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MIT students earn two Rhodes, four Marshall scholarships
February 24, 2009

Last fall, two MIT students were named Rhodes Scholars and four were named Marshall Scholars, matching an Institute record for total recipients that was set in 1999 and equaled in 2005.Both of the prestigious scholarships fund graduate studies at British universities. MIT led all U.S. colleges and universities in the number of Marshall Scholars named for the year.

Matt Gethers ‘09, who is majoring in biological engineering with a concentration in political science, did research at the ­Chulabhorn Research Institute in ­Bangkok and worked on engineering genetically encoded memory systems in an MIT bioengineering lab. He also logged more than 50 hours per semester as a third rider with MIT’s Emergency Medical Service ambulance and tutored in Cambridge schools each week. Gethers will enter the ­Philosophy, Poli­tics, and Economics Programme at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar.

Alia Whitney-Johnson ‘09, who is majoring in civil and environmental engineering, got an MIT public-service grant to volunteer in Sri Lanka after the 2004 tsunami. After spending time in a shelter for young Sri Lankan mothers whose pregnancies resulted from rape or incest, she founded Emerge Global. The nonprofit organization empowers these ostracized women by teaching them how to make beaded jewelry and helping them sell it in Colombo and the United States. As a Rhodes Scholar, Whitney-Johnson will enter the master-of-science course in development studies at Oxford’s Queen Elizabeth House.

Marshall Scholar Richard Lin ‘09 of Richfield, OH, and Taiwan led a team that developed an inexpensive device for Oxfam International that automatically chlorinates wells to prevent cholera outbreaks in rural regions of developing countries. A double major in materials science and engineering and biology, Lin also has double minors in history and applied international studies. He will study at Oxford’s School of Public Health before entering medical school.

Electrical-engineering and computer science MEng candidate David Reshef ‘08 of Livingston, NJ, designed software to detect epidemiological patterns in malaria outbreaks, producing interactive charts detailing such things as population density and proximity to wells. A member of the varsity cross-country and track-and-field teams, he has done research at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he also performs magic for pediatric patients. As a Marshall Scholar, Reshef will pursue a doctorate at Oxford.

Mechanical-engineering major ­Nathaniel Sharpe ‘09 of Canton, MA, placed third in an MIT robotics competition, qualifying for the international design competition Robocon 2007 in Thailand, where his team placed second. As an intern at Apple, he redesigned an iPod for use by paraplegics. An award-winning juggler, Sharpe led a beginners’ workshop on juggling for Palestinian children at the Aida Refugee Camp in Israel. He will use his Marshall Scholarship to earn master’s degrees in both engineering and engineering for sustainable development at the University of Cambridge.

Physics major Anjali Tripathi ‘09 of Woodland Hills, CA, arrived at MIT having already proved herself through two internships with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and a research project in the Caltech Seismological Laboratory. President of the MIT Society of Physics Students and a volunteer tutor in the Cambridge public schools, Tripathi competed twice on the TV game show Jeopardy, recently winning a reunion show. As a Marshall Scholar, she will study at Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy and earn an advanced certificate in mathe­matics.

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