ISU graduate is named Stanford Knight-Hennessy Scholar

AMES, Iowa — A recent Iowa State University graduate has been named a Stanford University Knight-Hennessy Scholar.

Victoria Kyveryga, who just completed a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and chemistry at Iowa State at the conclusion of the spring 2024 semester, will begin a Ph.D. program at Stanford later this year as part of the prestigious program.

Stanford’s Knight-Hennessy Scholars program aims to develop an interdisciplinary community of future global leaders to address the world's complex challenges through collaboration and innovation. The program's level of prestige and competition rivals that of the world's most renowned scholastic awards.

Kyveryga, of Ames, is one of 90 scholars selected for the 2024 Knight-Hennessy cohort. Cohort members come from 30 countries and represent 60 U.S. and international undergraduate institutions. Kyveryga plans to pursue a Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at the Stanford School of Engineering. She aspires to apply defect-property relationships in semiconducting materials toward improving energy transmittance efficiency.

Kyveryga discovered a passion for research in high school when she participated in the Young Engineers and Scientists program that allowed her to work in a laboratory at Iowa State. At just 16, she found that she enjoyed analyzing chemical engineering data and making sense of the numbers. Her favorite subjects in high school were physics and math, and she discovered that chemical engineering drew on both those disciplines. She decided that’s what she wanted study, and Iowa State, where both her parents had earned advanced degrees in agronomy, seemed like the perfect place to study.

“I almost grew up on the ISU campus,” she said. “I went to the university daycare as a kid, and I took classes there in high school. Both my parents were affiliated with Iowa State.”

As an undergraduate, she studied structure-property connections in inorganic materials for applications in energy conversion and transmittance. She explored various materials chemistry research initiatives through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames National Laboratory, Seagate Technology, and two National Science Foundation Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers. Her research interests focus on semiconductors, or materials that allow for an intermediate flow of electrons across atoms. Those materials play a critical role in energy harvesting technologies such as solar panels and thermoelectric devices.

Kyveryga was also an undergraduate research ambassador, president of the Ukrainian Club and co-president of the Engineering Student Council during her time at Iowa State.

Kyveryga said she found that success in research lies not just in taking on big problems but also in enjoying the day-to-day, incremental rhythms of the work. Gathering data and conducting experiments often requires a methodical pace and plenty of trial and error, which she learned to embrace during her time working in ISU laboratories.

For Kyveryga, that meant finding satisfaction with conducting X-ray analysis of crystal structures. As her research progressed, she began to relish the challenge of finding the optimal synthetic conditions to grow the biggest and best crystals to study.