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Two MIT seniors named 2020 Marshall Scholars

Talya Klinger and Steven Truong will begin graduate studies in the UK next fall.

Talya Klinger and Steven Truong

Image: Ian MacLellan
Talya Klinger and Steven Truong Image: Ian MacLellan

Talya Klinger and Steven Truong are MIT’s newest Marshall Scholars. The students are recipients of the prestigious British government-funded fellowship, which provides outstanding young American scholars the opportunity to pursue two years of graduate study in any subject at any academic institution in the United Kingdom.

The Marshall Scholarship program annually receives over 1,000 applications from top students representing higher education institutions across the United States. Around 40 scholars are selected each year.

MIT’s Marshall applicants were advised and supported by the distinguished fellowships team, led by Assistant Dean Kim Benard in Career Advising and Professional Development. They were also mentored by the MIT Presidential Committee on Distinguished Fellowships, co-chaired by professors Will Broadhead and Tamar Schapiro.

“MIT’s Marshall Scholarship applicants embody the academic excellence, personal integrity, and future-minded optimism that characterize MIT undergraduates at their best,” Broadhead says. “We on the Distinguished Fellowships Committee have been inspired by all of them and are especially pleased to congratulate Talya and Steven as they take their richly deserved places in this year’s class of Marshall Scholars.”

Talya Klinger

Hailing from Novato, California, Klinger is a senior majoring in physics with a minor in mathematics. As a Marshall Scholar, she will pursue a MASt in mathematics, followed by an MPhil in physics, at Cambridge University. After completing her two-year Marshall program, she plans to return to the U.S. for a PhD in physics. She hopes to have a career leading research on gravitational waves either as a professor or national lab scientist.

Klinger has conducted physics research with the Hughes group at the MIT Kavli Institute, the Thaler group at the MIT Center for Theoretical Physics, and the MIT Photon Scattering Lab. She has also conducted research abroad at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Ontario, Canada, and the Weizmann Institute of Science Astroparticle Physics Lab in Israel.

Deeply committed to social justice, Klinger helped found the MIT Prison Education Initiative, a student group that advocates for educational opportunities for local prison inmates. Klinger is also a dedicated teacher and mentor. She advises women considering majoring in physics and incoming first year students, and she has taught classes to middle and high school students through the MIT Educational Studies Program. She is vice president of the Society of Physics Students. A talented visual artist, Klinger has been an integral part of the MIT Shakespeare Ensemble, working as a costume and special effects designer. She has won writing awards for her essays and in high school was a nationally ranked classics scholar.

Steven Truong

Steven Truong, from Blaine, Minnesota, will graduate this spring with a double major in biological engineering and creative writing. At Imperial College London, he will read for an MS degree in biostatistics, and after one year will read for an MS degree in integrated immunology at Oxford University. Upon returning to the U.S., Truong will pursue an MD/PhD degree with the goal of working in both the research and clinical aspects of diabetes treatment. Many of his own family members have contended with the disease, including his father, Buu Truong, who passed away from diabetes complications during Truong’s junior year of college.

The son of Vietnamese refugees, Truong spent two years researching diabetes therapies in the laboratories of professors Daniel Anderson and Robert Langer in the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. He subsequently pursued diabetes research in the laboratory of Professor Douglas Lauffenburger in the Department of Biological Engineering and received a National Science Foundation summer grant to conduct research at the University of California at San Francisco Diabetes Research Center. Truong is also co-principal investigator for a diabetes research project that he founded in Vietnam the summer after his first year at MIT. Truong was a Goldwater Scholar and has won awards for his science fiction and other writing.

Truong served as co-president of the Biological Engineering Undergrad Board and as opinion editor for the MIT student newspaper The Tech. He has volunteered with the Joslin Diabetes Center, MIT MedLinks, and the QuestBridge Scholars Network. In addition, Truong performs magic shows for MIT ClubChem and is a collegiate powerlifter.

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