Two chosen as Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellows
Rice University graduate student Eric Gomez and Rice alumna Angie Bautista-Chavez ’13 have been awarded prestigious Ford Foundation 2013 Predoctoral Fellowships.
Gomez, a third-year student in bioengineering, and Bautista-Chavez, a first-year student at Harvard University, were among 60 recipients chosen to receive the highly competitive fellowships, which are administered by the National Research Council and designed to increase the diversity of the nation’s college and university faculties.
Ford Foundation fellows are chosen based upon a combination of superior academic achievement, commitment to a career in teaching and research at the college or university level, promise of future achievement as scholars and teachers and preparation for using diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.
Gomez, who grew up in McAllen, Texas, began his graduate studies at Rice in 2011 after earning his bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His research lies at the intersection of virus nanotechnology and tissue engineering, a branch of bioengineering dedicated to creating transplantable tissues. Gomez, who works in the laboratory of Assistant Professor Junghae Suh, plans to use nonpathogenic viral nanoparticles as genetic cues that can guide the differentiation of cells into specific types of tissue.
“To me, the Ford Fellowship serves as an example that underrepresented populations can find success in science and engineering fields,” Gomez said. “I hope to use this recognition to motivate more students to pursue engineering disciplines.”
Bautista-Chavez, a native of Lockhart, Texas, earned dual degrees in political science and policy studies in May and plans to specialize in American politics and social policy at Harvard. She also won a 2013 Minority Fellowship from the American Political Science Association.
Bautista-Chavez credited her success at Rice to programs like the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship and the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute (RBSI), as well as to faculty mentors like Melissa Marschall, Richard Stoll, Brent Houchens, Roland Smith and Caroline Quenemoen.
“By choosing to invest their time and resources, Rice faculty, Mellon Mays, RBSI, the Ford Foundation and the APSA have enabled me to pursue my goal of attending graduate school,” Bautista-Chavez said. “I am extremely grateful for their support, especially the faculty mentors who played an instrumental role in developing my passion for and knowledge of political science and education research.”