Courtesy of Masashi Kaneda (left), Emma Louden (center) and Maya Foster (right)

Three Yale graduate students were recently awarded the Quad Fellowship, an international collaboration to create a network of scientists and technologists dedicated to advancing innovation and collaboration. 

Emma Louden GRD ’26, Maya Foster GRD ’27 and Masashi Kaneda GRD ’26 will each receive an award of $50,000 to use on academic expenses, as well as both in-person and virtual opportunities for fellows to gain a deeper understanding of the intersection between STEM and society. The Quad Fellowship is a partnership between four nations: Australia, India, Japan and the United States.

“Everything I do is driven by a deep belief that science will make the world better,” Louden said.

Louden is a third-year doctoral student in Yale’s Department of Astronomy, studying the geometry of exoplanet systems. Categorizing the obliquities, effects of tides, evolutions and other characteristics in solar systems both similar and different to our own helps Louden better understand “Earth’s precarious position in the universe.”

As a Quad fellow, Louden is excited to gain a deeper understanding of how a career in science can intersect with public policy. Through the Quad Fellowship’s core program, fellows will learn how to best utilize their research for the collective benefit of the world. 

“I’m passionate about the Quad Fellowship’s mission to gather the brightest minds in STEM for the collective good,” Louden said. “I want to not only do the best science I can, but do it for the benefit of the world.”

Foster is a second-year doctoral student in biomedical engineering at Yale. She develops neuroimaging data analysis methods to characterize the brain networks and dynamics that underlie the development of psychosis-spectrum disorders such as schizophrenia. Her research, she said, bridges her experience with neuroscience and computer science research to provide high-utility, quantitative interpretations of brain dynamics.

“The Quad Fellowship provides a unique opportunity to improve my understanding of policy and how science and public policy intersect to impact society,” Foster said.

Foster added that she is excited to work with leaders who have experience translating scientific jargon into the language of policy makers, learning how to advocate for policies that benefit the populations she is interested in supporting through her research. Being a part of the Quad community, she said, will give her the unique experience to gain an understanding of how laws and culture influence scientific research, development and progress.

Furthermore, Foster is dedicated to applying her research to the populations it affects, including them in the process of shaping her primary research questions and goals instead of limiting her scientific training to just her field. She explains that she has ventured out to get clinical perspectives and observe how data related to psychiatric care and research is traditionally processed — as well as what doctors are paying attention to — in order to construct a dependable pipeline of analysis.

“It is common in academia to be restricted to science and numbers,” Foster said. “Less thought is considered regarding the patients and the populations that research ultimately affects.”

As a third-year doctoral student in chemical and environmental engineering at Yale, Kaneda is developing innovative technologies to address the global water security problem. His motivation to study water treatment technology stems from his previous volunteer experience in Indonesia, where he observed poorly maintained local water systems and sanitation. 

Kaneda aims to address the global water shortage problem by helping make safe and affordable drinking water accessible to all those in need,  especially individuals in rural areas. In his work as a chemical-environmental engineer, Kaneda explains, he collaborates with scientists across disciplines to create more robust water supply networks. 

“I aspire to work with policy makers to develop and deploy efficient water treatment technologies that consider local needs and meet country-specific public acceptance,” Kaneda said.

The Quad Fellowship is an educational initiative of The Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fund for Strategic Innovation.

Maria Korolik is a staff reporter for the SciTech desk, covering astronomy, engineering, and computer science. Originally from San Jose, California, she is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards college majoring in mechanical engineering and astrophysics.