University of Pennsylvania

04/17/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/17/2024 07:17

Two Penn students awarded a 2024 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans

University of Pennsylvaniastudents Min Jae Kim and Zijian (William) Niu have each received a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans, a merit-based program that provides graduate school funding for immigrants and children of immigrants to the United States.

Kim is a graduate student pursuing an M.D./Ph.D. in neuroscience at the Perelman School of Medicine;and Niu is a fourth-year undergraduate majoring in biochemistry, biophysics, and physics as a Roy and Diana Vagelos Molecular Life Sciences Scholarin the College of Arts and Sciences.

They are among the 30 chosenas 2024 PD Soros Fellows from 2,323 applicants. Each Fellow receives as much as $90,000 for graduate studies.

Born in Korea, Kim's family immigrated to the U.S. when he was 14 and settled in Fairfax, Virginia. Kim's research focuses on the biological underpinnings of neurological disorders and applying mathematical and engineering principles to address them. At Penn, alongside multidisciplinary research and clinical faculty members at Penn Medicineand the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Kim is investigating novel methods to optimize clinical effects of neuromodulatory therapies across neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. Kim earned his bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering and neuroscience from Johns Hopkins Universityin 2022. He worked on numerous translational and clinical research projects across the neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry departments at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. At Johns Hopkins Hospital,Kim participated in research in identifying neural circuits involved in Parkinson's disease and epilepsy. From this work, he holds a patent as a lead inventor and was awarded theBarry Goldwater Scholarship. Kim had additional training at Harvard Medical Schoolbefore coming to Penn in 2023. He has published more than 18 papers in medical and scientific journals, and his research has been recognized by national and international medical organizations. Kim's goal is to become a neurosurgeon-scientist and to develop next-generation neuromodulatory therapeutics to repair neurophysiological and network dysfunctions in neurological disorders.

Niu was born in Kaifeng, China, but spent much of his early childhood in Shanghai. His family immigrated to the U.S. when he was 8, and he grew up in Winchester, Massachusetts. At Penn, Niu works with Arjun Raj in the Raj Lab for Systems Biologyto develop new computational methods for biomedical image analysis, including a deep learning algorithm for detecting diffraction-limited spots in fluorescence microscopy images obtained from spatial transcriptomics. For this work, he was awarded the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarshipin 2023. Niu is also a Dean's Scholar, a recipient of the Roy and Diana Vagelos Science Challenge Awardand the William E. Stephens Prize, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. In 2022, he co-founded the student-led Project Lucidto build awareness and confidence for effective science communication among Penn undergraduates. Niu has also been a teaching assistant and peer educator at Penn and a STEM mentor at underserved Philadelphia high schools. With the PD Soros Fellowship, Niu plans to pursue a Ph.D. in computational and systems biologyat the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Kim and Niu are Penn's 23rd and 24th Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow since the fellowship program was founded in 1998, according to the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships.