Gabby Tender, a Caltech senior majoring in chemistry, is among the 10 students nationwide selected this year to receive a fellowship from the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation.
The 10 fellows were selected from a pool of nearly 700 applicants. As recipients of a Hertz Fellowship, they will each receive five years of financial support to pursue a PhD and conduct research of their choice in science, math, or engineering.
"The 2018 fellowship awardees are an outstanding group of students with diverse talents and an extraordinary drive to reach new heights in scientific research and technological innovation," said Robbee Kosak, president of the foundation, in a written statement.
At Caltech, Tender has worked in the lab of Dennis A. Dougherty, the George Grant Hoag Professor of Chemistry and director of the Beckman Institute, researching the interaction of small molecules with the ion channels of neurons. Research in this area could lead to treatments for nicotine addiction and Alzheimer's disease, Tender says. She has also conducted research at the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, and the University of Cambridge. In 2017, she received the Arie J. Haagen-Smit Memorial Award, which is given to biology and chemistry students who have made notable contributions to Caltech. She's also been awarded a 2018 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.
"I am extremely grateful for these global scientific research opportunities," she says. "Having such incredible research mentors, like Professor Dougherty, has kept my passion for science alive and furthered my desire to one day become a professor."
She's also held several leadership roles on campus, including the 2017 Dabney House president, student representative on the Academics and Research Committee as well as the Board of Control, which investigates suspected Honor Code violations; and a teaching assistant for chemistry courses. In addition, she is a recipient of a 2018 NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.
Tender will attend grad school at Stanford University where she plans to study the chemical biology of human health, especially as it relates to autoimmune disorders like celiac disease.
"Being awarded this fellowship allows me to pursue research with greater flexibility and fewer restrictions than I would otherwise face," Tender says. "It provides me with greater opportunities to pursue a diverse range of interesting topics, learn a variety of techniques, and fully investigate research questions of my choosing."
The Hertz Foundation is the legacy of John Hertz, a Hungarian immigrant who became an entrepreneur in the automotive industry. The foundation has been supporting budding scientists and engineers for 60 years.
For more information, visit www.hertzfoundation.org.