MIT student who won 2021 Rhodes Scholarship has J'can heritage

MIT student who won 2021 Rhodes Scholarship has J'can heritage

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

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Danielle Grey-Stewart, one of two Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) students selected for the 2021 cohort of the Rhodes Scholarship programme, has Jamaican heritage.

Grey-Stewart is the daughter of Jamaican Roy Grey-Stewart, who migrated to the United States in 1982, and his wife Denise, an American.

A news release from MIT reported that Grey-Stewart will join the 2021 American Rhodes Scholar class, while the other MIT awardee, Ghadah Alshalan, was awarded the Rhodes Scholarship for Saudi Arabia.

“They will begin fully funded postgraduate studies at Oxford University in the United Kingdom next fall,” the MIT release stated.

“The students were supported by MIT's distinguished fellowships team in career advising and professional development. They were also mentored by the Presidential Committee on Distinguished Fellowships,” MIT explained.

“We could not be more proud of our candidates,” the release quotes Professor Tamar Schapiro, who co-chairs the committee along with Professor Will Broadhead. “This year in particular, we are so impressed not only with their accomplishments but also with their resilience. Being interviewed for a Rhodes scholarship is intimidating enough as it is. Doing so remotely is even more challenging. We are thrilled that the spark we see in our students came through, even over Zoom.

The university release said that Grey-Stewart, who is from Long Island, New York, is a senior majoring in materials science and engineering. “As a Rhodes Scholar, she will pursue an MPhil in nature, society, and environmental governance at Oxford University's School of Geography and the Environment,” MIT said, adding that Grey-Stewart wants to become a leader in science policy with the goal of opening new avenues for fellow scientists of colour.

Grey-Stewart, MIT said, is conducting research in the laboratory of Professor Julia Ortony in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DSME), focusing on functionalised nanothread synthesis. She has also synthesised photoinitiating nanoparticles in the laboratory of Professor Moungi Bawendi in the Department of Chemistry and worked on biodegradable architectural materials in Professor Neri Oxman's Mediated Matter group at the MIT Media Lab.

She is the recipient of two National Science Foundation – Research Experience for Undergraduates grants, as well as the Horace A Lubin Award for Outstanding Service to the DMSE Community.

“Grey-Stewart chairs the MIT Undergraduate Association Committee on COVID-19. She has written articles on COVID-19's impact on sustainability for the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative Rapid Response Group. She is a member of the Student Advisory Group for Engineering, and MIT School of Engineering's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee,” the release said.

She has taught STEM classes to students in France through MIT Global Teaching Labs, is an outreach assistant with Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center, and was selected to travel to Navajo Nation to support lasting connections between MIT and Navajo community partners. ​

Her parents, the Jamaica Observer learnt yesterday, studied at City University of New York and her father was Caribbean Students' Association president at Baruch College in New York.

Alshalan, who is from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, will graduate next June with a Bachelor of Science in Physics and a minor in computer science. As a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, she will pursue a master's research programme in condensed matter physics.

“Physics captivated Alshalan in high school when she participated in national and international physics competitions and became Saudi Arabia's first female medallist,” MIT explained. “At MIT, Alshalan has conducted research with Professor Marin Soljacic at the Research Laboratory of Electronics, and Professor Vladan Vuletic at the MIT-Harvard Center for Ultracold Atoms. She is currently developing computational models relevant to quantum nanoelectronics with Professor Pablo Jarillo-Herrero in the Department of Physics. She also did a summer research internship at the University of Hamburg Center for Quantum Technologies in Germany.”

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