Lisa Fung - Saratoga, CA ($5,000 recipient)
Lisa graduated from Saratoga High School in 2023. She was named a Regeneron Science Talent Search Scholar in 2023 for her research in exploratory data analysis using CMIF modeling. From Fall 2022 to early 2023, Lisa participated in the Modeling The Future Challenge on a project that entailed analyzing California Wildfire data and creating mathematical models to (1) identify the impact of different wildfire causes and (2) provide mitigation recommendations to reduce the risks of high-cost wildfires across the state. In the Fall of 2023, Lisa will attend Stanford University with plans to double-major in computer science and environmental engineering.
“At Stanford, I plan to extend my research at the Stanford Geospatial Center to further investigate the connections between geospatial data and urban development and utilize the insight to optimize essential aspects of urban planning, such as road optimization to improve traffic flow, ways to reduce water runoff, and designing efficient energy distribution systems. …I hope that my research can bring measurable improvement to people’s lives and lead to the creation of more sustainable and disaster-proof energy infrastructure… I would like to share my knowledge and experience with…students to inspire them to pursue their STEM interests and forge their own paths.”
Meitalia Factor - Miami, FL ($3,000 recipient)
Meitalia graduated from Scheck Hillel Community School in 2023. She has dedicated much of her time to the nonprofit Neighborhood Farms, teaching Miami youth about their engineered garden sprinkler systems, the science of food, and technological innovation in food science. In her most recent summer internship with Verizon Innovative Learning, Meitalia was in charge of teaching coding and robotics to over thirty students from low-income schools. When representatives from the government and Verizon visited to reevaluate funding for the program, Meitalia spoke about the importance of STEM access for at-risk youth and the tenacity, perseverance, and creativity the program fostered—a speech which helped to ensure continued funding for the program.
“In the future, I’ll use my degree to maximize farming productivity using engineering, by developing agricultural systems using sensors, data systems, and community-led outreach. I…work toward a world where a woman like me in engineering is considered the norm. I can’t wait to use my degree and transform every classroom I walk into in pursuit of both my worldwide food security dreams and hopes for further representation in engineering.”
Varija Mehta - Edison, NJ ($2,000 recipient)
Varija graduated from Edison Academy Magnet School in 2023. She served as President of the Class of 2023 and served as Chief Marketing Officer at an organization called Reinvented Magazine, which she joined during the pandemic. In high school, Varija joined the Civil Air Patrol, introducing her to the field of cybersecurity and giving her the opportunity to lead hundreds of young cadets across the country to become better leaders. All four years of high school, Varija competed in CyberPatriot: Air Force Association’s National Youth Cyber Defense Competition, which entailed finding and fixing vulnerabilities in operating systems. She also completed her first professional cybersecurity certification: GIAC Foundational Cybersecurity Technologies (GFACT) and is currently working on a cloud security certification. Last summer, Varija had the opportunity to intern with the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security & Preparedness (NJOHSP), giving her insight into how the state handles various cybersecurity issues and makes best practice recommendations for citizens.
“Cybersecurity is the perfect combination of my two interests: technology and helping people. …Cybersecurity is a field that is rapidly growing and has positions that need to be filled. I want to be able to use my degree to help protect people’s data. As more information goes digital, protecting federal agencies from cyberattacks is a significant responsibility. These agencies have a plethora of information, from matters relating to national security to people’s financial data, and this attracts a lot of hackers. My culture and upbringing have always emphasized the importance of helping others. …I am excited to study Computer Science at Cornell University…so that I can…help others and make a difference in the world.”
Lily Chen - Cambridge, MA ($5,000 Recipient)
Lily currently attends MIT and will be entering into her third year in the fall of 2023. In 2020, Lily worked as the Director of Hacker Experience for TechTogether, the nation’s largest all-female hackathon founded to fight gender inequality in technology. Over the past three years, Lily founded and built up REVAnalytics (revolanalytics.com) in an effort to increase affordability and accessibility of healthcare through data solutions. She developed a free iOS app called MyMedicationReminder for the management of medication for the elderly, which has been downloaded by over 1,000 people. Roughly 2,000 people from around the world have used the web app she developed for a Diabetic Retinopathy (DR) diagnosis. About 800 residents have used her New Jersey COVID-19 tracker, and about 350 students have used her therapy buddy app, called Therapyeet, for mental health tracking. Lily has presented her research on DR at various fairs and competitions and has led community initiatives to implement her technologies by engaging elderly groups and Aravind Hospital. To expand the impact of REVAnalytics, Lily started a mask drive during the COVID-19 pandemic through which she was able to donate more than 1,000 masks to Veteran centers. Additionally, she started an educational initiative hosting 5 Machine Learning Workshops (which about 160 students have attended) and a free girls coding camp (attended by 35 girls) to encourage students to build solutions for social good. Lily has also hosted workshops at the MIT Bitcoin Club, teaching women the fundatmentals of blockchain technologies. She founded Girls Who Code to empower women in her community and get them engaged in technology. As the president of Mu Alpha Theta, she tripled female membership in weekly competitive mathematics problem-solving sessions and personally mentored three girls to qualify for the American Invitational Methematics Exam (AIME). Lily is currently a member of the Board of Technology and Outreach of MIT Society of Women Engineers and a mentor in MITxHarvard Women in AI. Lily has been recognized as a Coca Cola Scholar, a Taco Bell Live Mas Scholar, and a Society of Women Engineers Scholar for her technological contributions with REVAnalytics and efforts to empower women in tech.
