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Two PhD students from Hopkins BME named Siebel Scholars

September 29, 2020

At left: Sarah Somers; At right: Yuan Rui. Photo credit: Jim Burger for Johns Hopkins University

Five Johns Hopkins PhD students, including two studying biomedical engineering, have been named Siebel Scholars for 2021, an award that recognizes them as being among the world’s top graduate students in their field. Selected for their outstanding academic performance and demonstrated leadership, Siebel Scholars receive a financial award of $35,000 to support their final year of studies.

Since its founding in 2000, the Siebel Scholarship has been awarded to 60 Johns Hopkins graduate students. This year’s awardees from Johns Hopkins are among 92 winners from leading universities.

“These are tremendously accomplished engineering students,” says Ed Schlesinger, dean of the Whiting School of Engineering. “Their academic and research achievements and the promise they demonstrate are exceptional, and it’s wonderful to see them honored in this way.”

The Siebel Scholarship winners from Johns Hopkins BME are:

Yuan Rui

As a PhD candidate in the Department of Biomedical Engineering under adviser Jordan GreenYuan Rui devotes her studies to designing biomaterials for the delivery of protein and nucleic acid drugs to treat diseases such as cancer and genetic disorders. She conducts research in the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology and the Translational Tissue Engineering Center. Working with her peers and mentees (who include six undergraduates and two high school students), she has published 18 peer-reviewed articles, including 10 as first or co-first author. As an instructor, she has led a Hopkins Engineering Applications and Research Tutorials course, a winter intersession course, and most recently a high school course online this past summer. Outside the lab, Yuan has served as co-chair of the graduate student group BME EDGE, which stands for Extramural Development in Graduate Education and connects current BME PhD students with non-academic career tracks. She has also served as the president of the Translational Tissue Engineering Center Student Council, organizing alumni career talks, monthly journal club meetings, and an international potluck.

Sarah Somers

Throughout Sarah Somers’ PhD work in the lab of Warren Grayson in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, she has applied her scientific curiosity to engineering skeletal muscle tissue grafts using biophysical cues, leading to 10 co-authored publications and several conference presentations. However, her time away from the bench inciting this same scientific curiosity in others has been equally fulfilling. Through leadership in on-campus organizations, such as the Translational Tissue Engineering Center Student Council and the Biomedical Engineering PhD Council, Somers has organized academic, social, and career events for her peers. Additionally, she has worked to inspire the next generation of scientists through mentorship and education. She has co-created an intersession course to train undergraduates on key image analysis tools for research and mentored 15 graduate, undergraduate, and high school students in the lab, including those from the Diversity and Academic Advancement Summer Institute. These experiences have re-doubled Somers’ enthusiasm to explore scientific questions and expose others to the impactful field of bioengineering.

Read more about all the JHU Siebel Scholars on the Hub.