The two scholars from Northwestern are Anna Yermakova, of Buffalo Grove, Ill., and Mallory Dwinal, of Gig Harbor, Wash.
Yermakova is a senior majoring in biochemistry, piano, and the history and philosophy of science and logic.
Dwinal is also a Northwestern senior. She majors in Spanish, economics and international studies.
"When they announced my name I was pretty shocked and didn't really process what was going on," Dwinal told ABC7 Chicago. "We had the formal interview, and after that, the 16 finalists, I was one, were stuck in a room just waiting, waiting, and waiting for about three hours before they came out with their decision."
Yermakova has done research in chemical engineering and nanotechnology at the University of Washington, neuroscience at Northwestern and biomedical engineering at the University of Chicago.
Dwinal studied at Qinghua University in Beijing and founded a program for English as a second language education in Chicago elementary schools.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)