Oct 29, 2008 — Four undergraduate scholars have won the first annual Henry Kressel Research Scholarship, established to enrich and perpetuate YU’s student research community. The scholarship was created by Dr. Henry Kressel, managing director of Warburg Pincus LLC and a Yeshiva College graduate, with the goal of expanding student-faculty research.
This year’s Kressel Resarch Scholars are chemistry major Samuel Blass and Jewish studies major Ari Lamm, both at Yeshiva College (YC); and physics major Malka Bromberg and political science major Ariella Zoltan, at Stern College for Women (SCW).
The four scholars were all identified by their faculty mentors as students whose academic commitment and intellectual rigor set them apart from the rest of the student body
Mr. Blass, who is researching how proteins crystallize, was one of only four students across the country selected to NASA’s Undergraduate Student Research Program at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. “Sam’s dedication to research is admirable; it is a privilege to work with him,” said Dr. Neer Asherie, assistant professor of physics and biology. “I expect his research as a Kressel Scholar will lead to exciting discoveries.”
Ms. Zoltan is researching religious accommodations for Muslims in France, Britain and Germany, and hopes to determine if religious discrimination serves as a primary cause of violence and protest in Western Europe.
Dr. Elizabeth Radziszewski, assistant professor of political science at Stern, offers nothing but praise for her pupil. “Ariella’s research will be an important contribution to our understanding of the onset of internal protests [by the European Muslim community] with significant implications for policy improvements.”
The scholarship funding provides a stipend of $7,500 for the academic year, with additional grant monies available for travel or research support. Academic mentors to the scholars also receive a $2,000 grant to offset costs of supervising the student’s research. Recipients are expected to spend at least one intensive summer and academic year on the project.
Ms. Bromberg, who is being mentored by Dr. Anatoly Frenkel, head of the physics department at Stern College, is researching the synthesis and characterization of functional carbon nanotubes. The Philadelphia native has been an aspiring physicist since the fifth grade when she read a book about Niels Bohr and quantum physics.
“Malka is a phenomenally motivated and independent young researcher,” said Dr. Frenkel. “She has made a positive impression on me with her determination to perform hands-on research.”
Mr. Lamm’s research will focus on the intellectual history of the Amoraim (ancient scholars) of the Babylonian Talmud. His mentor , Dr. Yaakov Elman, professor of Judaic studies at YU and an associate at Harvard University’s Center for Jewish Studies, believes his pupil has a bright future ahead. “Ari has the intellect and capabilities that a career in scholarship or the rabbinate requires,” said Dr. Elman. “He is deeply concerned with the problems of the world and will do his part to correct them.”
Mr. Blass praised the Kressel Scholarship for providing him with the opportunity to conduct research under the guidance of experienced researchers. “What makes YU unique is that it is a major research university with a distinctly Jewish flavor,” he said. “It has allowed me to develop close relationships with faculty that would have otherwise been impossible at a larger school.”
This close collaboration was one of Dr. Kressel’s main goals in setting up the scholarship. “The idea is to make it possible for students to work with talented faculty in advancing knowledge and to get a taste of the exciting world of research,” he said. “This program will lead to a richer intellectual environment at Yeshiva University and encourage more students to pursue a career in research through graduate studies.”
Following their research tenure, Kressel Scholars will lead student sessions publicizing their work to catalyze a larger intellectual discussion on the topic.