• Graduate student Zahir Dossa, left, along with Reshmaan N. Hussam ’09, middle, and Laurel Yong-Hwa Lee ’05 have been named recipients of the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans in 2010.

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Three from MIT win Soros Fellowships


One current and two former MIT students have been named recipients of the Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans in 2010. Graduate student Zahir Dossa ’08, along with Reshmaan N. Hussam ’09 and Laurel Yong-Hwa Lee ’05, were among 31 young scholars granted the fellowships, which support the graduate studies of immigrants and children of immigrants.

Dossa is in the second year of a dual-degree graduate program at MIT, aiming to receive both the MEng in electrical engineering and computer science, and a PhD in urban studies and planning. He received SB degrees from MIT in electrical engineering and computer science as well as management. Dossa was born in Hamilton, Ontario, to parents of Indian heritage who migrated from Tanzania, and are now naturalized U.S. citizens. He aims to forge a career specializing in engineering and urban planning projects in the developing world. As an undergraduate, Dossa and another student created Selsabila, an aid organization that sells and distributes irrigation pumps to low-income farmers in Sudan, allowing them to triple their production.

Hussam majored in economics at MIT and was a Burchard Scholar as a member of the Institute’s interdisciplinary honors program. She is applying to doctoral programs in economics and plans to focus on issues pertaining to the developing world. Hussam was born in the United States; her parents are naturalized U.S. citizens who emigrated from Bangladesh. As an undergraduate she performed field assignments in applied economics research about the condition of women in the developing world, studying issues like the effects of microcredit on women’s finances. Hussam also took leadership roles in Addir, MIT’s interfaith dialogue group, as well as the MIT Muslim Students Association.

Lee received undergraduate degrees in brain and cognitive sciences and biology from MIT, where she was also a Burchard Scholar and a varsity rower. Currently Lee is a second-year MD candidate at Harvard Medical School, having earned a DPhil in immunology as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University. She has led a study into the effects of the avian influenza A virus (H5N1), and was lead author on a research publication on the subject in the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Lee, who was born in South Korea and is a naturalized United States citizen, aims to have a career as both a physician and scientist.

Paul and Daisy Soros created their fellowship program in 1997. Over the past 13 years, 384 fellowships have been awarded, including 61 fellows conducting graduate study in 18 different fields at 20 universities. Program alumni hold 39 patents and include authors of 48 books, four composers whose work premiered this year with leading orchestras, 61 clerks for federal judges and 10 clerks for the U.S. Supreme Court.


Topics: Awards, honors and fellowships, Economics, Mechanical engineering, Students

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