Kerry Eller Named 2020 Truman Scholar

Portrait of Kerry Eller
Kerry Eller COE’21 is Northeastern’s newest Truman Scholar.

Kerry Eller COE’21, a Northeastern University junior, has been named a 2020 Truman Scholar, earning the United States’ premier graduate fellowship for those who intend to devote their careers to serving the public good. Eller, a bioengineering major with a political science minor, is one of 62 Scholars selected from a pool of 773 candidates nationwide, and she follows in the footsteps of Juan Gallego CSSH’20 and Kritika Singh COE’20, who earned the award in 2019.

The Truman Scholarship is a highly competitive, merit-based award that seeks to identify and reward college juniors who are true “change agents,” with the passion, intellect, and leadership potential to improve the ways that public entities—be they governmental bodies, nonprofits, educational institutions, or advocacy organizations—serve the public good.

Kerry Eller is dedicated to ensuring that those in low-income countries have access not simply to the medical technologies that save and enhance life, but also to the apparatus of development itself. Growing up in Rhode Island, Kerry spent high school summers developing a cell line that could be used to heal tears in the menisci. After her first year at Northeastern, she worked at Brown University developing novel assay techniques that led to an eightfold increase in her lab’s capacity to image fish larvae in search of chemicals that could repair vision impairments currently affecting 253 million people.

She next embarked on a project characterizing musculoskeletal effects of obesity, another rapidly increasing threat to human health. Most recently, Kerry completed a global co-op at the Center for Technology for Research and Development with Social Impact at Chile’s Universidad del Desarrollo. There, she worked to improve both the mechanical function and the diagnostic accuracy of a remote mosquito trap. In recognition of her outstanding accomplishments and potential as a scientific researcher, Kerry earned Northeastern’s nomination for the Goldwater Scholarship as well as the Truman Scholarship this year.

Kerry’s passion for research with social impact is also a distinguishing feature of her extensive extracurricular involvement in organizations dedicated to global health. Kerry aims to complete a PhD in bioengineering and to pursue a career working with communities around the world to develop culturally appropriate technologies that expand access to healthcare.

Truman Scholars have a long and distinguished history of public service. Notable Scholars include U.S. Senator Chris Coons; journalists George Stephanopolous and Jeffrey Toobin; Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch; former Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice; former Arizona Governor and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano; New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio; and civil rights advocate and author Michelle Alexander.