Eight Williams College Seniors Win Fellowships to Study at Cambridge and Oxford

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

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., April 26, 2016—Williams College has announced the winners of the Dr. Herchel Smith Fellowship for graduate study at Cambridge University’s Emmanuel College and the Martin-Wilson Fellowship for graduate study at Worcester College at Oxford University. The seven seniors awarded the Herchel Smith Fellowship are Mendy Bindell, Tendai Chisowa, Peter Cihon, Ranana Dine, Bijan Mazaheri, Reid Pryzant, and Luxi Qiao. Petra Mijanovic was awarded the Martin-Wilson Fellowship.

Bindell, an English and religion major from Albany, N.Y., will pursue an M.Phil. in the philosophy of religion. He is completing an honors thesis in English about philosopher Walter Benjamin. In 2015, he was a Class of 1957 Research Fellow, conducting research on the theoretical work and legacy of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, working with Sedgwick biographer and Williams English Professor Kathryn Kent ’88. Bindell was also a Class of 1960 Scholar in the Humanities, and a contributor to the Williams Record and Williams Alternative.

Chisowa, a biology and chemistry major from Portage, Mich., will pursue a Ph.D. in clinical neurosciences. At Williams, she was involved in the Medical Reserve Corps, leading a group of 64 students in activities to promote public health and safety in the Williams community. She was a research assistant in biology, working on research related to targeted gene silencing in zebrafish. She also was active with the Center for Learning in Action and was a Class of 1960 Scholar in biology.

Cihon, a political economy and sociology major from Skaneateles, N.Y., will pursue graduate studies in computer science. He returns to England after spending his junior year there in the Williams-Exeter Programme at Oxford. Cihon is writing his senior thesis in sociology, analyzing privacy norms in the digital age. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, Cihon serves as the student chair of the college’s Information Technology Committee. In 2015, he won seed money in the Williams Business Plan Competition for his startup Memoir, a platform for users to secure photos anywhere and not compromise their privacy.

Dine, an art and religion major from Silver Spring, Md., will pursue an M.Phil. in Christian theology. She returns to England after studying abroad last year at Pembroke College. She is writing her senior thesis in religion on the tradition of rabbinic portraiture and the contemporary American rabbinate. At Williams, Dine was a Class of 1960 Scholar for Art Leadership and a Herbert H. Lehman Scholar for Extracurricular Excellence and Service to the Community, and she received a Bronfman Fellowship for Jewish studies. She is president and religious director of the Williams College Jewish Association and active in Interfaith at Williams College and INISH, the Williams Celtic dance group.

Mazaheri, a computer science and physics major from Wellesley, Mass., will pursue a master’s degree in mathematics. He is completing his physics honors thesis on RNA macrostates. While at Williams, Mazaheri was a track and field and cross country standout, as well as captain of both teams. In 2015, he had four All-American finishes—in cross country, indoor track, and two in outdoor track—and he was named an Academic All-American. Mazaheri holds the college’s records for the indoor 3K and 5K races and in the 5K and 10K races in outdoor track.

Pryzant, a computer science and statistics major from Falmouth, Maine, will pursue an M.Phil. in computational biology. He is doing his honors thesis in computer science on the topic of metagenomics. At Williams, Pryzant was a 2015 Goldwater Scholar and a Class of 1960 Scholar in biology and computer science. Pryzant was also a track and field standout at Williams and holds the college’s record for the heptathlon. He is the founder and president of the Williams Beekeeping Club.

Qiao, a chemistry major from Tallahassee, Fla., will pursue an M.Phil. in chemical engineering. She also received a Fulbright research grant to Germany and was a Class of 1960 Scholar in chemistry and biochemistry and molecular biology. She is at work on her senior thesis in chemistry, conjugating the antitumor enzyme lysozyme with synthetic polymers to improve its pharmacological properties. At Williams, she is the coordinator of the math and science resource center, managing 60 tutors and all activities related to peer tutoring. She also is the co-founder of Williams’ Circle of Women chapter, which helps girls in disadvantaged communities get access to education. She also participated on the women’s crew team.

Mijanovic, a French major from Williamstown, Mass., will pursue an M.Phil. in English studies (medieval period) at Oxford. In 2015, she received a Wilmers Language Study Grant to study paleography and attend the London Rare Books School in the United Kingdom. She also studied abroad in France in 2013. At Williams, Mijanovic has acted in theater productions and was a member of Caps and Bells and Immediate Theatre.

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.

The Allen Martin Fellowship was established by Martin ’60 to support a graduate studying at Worcester College at Oxford University. The Caroll Wilson Fellowship was established in 1907 from a bequest of Wilson’s will to support graduate study at Oxford University. The two fellowships are combined to support one graduating senior.

The criteria for selection are general intellectual ability and attainment in the major field of study, with special reference to the promise of original and creative work.


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.