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Three MIT Rhodes Scholars

Two students and an alumnus will study at Oxford in the fall.
February 18, 2015

Elliot Akama-Garren ’15, Anisha Gururaj ’15, and Noam Angrist ’13 were among the 32 Americans named Rhodes Scholars, tying the Institute’s 2009 record for the most recipients in a year and bringing the number of MIT Rhodes Scholars to 49. The three will pursue graduate studies next year at the University of Oxford.

From left to right: Elliot Akama-Garren, Anisha Gururaj, and Noam Angrist

Akama-Garren, a biology major from Palo Alto, California, plans to earn an MSc in integrated immunology. He will then return to the United States to pursue an MD-PhD and a career in academic medicine, studying the immune system to find treatments for a range of diseases.

As a freshman at MIT, Akama-Garren began doing research in the laboratory of Tyler Jacks, director of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, where he studied the potential of T cells in suppressing lung cancer. This work has resulted in two papers currently under review for publication. He has also done research at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and at Massachusetts General Hospital. The editor in chief for three years of the MIT Undergraduate Research Journal, Akama-Garren is also president and co-captain of MIT’s hockey team and volunteers at the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter.

Gururaj, of Chesterfield, Missouri, is a senior majoring in chemical-biological engineering. At Oxford, she will pursue an MSc in engineering science research and a master’s in public policy to prepare for a career developing affordable biomedical devices.

For two years, Gururaj has conducted research at MIT’s Little Devices Lab (LDL), working on individualized medical devices that users can assemble themselves. This summer, she went to Chile to investigate how diagnostic kits created by LDL can be used in rural settings.

Working with biology professor Michael Yaffe, Gururaj cofounded a project to design a low-cost, nonelectric fluid warmer for military trauma victims. In addition to doing research in Institute Professor Robert Langer’s lab and at the National University of Singapore, she has collaborated with Maiti Nepal, an organization that assists sex-trafficking victims, to expand Nepali girls’ access to K–12 education.

Angrist, of Brookline, Massachusetts, earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics. He will pursue an MSc in evidence-based social intervention and policy evaluation at Oxford. Named a Fulbright scholar to Botswana in 2013, he is currently working there on educational reform, conducting research on education and public health. He is the cofounder and executive director of Young 1ove, a nonprofit that connects young Africans with life-saving information on HIV and AIDS.

As an MIT undergraduate, Angrist did research related to the Affordable Care Act and was a research analyst for Professor Esther Duflo at the Jameel Poverty Action Lab. He also cofounded Amphibious Achievement, an after-school program for urban youth that combines academics and aquatics.

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