Scholar scoops prestigious science innovation fellowship

  • May 23, 2023
Scholar scoops prestigious science innovation fellowship

Freja Ekman is named one of 15 new Hertz fellows

The innovation, creativity, deep and connected knowledge, grit and determination, and ambition to make an impact displayed by this cohort stand out and promise great things for the years to come.

Philip Welkhoff

Freja Ekman has been named one of the 2023 class of Hertz Fellows as the prestigious fellowship celebrates its 60th year.

The 15 fellowships in applied science, engineering and mathematics are awarded by Fannie and John Hertz Foundation, a non-profit organisation for innovators in science and technology.

Winners will have their graduate studies funded for five years. Philip Welkhoff, who led the rigorous selection process and is also director of the malaria programme at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, said: “The innovation, creativity, deep and connected knowledge, grit and determination, and ambition to make an impact displayed by this cohort stand out and promise great things for the years to come.”

The fellowship was set up in 1963 and more than 1,200 Hertz Fellows have been awarded since then, including two Nobel laureates.

Freja [2018], who did her master’s at the University of Cambridge in translational biomedical research, is currently pursuing her MD-PhD at Stanford University, where she is working to develop CRISPR/Cas9-based gene therapies to target hematopoietic diseases and create new cancer immunotherapies.

After completing her master’s, Freja worked as a computational chemist for D.E. Shaw Research, where she used simulations to better understand the dynamic movement of CRISPR/Cas9 rather than the static image seen in protein X-ray structures.

Born in Germany, she moved to Southern California when she was in elementary school. In addition to her research interests, she advocates for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and works on local community efforts focused on deinstitutionalisation.

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