Four from MIT named 2024 Knight-Hennessy Scholars

Julia Mongo | Office of Distinguished Fellowships
Published by MIT News on May 13, 2024

MIT senior Owen Dugan, graduate student Vittorio Colicci ’22, predoctoral research fellow Carine You ’22, and recent alumna Carina Letong Hong ’22 are recipients of this year’s Knight-Hennessy Scholarships. The competitive fellowship, now in its seventh year, funds up to three years of graduate studies in any field at Stanford University. To date, 22 MIT students and alumni have been awarded Knight-Hennessy Scholarships.

“We are excited for these students to continue their education at Stanford with the generous support of the Knight Hennessy Scholarship,” says Kim Benard, associate dean of distinguished fellowships in Career Advising and Professional Development. “They have all demonstrated extraordinary dedication, intellect, and leadership, and this opportunity will allow them to further hone their skills to make real-world change.”

Vittorio Colicci ’22

Vittorio Colicci, from Trumbull, Connecticut, graduated from MIT in May 2022 with a BS in aerospace engineering and physics. He will receive his master’s degree in planetary sciences this spring. At Stanford, Colicci will pursue a PhD in earth and planetary sciences at the Stanford Doerr School of Sustainability. He hopes to investigate how surface processes on Earth and Mars have evolved through time alongside changes in habitability. Colicci has worked largely on spacecraft engineering projects, developing a monodisperse silica ceramic for electrospray thrusters and fabricating high-energy diffraction gratings for space telescopes. As a Presidential Graduate Fellow at MIT, he examined the influence of root geometry on soil cohesion for early terrestrial plants using 3D-printed reconstructions. Outside of research, Colicci served as co-director of TEDxMIT and propulsion lead for the MIT Rocket Team. He is also passionate about STEM engagement and outreach, having taught educational workshops in Zambia and India.

Owen Dugan

Owen Dugan, from Sleepy Hollow, New York, is a senior majoring in physics. As a Knight-Hennessy Scholar, he will pursue a PhD in computer science at the Stanford School of Engineering. Dugan aspires to combine artificial intelligence and physics, developing AI that enables breakthroughs in physics and using physics techniques to design more capable and safe AI systems. He has collaborated with researchers from Harvard University, the University of Chicago, and DeepMind, and has presented his first-author research at venues including the International Conference on Machine Learning, the MIT Mechanistic Interpretability Conference, and the American Physical Society March Meeting. Among other awards, Dugan is a Hertz Finalist, a U.S. Presidential Scholar, an MIT Outstanding Undergraduate Research Awardee, a Research Science Institute Scholar, and a Neo Scholar. He is also a co-founder of VeriLens, a funded startup enabling trust on the internet by cryptographically verifying digital media.

Carina Letong Hong ’22

Carina Letong Hong, from Canton, China, is currently pursuing a JD/PhD in mathematics at Stanford. A first-generation college student, Hong graduated from MIT in May 2022 with a double major in mathematics and physics and was inducted into Sigma Pi Sigma, the physics honor society. She then earned a neuroscience master’s degree with dissertation distinctions from the University of Oxford, where she conducted artificial intelligence and machine learning research at Sainsbury Wellcome Center’s Gatsby Unit. At Stanford Law School, Hong provides legal aid to low-income workers and uses economic analysis to push for law enforcement reform. She has published numerous papers in peer-reviewed journals, served as an expert referee for journals and conferences, and spoken at summits in the United States, Germany, France, the U.K., and China. She was the recipient of the AMS-MAA-SIAM Morgan Prize for Outstanding Research, the highest honor for an undergraduate in mathematics in North America; the AWM Alice T. Schafer Prize for Mathematical Excellence, given annually to an undergraduate woman in the United States; the Maryam Mirzakhani Fellowship; and a Rhodes Scholarship.

Carine You ’22

Carine You, from San Diego, California, graduated from MIT in May 2022 with bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering and computer science and in mathematics. Since graduating, You has worked as a predoctoral research assistant with Professor Amy Finkelstein in the MIT Department of Economics, where she has studied the quality of Medicare nursing home care and the targeting of medical screening technologies. This fall, You will embark on a PhD in economic analysis and policy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. She wishes to address pressing issues in environmental and health-care markets, with a particular focus on economic efficiency and equity. You previously developed audio signal processing algorithms at Bose, refined mechanistic models to inform respiratory monitoring at the MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics, and analyzed corruption in developmental projects in India at the World Bank. Through Middle East Entrepreneurs of Tomorrow, she taught computer science to Israeli and Palestinian students in Jerusalem and spearheaded an online pilot expansion for the organization. At MIT, she was named a Burchard Scholar.

By Julia Mongo
Julia Mongo Staff Writer and Advisor