Masterclass Series

The Summer STEM Institute (SSI) hosts a Masterclass series to connect students to accomplished young adults across the world who share their experiences and advice for high school students on a variety of different topics. Students will have the opportunity to learn about entrepreneurship from Forbes 30 Under 30 inductees, high school science fairs from International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) grand prize winners, and how to write application essays from students who have been admitted to top fellowships and universities.

Students will learn from 30 speakers in the following 7 verticals:

• Science Research
• Business and Entrepreneurship
• College Admissions
• Personal Development
• Humanities and Social Sciences
• Engineering and Technology
• Biology and Healthcare

At the end of each talk, there is a Q&A session where students have the opportunity to ask speakers questions they may have. There is also an optional assignment deliverable accompanying each talk, which is designed as a practice exercise for students to gain hands-on experience with a skill or technique the talk focused on. For each Masterclass, top submissions of the deliverable will be recognized, and those students will be invited to have a virtual dinner with the speaker.

Please see a list of the 2021 Masterclasses below. The following list is subject to minor changes due to uncertainty in summer plans of some speakers due to COVID-19.

Science Research

Tips for Science Fair: Lessons from My High School Research Journey

Amol Punjabi, Harvard University

Amol is a student at Harvard University studying mathematics. In high school, Amol won 1st Place at the Intel Science Talent Search (STS) and received a $150,000 scholarship for his research he began while at the Research Science Institute (RSI). Before RSI, Amol was published as first author in the journal ACS Nano for his nanotechnology research, and he won Best in Category in Biochemistry at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). Amol also holds a patent on up-converting nanoparticles. Amol’s Masterclass will share his experiences conducting research in high school and his tips for excelling in science fairs. 

Commercializing Your Research and Founding a Company

Erin Smith, Stanford University

Erin is an undergraduate studying computer science at Stanford University and the founder of FacePrint, an AI startup building tools to detect and monitor Parkinson’s disease. Erin was named a Thiel Fellow and was awarded a $100,000 grant to build her startup. She was also named a Forbes 30 Under 30 Recipient for her research, and FacePrint was named the 2019 Wired Health Startup of the Year. Erin began her research studying Parkinson’s disease back when she was in high school and was awarded Best in Category in Behavioral and Social Sciences at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). Erin’s Masterclass will discuss the commercialization process for research projects and how she founded a healthcare company at a young age.

Creating Opportunities in Inner City, Underfunded High Schools

Harshal Agrawal, Stanford University

Harshal is an undergraduate at Stanford University studying computer science and management science and engineering. In high school, Harshal was named a Cameron Impact Scholar, a Gates Scholar, and a Research Science Institute (RSI) Scholar. For his research with harmful algae blooms, Harshal has been acknowledged at the local, state, and federal level. He has received the EPA Patrick H. Hurd Award for Sustainability at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). He is passionate about environmental science and public policy and has developed mobile applications at the MIT Institute for Data, Science, and Socety. Harshal’s Masterclass will discuss his research journey in an inner city, underfunded high school and how to create opportunities in underresourced areas. 

Why Conduct High School Research and Choosing Between Topics

Dhruvik Parikh, Stanford University

Dhruvik is an undergraduate at Stanford University studying economics and computer science. In high school, Dhruvik won the Young Scientist Award (top 3 overall; $50,000 scholarship) at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). He also attended the Research Science Institute (RSI), placed second nationally at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposum (JSHS), and was named a Forbes 30 Under 30 Recipient in Energy for his high school research. Dhruvik’s Masterclass will focus on the lessons he has learned through his science fair career, and how they prepared him to win ISEF in his senior year. He will also be sharing his advice on how to choose a topic to research. 

Business and Entrepreneurship

Launching a Video Game: Design, Development, and Marketing

Jenny Xu, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Jenny is a Forbes 30 Under 30 recipient, a long distance runner, an artist, a programmer, a gamer, a farmer, and the CEO of Talofa Games. She solo develops horror comedy mobile games for her indie game company, JCSoft Inc. After graduating from MIT with a computer science degree, she has worked in the intersection of AR and fitness to explore how gaming motivates healthy habits. In her 10 years in the gaming industry, she has created 130+ games for web and mobile with 10 shipped titles on the mobile app stores and over 9.2 million downloads. Jenny's Masterclass will discuss how high school students can get started with developing video games.

