12 | FALL 2015
realize they can have impact at many different levels,” she said.
Over five years, $100,000 funds a graduate award; $1.5 million
supports a graduate fellowship; and $5 million funds three
fellowships (see Biomolecular Engineering Gift, Page 3).
Johnny Fung ’81, M.Eng. ’82, and his wife, Juliana,
answered the need in 2012 by endowing the J & J Fung
Fund for doctoral candidates in Operations Research and
Information Engineering (ORIE) with a commitment of $250,000
plus challenge funds of $83,334 from the Tang Challenge,
sponsored by Martin Tang ’70. (The Fungs also endowed an
undergraduate scholarship fund, the Fung Family Scholarship,
in ORIE with $175,000, plus $40,000 in challenge match funds.)
Fung sponsored students in ORIE—his major—because it
touches on a wide range of other disciplines. “A lot of the things
that I learned at Cornell are the foundation of my success. So
I started to think about giving back to Cornell and the larger
community as well,” Fung said.
Kenneth Lyons, Jr. chose Cornell over Harvard in 2011, in
part thanks to a fellowship. Harvard offered a good financial
aid package, but required that Lyons TA his first year. In
contrast, Cornell offered the Morehouse College graduate a
Sloan Fellowship that covered three years of stipend, tuition
and health insurance totaling roughly $66,000 a year; and no TA
requirement for the first year.
That funding, plus a welcoming e-mail from advisor
Chekesha Liddell Watson, associate professor of materials
science and engineering, and a visit to the college’s top-notch
research facilities, made Cornell feel like home to Lyons. “Not
having to worry about money allowed me to really look at
programs that were the right fit for me,” he said.
When it comes to TAing, fellowships literally buy graduate
students time. Not having to TA means a graduate student can
spend 15 to 20 hours more per week in the lab and classroom.
That buffer allowed Sloan Fellow Jade Noble to successfully
transition from her undergrad major, chemical physics, to her
graduate area of chemical engineering. “That additional time
was a godsend for me,” said Noble.
Fellowships sponsored by corporations also offer the
chance to work on real-world problems. “Industry fellowships
come with a context,” says Lyden Archer, James A. Friend
Family Distinguished Professor of Engineering, and William
C. Hooey Director of the School of Chemical and Biomolecular
Engineering. A Corning Inc. grant is giving graduate student
Zhengyuan Tu the opportunity to not only work with novel
materials, but also do basic engineering research—designing
nanostructured membranes for energy storage—that is likely to
launch his career as an academic, Archer said.
Prior to the grant, theoretical research done in France
suggested that if membranes in batteries could be engineered
with regular nanoporous features, they could store three to 10
times the energy of batteries that we use today. “We wanted
to validate that prediction,” Archer said. So he and Tu created
an experimental design that used alumina membranes with
regular pores in the range of 10 nanometers to 200 nanometers
to create electrolytes with high ionic conductivity and
mechanical modulus. “These nanoporous membranes were
quite brittle and too expensive for the ultimate applications, but
for research we thought that was a good place to start,” Archer
said. The experiment worked, and they proved the prediction
In 2014 Corning gave them a grant for $50,000, which
New York State matched with an additional $50,000. With
the funding, Archer and Tu have been looking into lower-cost systems using fused silicon particles created by Corning
engineers. The particles give Archer and Tu materials that
Martin Tang speaks at the 2012 Frank H T Rhodes (FHTR)
Exemplary Alumni Service Award Dinner.
Graduate student Kenneth Lyons, Jr. chose to attend Cornell over
Harvard in part thanks to the Sloan Fellowship he received.
Zhengwan Tu, MS in materials science and engineering (MSE).