MIT's Michelle Teplensky, AIChE Student Leader, Wins Gates Scholarship

MIT senior Michelle Teplensky has won a Gates Cambridge Scholarship, which will allow her to pursue a PhD in chemical engineering and biotechnology at the University of Cambridge, UK, in fall 2014.

While at the University, Teplensky will focus her PhD work on designing drug-targeting systems. She is not only interested in curing disease but also in making treatments less arduous. She explains, "I plan to work under Professor Nigel Slater to address treating debilitating diseases with a more effective drug delivery by combining novel technologies."

A passion for chemical engineering

Her studies at MIT prepared her for this opportunity, as she explains in her own words:

"My passion for chemical engineering led me to drug delivery and nano-based medicines. While at the MIT, I had the opportunity to do research in laboratories spanning enzyme engineering, biotechnology, biomaterials, and nanotherapeutics. These experiences, combined with my internships in industry, have given me a holistic view of the field and sparked my curiosity to address it further."

Ironically, outstanding intellectual ability is taken for granted by the Gates Scholarship, because the program aims to build a global network of future leaders committed to improving the lives of others. The search committee digs deep into a student's background to find the skills and passions that have led to a deep engagement with the world. Here is the search criteria (note the ranking) listed on their website:

  • leadership potential
  • a commitment to improving the lives of others
  • a good fit between the applicant's qualifications and aspirations and the postgraduate program at Cambridge for which they are applying

A promo explains the program and its effects on the graduate students that travel to Cambridge:

Teplensky admirably fits the Gates profile. She has been an active member of the MIT community, where she is currently the president of MIT's chapter of AICHE and developed a symposium that brought together company representatives to network with students.

Kristala Jones Prather, an associate professor of chemical engineering, describes Teplensky in the MIT press release: "What sets Michelle apart from many of her peers is her leadership skills. She exudes a level of excitement and enthusiasm for science and engineering that is infectious and inspires others around her."

She has also served as a peer network engagement intern for MIT Hillel and advocate. Through the MIT International Science and Technology Initiative (MISTI), she also spent seven weeks in Germany, teaching math and science.

Teplensky, who is also well rounded, lists her outside interests as: field hockey, snowboarding, baking (anything that has chocolate), ice hockey, and learning languages.

Have you considered applying for a Gate Scholarship?

Image: Michelle Teplensky, MIT