Looking Forward: Career Paths in STEM and Business

Julius Vering, UC Berkeley (M.E.T. Program)

From Switzerland, Julius is an undergraduate pursuing a dual-degree in engineering and business through UC Berkeley’s Management, Entrepreneurship, and Technology (M.E.T.) program. In high school, Julius studied physics and was a 2-time Swiss National Physics Olympiad Gold Medalist and a Swiss Physical Society Scholar. Julius was also a top 10 presenter at the Research Science Institute (RSI) for his research in the quantum computing field. At Berkeley, Julius is a Project Manager for Berkeley Consulting. Julius’s Masterclass will discuss potential career paths for students interested in STEM and business and how students can begin preparing for future careers in these fields. 

Effective Outreach: Finding Mentors and Partners

Amy Jin, Harvard University

Amy is an undergraduate at Harvard University studying computer science. In high school, Amy conducted research using artificial intelligence to analyze surgical skill in videos. For her work, Amy was awarded the Davidson Fellowship ($50,000 scholarship; top 4 nationally), was a Scholar in the Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS), and was a Semifinalist in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology. Amy presented her research in the IEEE Winter Conference on Applications of Computer Vision (WACV) and won Best Paper in the Machine Learning for Health Workshop in the Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS). Amy’s Masterclass will discuss her experiences and advice on reaching out to mentors and partners.

Networking Strategies in High School and Beyond

Adam Pahlavan, Stanford University

Adam graduated from Stanford University in 2.5 years with a degree in computer science. In high school, Adam was a USA Physics Olympiad (USAPhO) Semifinalist, a Research Science Institute (RSI) Scholar, a Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS) Scholar, a Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology Semifinalist, and a USA Mathematical Olympiad (USAMO) Qualifier. At Stanford, Adam placed 1st in both Stanford’s Treehacks Hackathon (Healthcare Category) and Stanford’s BASES Social Impact Case Competition. Adam has been awarded grants from the Stanford School of Medicine Biodesign Program and George Mason University’s Mercatus Center. Adam’s Masterclass will discuss everything networking and how students can compound networking benefits from a young age.

College Admissions

Designing Your High School Career

Katherine Ho, Stanford University

Katherine is an undergraduate at Stanford University studying english and computer science. In high school, she won 1st Place in the Columbia University Model Entrepreneurship Competition and was a 2x Gold Key Winner in the Scholastic Writing Competition. In addition, Katherine was a Platinum Division Finalist in the USA Computing Olympiad (USACO). Katherine is the author of “My Journey to Stanford”, a book sharing stories, insights, and the application that helped her gain admission to various elite universities. Katherine’s Masterclass will discuss her experiences with the college admissions process and her advice for students who are currently planning their high school careers.

How to Apply to Anything

Franklyn Wang, Harvard University

Franklyn is an undergraduate at Harvard University. In high school, Franklyn was named a Davidson Fellow (top 12 nationally; $25,000 scholarship), a Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS) Finalist (top 40 nationally; $25,000 scholarship), and the Siemens 2nd Place National Winner ($50,000 scholarship).  In addition, Franklyn was top 5 nationally in the USA Computing Olympiad (USACO), top 20 nationally in the USA Math Olympiad (USAMO), and top 50 nationally in the USA Physics Olympiad (USAPhO). In college, he was named a Goldwater Scholar, the most prestigious fellowship in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering. Franklyn’s Masterclass will share his strategies for competing in competitions and applying to universities and scholarships. 

Structuring College Applications and Crafting a College Essay Narrative

Joshua Chiang, Harvard University

Joshua is an undergraduate at Harvard University studying social studies and economics. He is a social media personality with over 8 million likes and 130k+ followers. Joshua is the current director of multimedia at the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR) and spent his past summer as a growth intern at Candor. Additionally, Joshua has consulting experience from his time as an associate at Harvard Undergraduate Consulting on Business and the Environment (CBE), Harvard's premier strategy consulting group. In high school, Joshua was selected to be one of twelve cellists to participate in the 2017 and 2018 National Youth Orchestra of the USA. Joshua’s Masterclass will discuss how students can structure their college applications and find their college essay narrative.

Proactive Planning and Preparing for Scholarship Applications

Anne Lee, Stanford University

Anne is an undergraduate at Stanford University studying computer science. In high school, Anne was admitted to Harvard with a likely letter (top ~100 academic applicants), Stanford, and MIT. She was one of 15 students nation-wide to be awarded the Cameron Impact Scholarship, a full-tuition scholarship to attend any university. She also received the AXA Scholarship ($10,000), the Elks Most Valuable Student Scholarship ($6,000), the National Merit Scholarship ($2,500), the BECU Community Scholarship ($5,000), the Audubon Society Scholarship ($1,000), and the Coca-Cola Regional Scholarship ($500). Anne’s Masterclass will focus on how students can prepare for scholarship applications and stand out amongst a competitive pool of applicants. 

