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For Yildiz Ferri, the chance to work with three faculty members on research projects in astronomy, the humanities, and brain and cognitive sciences was a highlight of her undergraduate career. “I learned about different fields and saw how the labs work,” she says of her experiences with MIT’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). “It helped me figure out what I wanted to do with my own education. And it was a much more interesting job than just working in the dining hall.”

Yildiz and her husband, Matthew Ferri, recently established a fund to support UROP, which matches MIT students and faculty in research partnerships. “We hope this gift will help a student jump-start their future,” says Matthew. “If it inspires one student to go into a field they might not otherwise have had the opportunity to learn about, it might transform their life and benefit the world.”

Yildiz completed three UROP projects before earning a degree in physics in 1991, a master’s in electrical engineering and computer science in 1993, and a degree from Harvard Law School in 1997. Later, she worked at the Boston Consulting Group in New York.

“I wish I had had the opportunity to participate in a UROP project when I was an undergraduate,” says Matthew, who earned a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering from Rice University in 1989. He came to MIT “to try to do something transformational” and earned master’s degrees in both nuclear engineering and electrical engineering and computer science in 1994, as well as a PhD in nuclear engineering in 1997.

“MIT was clearly important to us, and it has allowed us to do a lot with our lives. We wanted to give back,” says Matthew, who has worked at Morgan Stanley for 14 years. He’s now a managing director for the company’s proprietary trading desk, Process Driven Trading (PDT), which is slated to become an independent firm known as PDT Advisors in 2012.

The couple met in a nuclear fusion class at MIT in 1991. They were married three years later and soon moved to New York. They now have two children and enjoy travel and skiing in the Berkshires.

“We always wanted to make a gift to MIT because we really believe in the Institute,” Yildiz says. “This gift is a way of showing our support for the UROP program and hoping it continues.”

For giving information, contact Rob Scott: 617-253-3394; Or visit

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Credit: Richard Howard

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