“My project has directly impacted thousands of people so far, and I believe it has left a lasting legacy on the health of thousands of lives… Looking towards the future, I dream of earning my PhD in machine learning and research methods to make machine learning and natural language processing for healthcare more robust, fair, accessible, and non-discriminatory. I strive to work alongside female technology leaders to expand REVAnalytics’ impact to other health issues…and involve more people into community initiatives to advance the mission of serving free and accessible health solutions to communities with innovation.”
Sindhu Belki - Tuscaloosa, AL ($3,000 Recipient)
Sindhu currently attends The University of Alabama, majoring in Aerospace Engineering and minoring in Mathematics and Mechanical Engineering. At 18 years old, she left her home in Qatar to pursue a degree in Aerospace Engineering. Once at University, Sindhu joined the Alabama Rocketry Association (the university’s rocketry club) and empowered more women to join the club to balance the gender scales. Last year, she spearheaded her rocketry team’s STEM engagement campaign by volunteering at the Tuscaloosa Rocketry Challenge competition, which involved giving a presentation to middle school students about the history and importance of space and helping them build and launch their own water bottle rockets. In her freshman year, Sindhu was elected to Project Manager for the NASA Student Launch team, creating a more inclusive environment that helped bring in more female recruits under her leadership. She was among 18 people worldwide who were selected to be part of the prestigious Zed Factor Fellowship (created to raise up underrepresented minorities in the space industry), through which she’s had the opportunity to work with the Aerospace Industries Association. In April 2022, Sindhu was selected as the sole recipient of the SEDS SGFF Scholarhip and was invited to attend the conference in Colorado, which provided a “truly mind-blowing” experience. Sindhu was also selected from hundreds of applicants worldwide to be part of the 25-member Organizing Team for the Space Generation Congress, to be held in Baku Azerbaijan this September where she will be among space and aviation industry people from all over the world. Last summer, Sindhu interned at Reboot Reforestation, a startup that uses drones to plant trees, which gave her the opportunity to work on designing, printing and assessing a 3D model of the solution. Prior to that, Sindhu worked with a UK-based aviation outreach company called Flight Crowd as the Higher Education Officer, ideating and initiating outreach projects to educate the public about Urban Air Mobility, specifically about diversity and inclusion in the UAM industry. Sindhu is currently working to establish a Women of Aeronautics and Astronautics (WoAA) in Qatar to provide knowledge, reassurance, and opportunity to Qatari women who wouldn’t otherwise get the chance to explore this realm.
“I chose to pursue Aerospace Engineering because it combined my love for space and curiosity in engineering. …The ability to break down rocket science and make it understandable in layman’s terms is a unique skill and one I am working to master. Apart from science communication…I would like to serve humanity as an astronaut on a future Mars habitation mission to work on engineering solutions for a Martian habitat. …I aspire to establish Qatar’s space program and be the first Qatar-based astronaut. My calling is to serve humanity by conducting Bioastronautics research to help us understand Lunar and Martian habitats by living in those unfamiliar surroundings for an extended period of time. …I want to use my degree to illuminate paths that can be pursued for all those that hail from underrepresented minorities, to build a future where we are no longer underrepresented. …Just three women of Indian origin have earned their astronaut wings and there have been none from Qatar. …I only had these women to look up to and derive inspiration from, but I am going to ensure that the generation after me has plenty of people as role models; everybody deserves to pursue their passion without inhibition.”
Arisa Chue - Stanford, CA ($2,000 Recipient)
Arisa currently attends Stanford University majoring in Computer Science. Her academic interests are exploring the intersection of the abstract concepts of linguistics and the concrete subject of Natural Language Processing (NLP). She is currently researching how machines can better comprehend our jargon. Arisa completed software engineering internships at Google in 2021 and Meta in 2022. She currently serves as a Section Leader/Teaching Assistant for Stanford’s introductory structures and algorithms class. In high school, Arisa worked to balance gender in STEM classes as President of her school’s Women Interested in Science and Engineering (WISE) organization. She continues that mission as a member of Stanford’s Society of Women Engineers (SWE).
“My long-term career goals are to pursue research on self-learning machines that can better understand context, slang, emotion, and sarcasm—traits that aren’t so clear-cut like the computing language of ones and zeros. Human language is so complex and the challenge of creating code that understands it all excites me. …By sharing my passion and enthusiasm for STEM with others, I hope to inspire a new generation of female scientists and engineers.”