Preparing for Olympiads: Spotlight on the International Linguistics Olympiad

Joey Feffer, Harvard University

Joey is an undergraduate at Harvard University studying mathematics. In high school, Joey was top 8 in the US National Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO), a Silver Medalist at the International Linguistics Olympiad, a United States Presidential Scholar, and a Research Science Institute (RSI) Scholar. At Harvard, Joey has been interested in using mathematics and quantitative methods to drive social change, which has led him to numerous different areas of business and economics. He has been a case team leader at Harvard Undergraduate Consulting on Business and the Environment and an investment associate intern at Bridgewater Associates. Joey’s Masterclass will discuss preparation tips for various science olympiads, with a spotlight on the International Linguistics Olympiad.

Personal Development

Standing Out in High School and Beyond

Kasha Akrami, Stanford University

Kasha is an undergraduate at Stanford University studying management science and engineering. In high school, Kasha founded the Sierra Project Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving the health of youth through the use of graphic novels and the arts. He also founded the GovTech Network, a nonprofit that draws on the expertise of university students to aid societal progress in technology and government. Kasha is passionate about creating and managing organizations that connect like-minded individuals together to drive disruptive change. Kasha has previously interned with Goldman Sachs, Draper Associates, and the US House of Representatives. Kasha's Masterclass will discuss how to combine hard and soft skills to stand out in high school and beyond.

Studying Effectively: From SATs, APs, to the Biology Olympiad

Allen Huang, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Allen is an undergraduate student at MIT studying computer science and engineering. In high school, Allen was an International Biology Olympiad (IBO) USA Team Member (top 4 nationally), a US National Chemistry Olympiad (USNCO) Finalist (top 20 nationally), and a 6x American Invitational Mathematics Exam (AIME) Qualifier. Allen has conducted bioinformatics research at both the Boston University Liu Lab and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, was a developer at the MIT Infolab Group, and was a research intern at the US Air Force. Allen has also published research in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta. Allen’s Masterclass will focus on his strategies for studying effectively for different styles of exams, from the biology olympiad to the SATs.

Self-Awareness, Values, and Existential Crises

Sahaj Garg, Stanford University

Sahaj is an undergraduate at Stanford studying computer science. In high school, Sahaj was a 3x USA Mathematics Olympiad (USAMO) Qualifier, a USA Physics Olympiad (USAPhO) Silver Medalist, and a top 5 Presenter at the Research Science Institute (RSI) for his research on how we perceive relationships in animations. Sahaj has conducted machine learning research at both Stanford and Google Research and has been published in the Conference on Uncertainty in Artificial Intelligence (UAI). In addition, Sahaj won the $100,000 Grand Prize at the World Crypto Economic Forum Hackathon. Sahaj’s Masterclass will discuss defining your own value system and how to make decisions about how to spend time in high school, college, and beyond. 

Persistence and Overcoming Failure

Michael Ren, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Michael is an undergraduate at MIT studying mathematics and computer science. In high school, Michael was a member of the USA Math Team (top 6 nationally). The USA Math Team was the 1st place team at the 2018 International Math Olympiad (IMO), where Michael was a gold medalist (top 1/12th of IMO contestants). Michael was a 2x USA Math Olympiad winner (USAMO; top 12 nationally) and was the 1st place individual in 2018. Michael also studied quasiinvariant polynomials and was recognized as a Regeneron STS Finalist (STS; top 40 nationally) for his research. Michael’s Masterclass will discuss his experiences with math olympiads and the lessons he learned from competing.

Leveraging Yourself: Practical Time Management

Benjamin Spector, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Benjamin is an undergraduate at MIT studying computer science and mathematics. In high school, Benjamin was an ACM/CSTA Cutler-Bell Prize Winner, a national FIRST Robotics Dean’s List Winner, and an American Computer Science League (ACSL) national team member. He has interned at Google Research, QuantCo, Cornell Tech, and Two Sigma investments. Benjamin has also published AI research at conferences including Neural Information Processing Systems (NeurIPS) and has given talks at conferences including Google NEXT. Currently, Benjamin is a co-founder of Prod, an entrepreneurial reading group amongst Harvard and MIT students. Benjamin’s Masterclass will focus on organization, time management, and effectively making hard decisions. 

