very excited to gain key background knowledge and form important connections with both the experts and young researchers in my research area. I'm also really looking forward to hiking in the Alps, of course!”

Jenna Cook 

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A sociology PhD student at Harvard University, Jenna Cook is heading to central China—Hubei, Henan, and Anhui—to continue her research on how rural Chinese families responded to the family planning policy in the 1980s and 1990s. She will be doing fieldwork in June and July, and then returning to Cambridge, Massachusetts in August to write. 

Ivan Forde 

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Ivan Forde is doing a residency in Italy as a visual arts fellow at the Civitella Reniri Foundation. He was nominated and invited to participate in the six-week residency where he will continue creating work inspired by his grandmother’s village history among mythic and epic Italian poetry. Ivan writes, “it’s been a dream to be here.” Ivan graduated from Columbia University’s MFA program in 2018.

Hilda Huang 

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Pianist Hilda Huang will be a Protege Project artist at Chamber Music Northwest and a Fellow at the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival. Early in the summer she will be performing in Lucretia, which 2016 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow Shadi Ghaheri directed.

Woong Hwang 

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Woong Hwang has a very special trip home to Seattle, Washington planned this summer. Woong’s family will be welcoming his grandmother, who lives in South Korea, to the United States for her 90th birthday!
Most of Woong’s summer will be spent in a lab in New Haven, Connecticut where he is an MD/PhD student studying genetics at Yale University. His research focuses on understanding the nuclear transport pathway of a key protein in Wnt signaling. Given that many cancers, such as colon cancer, are caused by Wnt abnormalities, according to Woong, understanding the pathway is critical. Woong plans to present his research at the national Wnt Signaling Gordon Research Conference in August.

Carl Jiang 

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Yale Law School student Carl Jiang will be splitting his summer between a boutique litigation firm, Miller Shakman, and a civil rights firm, Loevy & Loevy. Both firms are in Chicago, Illinois where Carl grew up. He is planning on taking trips to Washington, DC, New York, and California.

Nancy Ko 

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Nancy Ko will be starting her PhD in history this fall at Columbia University. This summer, she’ll be a teaching assistant for Professor Jay Harris's course "The Ethics of Identity" at Harvard Summer School in Venice, Italy. Nancy explained that the course “explores questions of personal and group identity that are organized around Kwame Anthony Appiah's The Ethics of Identity, in conversation with his predecessors, interlocutors, and opponents.” Nancy, who grew up in Brooklyn, will also be visiting family in Jeju and Seoul, South Korea for the first time since high school.


Kathy Ku 

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Social entrepreneur and medical school student Kathy Ku recently finished her first week of an eight-week clinical surgery rotation. For the rotation, Kathy arrives at the hospital at five in the morning and leaves after six in the evening and works six days a week. Despite the long hours, Kathy is excited to be in the hospital setting as this is her first clinical rotation.

Angela Ma 

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Harvard University economics PhD student Angela Ma will be putting her research skills to work as a graduate intern in the Boston Fed's Supervisory Research and Analysis (SRA) Unit. She’ll also be attending the Yale Summer School in Behavioral Finance.

Jonathan Marquez 

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Citizen science has taken Jonathan Marquez’s summer by storm. “I am helping to record sizes and activities of local frog populations in New Haven as part of Frog Watch USA, thanks to training held by this organization in collaboration with the Peabody Museum at Yale University,” Jonathan explains. “This project gives scientists an idea of how different frog species populations are changing over time across the nation with participants ranging from individual to families with children interested in science going out to local areas to listen for frog calls. This provides important insights into broader environmental changes since amphibians such as frogs are often thought of as indicator species that tell us about even small changes in their environment before other changes become visible.”
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Frogs are not only an important species to understand in the context of climate change, but they are also important to his work studying congenital disease at the Pediatric Genomics Discovery Program at Yale, where he is an MD/PhD student. In the Khokha Lab, frogs are their main model organism that they use to study patient disease. Curious about citizen science projects in your area? You can find more information here

Aseem Mehta 

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Yale Law School student Aseem Mehta will be working as a summer law clerk at the New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice where he’ll be focused on labor organizing, immigration representation, and economic justice litigation. In addition, in June, as part of his work with the Yale Law School Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, Aseem will be leading the oral argument in federal district court in Massachusetts in a case challenging the law enabling prolonged incarceration of immigrants. He’ll be visiting his parents in Boston and his sister in Toronto this summer.

