Four MIT students selected as 2024 Knight-Hennessy Scholars

MIT senior Owen Dugan, graduate student Vittorio Colicci ’22, predoctoral research fellow Carine You ’22, and recent alumna Carina Letong Hong ’22 are the proud recipients of the prestigious Knight-Hennessy Scholarships. Established seven years ago, this highly competitive fellowship offers funding for up to three years of graduate studies in any discipline at Stanford University. To date, a total of 22 MIT students and alumni have been honored with the esteemed Knight-Hennessy Scholarships.

“We are thrilled for these exceptional scholars as they embark on their academic journey at Stanford with the generous Knight Hennessy Scholarship,” remarks Kim Benard, associate dean of distinguished fellowships in Career Advising and Professional Development. “Each of them has showcased remarkable dedication, intelligence, and leadership qualities, and this opportunity will enable them to further enhance their skills to effect meaningful change in the world.”

Vittorio Colicci ’22

Originally from Trumbull, Connecticut, Vittorio Colicci completed his undergraduate studies at MIT in May 2022, earning a degree in aerospace engineering and physics. He is set to graduate with a master’s degree in planetary sciences this spring. At Stanford, Colicci plans to pursue a doctoral degree in earth and planetary sciences at the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability. His research interests focus on exploring the evolution of surface processes on Earth and Mars over time in parallel with changes in habitability. Colicci has been extensively involved in spacecraft engineering projects, including the development of a monodisperse silica ceramic for electrospray thrusters and the fabrication of high-energy diffraction gratings for space telescopes. During his tenure as a Presidential Graduate Fellow at MIT, he conducted research on the influence of root geometry on soil cohesion for early terrestrial plants utilizing 3D-printed reconstructions. Beyond his academic pursuits, Colicci has held roles as co-director of TEDxMIT and propulsion lead for the MIT Rocket Team. He is deeply passionate about STEM education and outreach, having taught educational workshops in Zambia and India.

Owen Dugan

Owen Dugan hails from Sleepy Hollow, New York, and is currently a senior majoring in physics at MIT. As a recipient of the Knight-Hennessy Scholarship, he will be pursuing a Ph.D. in computer science at the Stanford School of Engineering. Dugan aims to integrate artificial intelligence and physics, creating AI technologies that drive advancements in physics and leveraging physics methodologies to design more resilient and efficient AI systems. He has collaborated with researchers from prestigious institutions such as Harvard University, the University of Chicago, and DeepMind, presenting his research as the lead author at eminent conferences such as the International Conference on Machine Learning, the MIT Mechanistic Interpretability Conference, and the American Physical Society March Meeting. Among his accolades, Dugan has been recognized as a Hertz Finalist, a U.S. Presidential Scholar, an MIT Outstanding Undergraduate Research Awardee, a Research Science Institute Scholar, and a Neo Scholar. Additionally, he co-founded VeriLens, a well-funded startup dedicated to ensuring trustworthiness on the internet through cryptographic validation of digital media.

Carina Letong Hong ’22

Hailing from Canton, China, Carina Letong Hong is currently pursuing a JD/PhD in mathematics at Stanford. As a first-generation college student, Hong graduated from MIT in May 2022 with dual majors in mathematics and physics and was honored with induction into Sigma Pi Sigma, the physics honor society. Subsequently, she earned a master’s degree in neuroscience with distinctions for her dissertation from the University of Oxford, where she conducted research on artificial intelligence and machine learning at Sainsbury Wellcome Center’s Gatsby Unit. At Stanford Law School, Hong is actively involved in providing legal assistance to low-income workers and advocating for reform in law enforcement through economic analysis. She has authored numerous papers published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals, served as an expert reviewer for journals and conferences, and delivered speeches at conferences in the United States, Germany, France, the U.K., and China. Hong has been the recipient of esteemed awards including the AMS-MAA-SIAM Morgan Prize for Outstanding Research, the AWM Alice T. Schafer Prize for Mathematical Excellence presented annually to an undergraduate woman in the U.S., the Maryam Mirzakhani Fellowship, and a Rhodes Scholarship.

Carine You ’22

Hailing from San Diego, California, Carine You completed her undergraduate studies at MIT in May 2022, earning bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and computer science as well as mathematics. Following her graduation, You served as a predoctoral research assistant working closely with Professor Amy Finkelstein at the MIT Department of Economics, focusing on the quality of Medicare nursing home care and the implementation of medical screening technologies. She is set to commence her Ph.D. studies in economic analysis and policy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business this fall, with a focus on addressing critical environmental and healthcare market issues, emphasizing economic efficiency and equity. You has a diverse background, having previously developed audio signal processing algorithms at Bose, refined mechanistic models to enhance respiratory monitoring at the MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics, and analyzed corruption in developmental projects in India during her tenure at the World Bank. Through her involvement with Middle East Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow, she taught computer science to Israeli and Palestinian students in Jerusalem and spearheaded an online pilot program expansion for the organization. At MIT, she was recognized as a Burchard Scholar.

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