CalTech Initiative for Students

Undergrad Scholarships

“Science for the sake of science”

Nov 18, 2022

Caltech Wasserman Scholar Mahider Gessesse

Mahider Gessesse (Class of 2023) knows that science is key to solving some of the world’s toughest problems—and the investment doesn’t pay off immediately.

“If you’re a scientist, people have to have faith that your science will produce something for them, maybe not now but in some 50, 100 years,” she says.

Gessesse is a Wasserman Scholar studying computation and neural systems. This pedagogical foundation allows her to bring a hard science approach to brain health issues that have largely been left to psychiatry and psychology.

“If you have a heart issue, doctors will know what's wrong with your heart and give you medicine to fix it,” Gessesse says. “But if you have an issue with your brain, that's not the case. We don't know enough about the brain to know what's wrong.”

Gessesse is passionate about finding ways to treat psychiatric conditions much like other forms of health disorders are treated. Her Caltech experience has allowed her to work in the lab of Sarah Reisman, Bren Professor of Chemistry; and the lab of Ueli Rutishauser (PhD ’08), a visiting associate in biology and bioengineering who is based at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Scholarships are the most effective type of financial aid to attract ambitious students like Gessesse and allow them to learn and explore without concern about the cost of their education.

Our Initiative for Caltech Students has set a lofty goal to help these students: Raise $100 million for undergraduate scholarships so that more aspiring scholars can dive deep into their academic passions.

“I knew if I came here, I’d just be here to do science and to learn—science for the sake of science,” Gessesse says.

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