Hamid Nasir 

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Georgetown Law School student Hamid Nasir will be based in Washington, DC and working as a reserve army officer on the joint staff, which works for the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. He’ll also be visiting family in Alaska, where he was born and raised.

Samir Paul 

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Former teacher Samir Paul will be working for the Center for Public Research and Leadership at Columbia Law School where he is currently a student. The Center acts as a non-profit consulting firm that supports organizations in the education sector. Samir will also be working as a research assistant for Elizabeth Scott, whose work is focused on juvenile criminal law. Outside of work and research, Samir will be visiting his nephews and hosting an annual family potluck known as the “Feast,” which he describes “Like a wedding or a funeral, except you can actually enjoy it and it happens every year.”

Natalia Reyes 

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Writer Natalia Reyes graduated from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop MFA program at the University of Iowa in the spring and will be staying in Iowa City for another year to teach advanced creative writing to English majors at the University as a Postgraduate Visiting Writer Fellow in fiction. This summer, Natalia will be attending the Cuttyhunk Island Residency as a Paul Cuffee Scholar.
Natalia will be a Maat Scholar at the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley Writers Workshops, and a John Leggett Scholar in fiction at the Napa Valley Writers' Conference. For fun, she’ll be traveling to Mexico City to visit friends and explore the city.

Muhammad Saad Shamim 

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This summer, Baylor College of Medicine student and Rice University PhD student Muhammad Saad Shamim will be continuing his research and mentoring undergraduate students through summer research programs. Even more exciting, Muhammad will be getting married!

Jennifer Shin 

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One of the primary reasons Jennifer Shin chose to pursue a joint degree in architecture and forestry and environmental studies at Yale University was to pursue her interest in urban ecology and how urban systems are linked to ecological systems. This summer, Jennifer will be doing just that as she collects data on ecological restoration and design sites in the greater Baltimore area. The data, which will be in the form of drawings, photos, mapping, and graphic analysis, will serve as the foundation for an urban ecology primer for designers. Jennifer will also be being using the data to look at “how urban ecological systems are also linked to social ecological systems, and how design influences the success or failure of these systems.” Jennifer will be researching with ecologist Morgan Grove, the lead researcher at the US Forest Service Baltimore Field Station. Her work is being supported by the Hixon Center for Urban Ecology at Yale, which selected Jennifer as a Hixon Student Research Fellow.

Norma Torres Mendoza 

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Growing up undocumented in the United States, unable to leave, Norma Torres Mendoza has had a world-wind first year of business school at Rice University. She traveled to Germany, Spain, Italy, and Peru, all while learning about international business and helping startups analyze new markets. This summer she is interning at Ernest & Young where she will be focused on mergers and acquisitions consulting.

Shreyas Vissapragada 

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Caltech planetary science PhD student Shreyas Vissapragada will be receiving his master’s in the field in June and then continuing his PhD research this summer. Shreyas will be commissioning and working with new instrumentation that, as he explains, may “allow us to see the upper atmospheres of extra-solar planets getting ripped off by high-energy radiation from their host stars.” He will spend the summer testing the instrumentation along with his lab mates, and they hope to have their first observations with the new technology on the night of August 15. In addition, Shreyas will be developing his search for a new molecule in Venus’s atmosphere.

Helen Zhou 

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Carnegie Mellon computer science PhD student Helen Zhou will be heading west to the Bay Area for the summer. Helen will be interning at Google, where she will be working with mentors and clinicians in the health division. Outside of work, she’ll be training for the San Francisco Half-Marathon and building furniture.
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