MPOWER Women in STEM Scholarship Winners Include Cancer Biology Researcher

by Juliet Terrill | In In The News | 18 August 2021 | Updated on: October 11th, 2022

MPOWER Financing is proud to continue our Women in STEM Scholarship Program, which first launched two years ago. We were excited when our first round received almost 300 applications, but this round shocked us in the best of ways! During the most recent cycle, we received over 1,000 eligible applications, from over 125 countries and 240 universities. 

Our MPOWER team was again impressed by the talent and dedication of these applicants. It was a difficult decision, but we narrowed the winners down to a Grand Prize Winner to be awarded $3,000, a Runner-Up award of $2,000, and  $1,000 for our Honorable Mention. We are excited to announce the recipients of the MPOWER Women in STEM Scholarship award.

Check out their amazing stories!


July 2021 winners:

Xuxu Gou, Cancer Biology Researcher

Grand Prize Winner; China, Baylor College of Medicine

Xuxu is a Ph.D. candidate at the Baylor College of Medicine from China. After completing her medical degree in China, she found her passion in translational research. Her research interests are focused on metastatic cancer and estrogen receptor (ESR1) gene fusions. 

Our committee was greatly impressed with her achievements. In her application essay, Xuxu wrote, “I have established a diagnostic gene signature to separate inactive ESR1 fusions from active ‘drivers’, and I identified new kinase targets for potential treatment for patients that express active ESR1 fusions,”. She is a strong advocate for other women in STEM, and hopes to, “accelerate the application of precision therapeutics to improve clinical outcomes for patients with metastatic cancer,”. 

“I am extremely honored and grateful to be one of the winners for the MPOWER Women in STEM Scholarship. As an international student, scholarship opportunities are very limited,” she said. “This award will financially support my doctoral education and motivate me to continue pursuing my study in metastatic cancers and precision therapeutics with the goal to improve clinical outcomes of patients. I strive to provide an encouraging and supportive environment for women in STEM fields,”. 


Diana Bertuol Garcia, Published Environmental Researcher

Runner-up Winner; Brazil, University of Victoria

Diana is a Ph.D. candidate in Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria. In her essay, she wrote of her past work on conservation projects with an NGO in Patagonia. This work inspired her current research, “After seeing devastating wildfires, I became interested in reversing ecosystem degradation and realized that, to effectively restore ecosystems, they need to resist extreme events and recover rapidly after they occur,”. 

At the University of Victoria, Diana is investigating the drivers of ecosystem resilience in restoration projects. She plans to, “support environmental management through ecological research, fuel discussions on the role of science in society, and create inclusive work environments,” she wrote.

“Receiving the MPOWER Women in STEM Scholarship is a humble experience and an incredible opportunity for me to advocate for an equitable and inclusive STEM field. Having often navigated fields dominated by men, such as science and outdoor education, I learned firsthand how a lack of representation can create feelings of inadequacy,” Diana said. “With the financial support from MPOWER, I can pursue my Ph.D. and be a role model that inspires other women to seek the career their want and help build a more diverse scientific community.”


Samyuktha Gopalsamy, Medical App Developer

Honorable Mention; India, Rutgers University

Samyuktha is a Master’s of Computer Science student at Rutgers University from India. She wrote of her three greatest accomplishments in her essay, and, “their immense impact on my worldview of technology,”, including her role as an academic tutor.

Samyuktha’s passion for medicine and technology stood out to our team. During her undergraduate studies, she developed an app to help patients with bipolar disorder remember to take their medications. “The next project involved creating a prediction model that analyzes the severity of COVID-19 related lung infections from computed tomography scans of patients,”. She hopes that her time at Rutgers will, “help me reach my goals of touching human lives through innovative research and software,”.

“It’s no secret that the world of STEM is male-dominated. The MPOWER Women in STEM Scholarship continues to encourage female students on their way to success in STEM,” Samyuktha said. “I am incredibly grateful to start my graduate study on a positive note with this award!”


We’d like to congratulate all of our winners, and we encourage all international and DACA students to apply to the next round of Women in STEM Scholarships, which is open through January 15, 2022!

Author: View all post by Juliet Terrill

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