Humanities and Social Sciences

Mastering Communication, Persuasion, and Storytelling

Sabrina Wong, Cornell University

Sabrina is an undergraduate at Cornell University studying english and business. On campus, Sabrina is a contributor to the Business Section of the Cornell Daily Sun, a weekly columnist for the Cornell Business Review, and a part of a Cornell Law School Practicum. She is also a member of the Phi Gamma Nu business fraternity and the president of Apex Capital, a student-run finance organization. Previously, Sabrina worked as a Residential Programs Advisor at Brown University for the Summer@Brown Pre-College program, where she mentored high achieving high school students. Sabrina’s Masterclass will focus on communication, persuasion, and storytelling skills that can be applied to activities from writing college essays to sending cold emails.

Making Informed and Impactful Decisions From the Lens of Economics

Arjun Ramani, Stanford University

Arjun is an undergraduate student at Stanford University studying economics and mathematics. In high school, Arjun won 3rd Place in the Regeneron Science Talent Search ($150,000 scholarship), was awarded the Davidson Fellowship ($25,000 scholarship), and was a USA Mathematics Olympiad (USAMO) Qualifier. Arjun has published research papers at the International Conference on Data Mining and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. At Stanford, Arjun founded the Stanford Open Data Project and leads the data journalism team at The Stanford Daily newspaper. He conducts economics research on how policy can drive innovation in sectors and regions of the US that have historically suffered from low productivity growth. Arjun’s Masterclass will discuss how students can use economics and policy to make more informed decisions.

Building Art and Design Portfolios

Sarah Kim, Stanford University

Sarah is a designer, artist, and storyteller studying product design and art practice at Stanford University. In high school, she exhibited work at Congressman Ro Khanna’s office and the New Museum Los Gatos and won 1st place in the Growing Up Asian in America contest sponsored by NBC. Sarah spent her summers working on a climate change storytelling exhibition at The Tech Interactive, painting a mural, and interning in the contemporary department at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum. She is the marketing director of Stanford Womxn in Design, a guide at Stanford’s Cantor Museum, and Seeds of Change leader in the VMWare Women’s Leadership Innovation Lab. Sarah’s Masterclass will focus on how high school students can build art and design portfolios.

From Big Data to Brontë and Dickens: Exploring the Digital Humanities

Karen Ge, Stanford University

Karen is an undergraduate at Stanford University studying symbolic systems, a discipline integrating computer science, linguistics, philosophy, and other diverse fields. Karen is fascinated by the ways we learn, grow, and make sense of the world around us. In high school, Karen conducted number theory research at the Research Science Institute (RSI) and attended the Math Olympiad Summer Program (MOP). In college, Karen was a core lecturer at the Harvard College Association for U.S.-China Relations Summit for Young Leaders in China. She is also a researcher at Stanford's Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis (CESTA), Stanford’s digital humanities research hub. Karen's Masterclass will introduce students to the interdisciplinary field of digital humanities and how they can utilize cutting-edge technologies to analyze the changing human experience.

Engineering and Technology

How to Build Anything: Lessons from Hackathons and Science Fairs

Michael Truell, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Michael is an undergraduate at MIT studying computer science, biology, and statistics. In high school, Michael interned at hedge fund Two Sigma and created Halite: an AI programming competition that has been played by over 15,000 people around the world. Michael also attended the Research Science Institute (RSI), where he applied probabilistic computing to diabetic healthcare data. He attended the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) competition and won the NASA Award, the CERN Research Award, and the 2nd Place Award in the Robotics and Intelligent Machines Category. Michael's Masterclass will share his advice on building and lessons he has learned from hackathons and science fairs. 

Sharing Your Passion for STEM: Starting Education Initiatives in Your Community

Shreya Ravi, Stanford University

Shreya is an undergraduate at Stanford University studying computer science. In high school, Shreya was the co-captain of her robotics team, where she led over 60 students to win the International Creativity in Design Award in the FIRST Robotics Competitions. To share her passion for engineering and technology, Shreya founded the Roboneers LEGO Robotics Summer Camp, a program promoting early interest in STEM amongst inner city elementary school students. In addition to robotics, Shreya conducted research at Medtronic, a global leader in medical technology. Shreya’s Masterclass will discuss how students can share their passion for STEM and start their own educational initiatives.

