Alumnus Anthony Tabet receives Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship

Alumnus Anthony Tabet has received a 2020 Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans. 

The competitive Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans program honors the contributions of immigrants and children of immigrants to the United States. Each year, it invests in the graduate education of 30 New Americans—immigrants and children of immigrants—who are poised to make significant contributions society, culture, or their academic field. Anthony was selected from a pool of 2,211 applicants. Each Fellow receives up to $90,000 in financial support over two years, and they join a lifelong community of New American Fellows.

Raised in a town outside of Beirut, Lebanon, and in Minneapolis, MN, Anthony Tabet is not afraid of the uncomfortably hot or the bitter cold. Born after a civil war that nearly killed his entire paternal family and forced them to flee to the countryside, Anthony immigrated to the United States with his parents in search of opportunity and freedom from violence.

Anthony went to high school in a city close to the University of Minnesota and began his university studies full time when he was sixteen. He fell in love with the chemical sciences, majored in chemical engineering, and worked in both the Professor Aaron Massari's lab and Professor Chun Wang's laboratory on polymeric materials for energy and biomedical applications. 

Anthony’s undergraduate training was supported by a Wallin Scholarship, Barry Goldwater Scholarship, and an Astronaut Foundation Scholarship. He received an Amgen Scholarship to support a summer research project at Stanford University, where he worked in the Professor Sarah Heilshorn's lab to create inks for 3D bioprinting. After graduating, he traveled to Cambridge University as a Churchill Scholar and received a Master's of Philosophy in chemistry, working in Professor Oren Scherman's lab on stimuli-sensitive hydrogels for biomedical applications in the central nervous system.

Anthony is passionate about translating research ideas from the lab into a commercialized technology. While living in Minneapolis, Anthony became frustrated with the barriers entrepreneurs face in starting companies in the Midwest. He cofounded the company CoCreateX to streamline how scientists and engineers find resources, capital, and community. When Anthony was 21, he was named to Minnesota Business magazine’s “35 Under 35.”

Now pursuing a doctorate in chemical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Anthony is creating brain-machine interfaces that can permanently integrate into the brain and be used to study or treat brain tumors like glioblastoma. After his training, Anthony hopes to start a research lab at a university that can perform both fundamental and translational research on technologies that can improve human health in the most challenging-to-treat diseases.

"At a time when anti-immigrant sentiment is rising at an alarming rate, the state of Minnesota has and continues to be a steadfast national leader in supporting immigrants and New Americans," said Anthony. "I really cannot overstate the extent to which I owe my entire career to the investments the state and the University of Minnesota made in me. The state was tremendously welcoming to my family and me as new immigrants from the Middle East. They gave me the opportunity to start as a full time college student, tuition-free, when I was 16 years old through the Post-Secondary Education Options program. Paid research opportunities with Professor Aaron Massari and Professor Chun Wang let me focus on learning how to be a scientist without having to take extra campus jobs. If you go look around the Departments of Chemistry, Biomedical Engineering, and Chemical Engineering & Materials Science, you will have a hard time finding a lab without undergraduate students conducting research. It is a very welcoming environment to new trainees, which lowers the barrier to entry for students including many New Americans who are interested in starting a scientific career."