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Bethany Nolan
IU Communications

Last modified: Tuesday, April 3, 2012

IU Bloomington alumnus earns prestigious Hertz fellowship

April 3, 2012

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington alumnus Yun William Yu has been named a 2012 Hertz Fellow. He is the first person from IU to be awarded the honor, which is considered to be the nation's most highly competitive and prestigious graduate fellowship in the applied sciences and engineering.

Yun William Yu

Yun William Yu

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Fifteen recipients from more than 600 applicants were selected this year for fellowships through the Fannie and John Hertz Foundation, chosen for their intellect, their ingenuity and their potential to bring meaningful improvement to society. Valued at more than $250,000 per student, with support lasting up to five years, the fellowship gives recipients the freedom to innovate in their doctoral studies without research or university restrictions.

"I first came to know William through his work with IU's Board of Aeons and found him to be an exceptionally talented young man," Indiana University President Michael A. McRobbie said. "William's outstanding skills in the sciences, which earned him top awards in chemistry and math while at IU, are complemented by his love for the arts and humanities, particularly music and language.

"It is indeed a tremendous honor to be named a Hertz fellow. We are extremely proud to call William an IU alumnus and look forward to following his career."

"I'm quite excited, because having an external fellowship allows me to pursue more risky avenues of research," Yu said. "This allows me to take on projects my advisors might not be able to fund, or to initiate interdisciplinary collaborations. It gives me the freedom to be creative and ambitious."

A Wells and Goldwater Scholar, Yu entered IU in 2005 at age 15. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 2009 from the College of Arts and Sciences with majors in chemistry, mathematics and Germanic studies. While at IU, he also served on the Board of Aeons, the student research and advisory board to the IU Office of the President; performed with the university's swing dance club; sang in an a cappella group; and coordinated the university's undergraduate literary magazine, Labyrinth.

Following graduation, he was named a Marshall Scholar by the British government and spent two years studying at Imperial College London. He completed a Master of Research in biomedical physical chemistry, applying network partitioning techniques to modeling protein dynamics.

He's currently finishing his thesis for a Master of Philosophy from Imperial College London in applied mathematics, where he developed a novel local, multi-resolution method for community detection in complex networks.

Yu plans to pursue a doctoral degree in applied mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, having been inspired by the elegance of using mathematical abstractions to solve real-world problems. Future research interests include performing large-scale data analysis and using mathematical models to explain biological phenomena.