Fourteen Seniors Win Fellowships for Post-Grad Study at Cambridge

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., May 22, 2017—Williams College has announced the winners of the Dr. Herchel Smith Fellowship for graduate study at Cambridge University’s Emmanuel College. The 14 seniors awarded the fellowship are Megumi Asada, Osama Brosh, David Burt, Nikolaus Howe, Emily Hoyt, Alexander Kastner, Fernanda Lai, Terrance Mensah, Christian Ruhl, Aaditya Sharma, Vidya Venkatesh, Nathaniel Vilas, Caroline White-Nockleby and Daniel Wong. Three of the students— Asada, Venkatesh and White-Nockleby—have decided to defer their enrollment at Cambridge until the 2018-19 academic year.

Asada, a math major from Westport, Conn., will pursue a third year of undergraduate course work during the first year of her fellowship to prepare for the second year, when she will pursue a Master’s in advanced study in mathematics. She is completing an honors thesis in math, “Periodic Paths on the Hexagonal Billiards Table.” At Williams, she participated as a researcher in the SMALL math research program, working on research projects in number theory with Professor Steven Miller. She attended the Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford. While at Williams, she was a member of the Association of American Women in Mathematics, the Nihonjin American Students Union, and the Asian American Students in Action. She also was a tutor and teaching assistant in the chemistry department. Asada was previously named a Clare Boothe Luce Scholar, a Class of 1960 Scholar in biochemistry, and was a 2016 Dunbar Student Life Prize winner.

Brosh is a double major in biology and mathematics from Beirut, Lebanon. He is completing a thesis on genetics related to morphological and statistical analysis of data from boreal chorus frogs with Professors Luana Maroja and David Smith in the biology department. Researching with Maroja since 2014, Brosh presented on his genetics research at the Evolution 2016 conference. Brosh plans on pursuing an M.Phil. in the lab of Professor Frank Jiggins in the genetics department, whose lab focuses on genomics as well as evolutionary and molecular genetics. While at Williams, he was the co-president of the Williams College Debating Union, a member of the Information Technology Committee, a teaching assistant in biology and a tutor in genetics. In 2016, he studied abroad in Budapest, Hungary; and in 2014, he interned for Amideast, teaching prep courses in biology for high-achieving students in Lebanon.

Burt, of Middlebury, Vt., is majoring in mathematics. He is completing an honors thesis in number theory with Professor Steven Miller, and was named a Goldwater Scholar in 2016. Burt plans to pursue an M.Phil. in machine learning, speech and language technology his first year at Cambridge, and then pursue an M.Phil. in Computational Biology during his second year. Burt spent a semester studying abroad in Budapest, Hungary. While at Williams, Burt was a mathematics teaching assistant, a member of the American Mathematical Society, and president of the Williams Soccer League. He spent the last two summers researching number theory as a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) student at Williams and Texas A&M University. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Burt also previously was awarded the Erasmus Benedict Prize in Math. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in mathematics.

Howe is a mathematics major from Maastricht, the Netherlands. He is completing an honors thesis on algorithm development and energetics of RNA folding with Professor Daniel Aalberts. Howe plans to pursue an M.Phil. in advanced computer science during his first year at Cambridge, and then an M.Phil. with a focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning during his second year. He would like to pursue a Ph.D. in data science at the Alan Turing Institute in London. Howe spent a semester as an intern with CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Geneva, Switzerland; and completed another internship with Fermilab in Batavia, Ill. While at Williams, Howe was a teaching assistant in mathematics, the co-director of the Williams College International Orientation, and a member of the Williams Concert Choir and the cycling team. He was a Davis United World College Scholar in 2013.

Hoyt, a chemistry major from Wellesley Hills, Mass., is completing her honors thesis in chemistry with Professor Sarah Goh. She plans to pursue an M.Phil. in chemistry at Cambridge studying in Goncalo Bernardes’ lab, which focuses on protein chemistry-based research exploring targeted cancer therapeutics. Hoyt plans to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry, chemical biology or bioengineering. In 2016, Hoyt was a researcher at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland, and in 2015, she was a National Science Foundation (NSF) undergraduate researcher at CytoVale, a medical diagnostic start-up in San Francisco. While at Williams, Hoyt was a teaching assistant in computer science, a member of Ultimate Frisbee and a TeamEph orientation leader. She won the Harold H. Warren Prize for Chemistry in 2015.

Kastner, a mathematics major from Fegersheim, France, is completing his math thesis, “Weak Closure Theorem in Infinite Measure.” He plans to pursue a Master’s of advanced study in pure mathematics, and then pursue a Ph.D. in pure mathematics and become a mathematics professor. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Kastner studied abroad in Budapest, Hungary in 2016. He was an NSF undergraduate researcher at Williams in mathematics, studying knot theory and ergodic theory, Kastner was a teaching assistant and tutor in mathematics. He also was president of the Williams Chess Club. He previously was awarded the Colin and Lilli Roche 1993 Student Research Fellowship.

