US names Rice MSNE student inaugural Quad Fellow

Sathvik Ajay Iyengar among 100 invited to multinational scholarship program.

Sathvik Ajay Iyengar headshot

Sathvik Ajay Iyengar, a third-year doctoral student in materials science and nanoengineering (MSNE) at Rice University, is among the inaugural recipients of the Quad Fellowship, a multinational scholarship program jointly administered by the governments of the United States, Australia, India and Japan.

“I received a phone call and was speechless to hear the White House was personally involved,” Iyengar said. “The Quad Fellowship selection process was arduous -- three rounds of selection, including academic and final interviews. Interviewing with people who served at the Pentagon and with science advisers was a humbling experience”

Iyengar is a member of the research group of Pulickel Ajayan, the Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor of Engineering and department chair of MSNE. His research interests focus on 2D materials, the physics and chemistry of their atom-thick arrangements and potential applications in new device architectures.

He intends to use the Fellowship to further his research in applying low-dimensional materials in areas including bioelectronics, neuromorphic computing and other emerging computing architectures.

Each Quad Fellow receives a one-time award of $50,000 which can be used for tuition, research, fees, books, room and board, and related academic expenses. All are eligible to apply for separate funding up to $25,000 to cover costs related to completing graduate-level studies.

As part of the fellowship, Iyengar will visit each of the Quad countries to discuss global problems and challenges, and will have networking, internship and employment opportunities within the Quad framework.

Schmidt Futures, a philanthropic organization based in New York City, operates the program, first announced in 2021, with a non-governmental task force of academic, foreign policy and private sector leaders from each Quad country. It sponsors 100 master’s and doctoral students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics to study in the United States.

To be eligible, a student must be at least 18 years old, a citizen or legal permanent resident of one of the Quad countries, hold a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in a STEM field and have demonstrated “superior academic achievement.”

“I have been studying Japanese for the past two and a half years through the Center for Language and Intercultural Communication at Rice, along with my Ph.D. From preparing presentations to recording lab intro videos in Japanese, Rice has been a wonderful platform for learning new skills. These skills for effectively communicating with diverse groups probably helped me secure the fellowship.”

Some 3,200 students applied for the Quad Fellowship.

“One of its most beautiful aspects is that it is never a one-man show,” Iyengar said. “Without the support of my advisers, family and friends, I would not be where I am today.”

The Quad Fellowship recipients were announced by the White House on Nov. 17.