Getting Started with Arduino and Other Hardware Projects

Michael Oduoza, Stanford University

From Canada, Michael is jointly pursuing a B.S. and M.S. in electrical engineering at Stanford University. In high school, Michael won 1st Place in the International University of Waterloo Chemistry Competition: he was the first person-ever to earn a perfect score in the history of the competition. In addition, Michael has pursued numerous research projects in the fields of nanoscale semiconductors, nanoelectronics, and programmable logic devices. In college, Michael has conducted research at the Stanford Nanofabrication facility, designed chips at Apple, and taught as a teaching assistant for Stanford’s ENGR 40M (Introduction to Electrical Engineering). Michael’s Masterclass will discuss getting started with arduino projects and other forms of hardware engineering. 

Starting Aerospace Projects From Scratch

Matthew Tan, Stanford University

Matthew is an undergraduate at Stanford University studying aero/astro engineering. Matthew has worked on many independent engineering projects over the past few years, from autonomous aircraft design for agricultural surveying to speech recognition for inter-cockpit communications. In high school, he attended the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) competition and won the NASA Special Award. He also attended the Research Science Institute (RSI) where he was named Co-Rickoid of the year. In addition to independent engineering projects, Matthew has conducted research at Aurora Flight Sciences and the Air Force Research Laboratory. Matthew’s Masterclass will share his advice on how to get involved with hands-on aerospace and other engineering projects in high school.

Biology and Healthcare

From CRISPR to Computational Biology: Starting Biology Research

Jiwoo Lee, Stanford University

Jiwoo is jointly pursuing a B.S. in computational biology and an M.S. in biomedical informatics at Stanford University. In high school, Jiwoo conducted biology research on CRISPR-Cas9 and was awarded Best in Category in Biomedical and Health Sciences at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF). Jiwoo also attended the Research Science Institute (RSI), was a Semifinalist in the Regeneron Science Talent Search (STS), and was a Semifinalist in the Siemens Competition in Math, Science, and Technology. For her research, Jiwoo was nominated as a WIRED25 winner by Nobel Laureate Jennifer Doudna, co-founder of the CRISPR-Cas9 technology. Jiwoo’s Masterclass will discuss CRISPR, computational biology, and how high school students can get started with biology research.

How to Apply Data Science to Healthcare

Nithin Buduma, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Nithin is currently a machine learning engineer at XY.ai, a Harvard-based startup empowering healthcare companies in their use of diverse sources of clinical, genomic, and exposure data. Previously, Nithin graduated from MIT with a B.S. in computer science and a M.Eng. with a concentration in artificial intelligence. In high school, Nithin was a USA Biology Olympiad (USABO) National Finalist (top 20 nationally). Nithin has conducted bioinformatics research at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), and he is also a co-author of the 2nd edition of the Fundamentals of Deep Learning. Nithin's Masterclass will discuss how data science is applied to healthcare. 

Applying the Biodesign Innovation Process to Healthcare Projects

Dr. David Hindin, VA Medical Center

Dr. Hindin is currently a surgeon at the VA Medical Center in Palo Alto, California and will be completing a fellowship in Surgical Critical Care at Stanford in 2021. He graduated summa cum laude from University of Pennsylvania, double majoring in Molecular Biology and English, and later earned his M.D. there as well. Dr. Hindin is an alumnus of Stanford’s Biodesign Innovation Fellowship, a year-long, immersive program that provides structured training in needs-driven innovation within healthcare. His experience in Biodesign is documented in a series of vlogs on his YouTube channel (https://youtube.com/davidhindin). Dr. Hindin’s Masterclass will teach high school students how to leverage the Biodesign process to harness their own creativity, by learning how to recognize problems and brainstorm solutions with the potential to be productized.

Launching Healthcare Companies

Utkarsh Tandon, Stanford University

Utkarsh is an undergraduate at Stanford University studying computer science. In high school, Utkarsh created OneRing: an intelligent wearable ring for Parkinson’s patients to monitor movement disorder. For his work, Utkarsh received the 2nd Award at the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Computational Biology and Bioinformatics, was a Top 10 Presenter at the Research Science Institute (RSI), and won 1st Place at the National Junior Science and Humanities Symposium (JSHS). Previously, Utkarsh conducted research at the Parkinson’s Institute and Clinical Center, Stanford University’s AI Lab, and Harvard Medical School’s Psychiatry Neuroimaging Lab. Utkarsh’s Masterclass will discuss his experiences creating a company out of his research, including fundraising on Kickstarter, building a full stack application, and shipping to backers in 14 countries.