Seven UC Berkeley graduate students, out of 83 total recipients, have been selected for the 2023 Siebel Scholars award.
Campus awardees included Michael Lam, Gabriela Lomeli, Juan Eduardo Hurtado, Connor Tsuchida, Kaushik Shivakumar, Kelsey Gray DeFrates and Jordan Baker. The award recognizes students in graduate schools of bioengineering, business and computer science in universities across the world. On average, recipients rank among the top 5% of their class, many within the top 1%, according to a Siebel Scholars Foundation press release. Awardees receive $35,000 for their final year of studies.
“This scholarship will allow them to pursue new research directions to advance knowledge and innovation in their fields,” said Tsu-Jae King Liu, dean of the campus College of Engineering, in an announcement.
Lam, 2023 Siebel Scholar and master’s student in the campus department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, or EECS, said he hopes his research, which lies at the intersection of computer science and biology, can help find a cure for cancer.
2023 Siebel Scholar Lomeli, a doctoral student in the department of Bioengineering on campus, said the diagnosis of two of her family members with cancer is a motivating force for her research, which aims to develop engineering tools that help further the scientific understanding of the disease.
“Two of my mom’s sisters have been diagnosed with cancer. This is a heavy personal challenge that I’ve been using to motivate the work I do,” Lomeli said.
The research of Hurtado, 2023 Siebel Scholar and doctoral student in the campus department of Bioengineering, has significant implications for the development of pharmaceuticals.
The selection process involves a nomination from both the student’s faculty advisor and the dean of their college. One of Hurtado’s advisors David Schaffer, Hubbard Howe Jr. Distinguished Professor of Biochemical Engineering, said he was thrilled that Hurtado was selected for the award, noting his creativity and talent.
Other selected scholars emphasized the importance of representing their community with this award.
“Along with research excellence, they also want to see a propensity for leadership and value contributions toward diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said 2023 Siebel Scholar and doctoral student in the UC Berkeley-UCSF bioengineering program Tsuchida in an email.
Lomeli stated the importance of Latinx representation in higher education, something she has incorporated into her leadership on campus.
This year’s Siebel Scholars will be joining a community of the over 1,700 scholars, researchers and entrepreneurs who have previously received the award since its founding 22 years ago, the press release noted.
Hurtado said he was excited to join this community, noting the role the award will have in his motivation for his research moving forward.
“More than anything, the Siebel Scholars Fellowship makes me feel appreciated and inspired to finish my graduate work and approach new problems with the same vigor that earned me the award,” Hurtado said in an email.