Lai is an English major from North Point, Hong Kong, who is completing her thesis, “The Quality of Experience: The Communicability of the Lyric ‘I’ in Emily Dickinson and Claudia Rankine.” She plans to pursue an M.Phil. in criticism and culture at Cambridge, and wants to study the connections between the poetic form, habitat and housing. In 2015, she was a senior fellow with Humanity in Action, researching and studying human rights in Berlin, Germany, and the U.S. She was a research assistant with Professors Dorothy Wang and James Pethica, and previously received a Colin and Lilli Roche 1993 Student Research Fellowship to study the relationship between women artists’ books and experimental poetry in the archives at Harvard and Duke. She studied abroad for a semester at Pembroke College at Cambridge in 2015. While at Williams, she served on the English Department Majors Committee, was a community builder at the Davis Center, co-president of the Williams College Debating Union, a member of the Lecture Committee, co-coordinator and tutor at the writing workshop, wrote for The Williams Record and sang with the Williams Concert Choir and the Far Ephs a cappella group. She was a Class of 1960 Scholar in English and was a Class of 1957 Scholar.

Mensah is a biology major from Greensboro, N.C., who is completing his thesis in neuroscience on central and systemic inflammation effects on contextual memory with Professors Lauren Williamson and Noah Sandstrom. He will pursue an M.Phil. in clinical neuroscience with Dr. Keith Martin, an ophthalmologist who studies glaucoma. In 2016, Mensah worked as a scholar and research assistant in the Harvard Summer Honors Undergraduate Research Program to examine how Sonic Hedgehog (shh) protein affects neural wiring in developing mice. A Questbridge Scholar, Mensah was a research assistant in neuroscience at Williams, co-chair of the Black STEM Student Association and a tutor in biology and chemistry.

Ruhl, an art history major from Williamsville, N.Y., will pursue an M.Phil. in history and philosophy of science during his first year at Cambridge, and then an M.Phil. in political thought and intellectual history during his second year. He wants to study the practice of diplomatic gift giving in early modern Europe and the emergence of international laws protecting art from wartime plundering. Ruhl completed internships at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and Kiplinger Magazine. He was a research assistant for Professor Antonia Foias at the Chachalu’um Archaeological Project in Guatemala. He also spent a year at the Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford. At Williams, Ruhl wrote and was an editor at The Williams Record, was a Williams Outdoor Orientation for Living as First-Years (WOOLF) leader and a member of the Williams Outing Club. He previously was a Class of 1960 Scholar for art history and received a Colin and Lilli Roche 1993 Student Research Fellowship.

Sharma, a mathematics major from New Delhi, India, is completing his thesis in mathematics with Professor Steven Miller. He plans to pursue a Master’s of advance study in applied mathematics and an M.Phil. in advanced computer science. He wants to pursue a Ph.D. in an interdisciplinary field that combines math and computer science. A Phi Beta Kappa member, Sharma spent a year at the Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford. He did mathematics research at Williams in the SMALL math program and at the University of Michigan. At Williams, Sharma was involved with the Center for Learning in Action, leading a spring break service trip in Berkshire County, and served as an International Student Orientation leader and on the First Days Committee. He was a teaching assistant in mathematics and statistics and a tutor for physics and mathematics. He tutored students at Mount Greylock High School, and at Schools Plus while he was at Oxford.

Venkatesh, a mathematics and philosophy double major from Swarthmore, Penn., is completing her thesis on philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein with Professor Steven Gerrard. She plans to pursue a Master’s in Culture and Criticism her first year at Cambridge, and then a Master’s in philosophy her second year, continuing her study of Wittgenstein. She plans to obtain a Ph.D. in philosophy. In 2015, Venkatesh studied abroad in Budapest, Hungary. At Williams, Venkatesh was involved in the SMALL math program researching additive combinatorics, as well as a teaching assistant in philosophy. She belonged to the Association for American Women in Mathematics, and sang in the Williams concert and chamber choirs. She was previously a Clare Boothe Luce Scholar.

Vilas is a music and physics double major from Topsham, Maine. He is completing a thesis in physics with Professor Tiku Majumder. He plans to pursue an M.Phil. in physics and wants to conduct research on ultracold quantum gases with Professor Zoran Hadzibabic. He then plans to pursue a Ph.D. at an atomic physics lab. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Vilas was a Clare Boothe Luce Scholar. At Williams, Vilas was a research and teaching assistant in physics, a leader of Jazz at Williams, the lead bell ringer in the Williams Bell Ringer Guild, a physics tutor, and a member of the Williams Moocho Macho Moocow Marching Band. He plays classical and jazz piano, as well as bassoon.

White-Nockleby is a geosciences and American studies double major from Santa Monica, Calif. She is completing her thesis in geosciences with Professor Mea Cook. A member of Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi, White-Nockleby spent this year doing independent research on the impacts of the chemical PFOA on local water supplies. She was a RISE Fellow with the German Academic Exchange Service and spent a semester at the Williams-Mystic program, where she won the American Maritime History Prize. She was a research assistant in geosciences, and an NSF undergraduate researcher at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill’s Institute of Marine Sciences. At Williams, she was a Williams Science Teaching Fellow at Brayton Elementary School in North Adams, a writing workshop tutor, a member of the Williams Outing Club and the Williams College Sustainable Growers, a leader for WOOLF, and sang with Ephoria, an a cappella group.

Wong, a physics major from San Francisco, Calif., is completing his physics thesis with Professor Daniel Aalberts. He plans to pursue a Master’s in physics with a focus on condensed matter, both hard and soft, and biological physics. He will then pursue a Ph.D. in biological or condensed matter physics. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Wong was a teaching assistant in physics, a tutoring coordinator at Mount Greylock High School, a member of Williams College Peer Health, and was the captain of the men’s soccer team his senior year.

The Dr. Herchel Smith Fellowships were established in 1979 by Smith to enable Williams graduates to study at Emmanuel College at Cambridge University for the two years following their graduation.

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Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions on U.S. applicants are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.

 

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