Churchill scholar will focus on research at CambridgeBy Julia Morse
At the end of his phone interview for a Churchill scholarship, fourth-year student Thomas Graham learned he had won the prestigious award. His ambition to build on his scientific scholarship would now be possible as a future student of University of Cambridge theoretical chemist Robert Best, who studies protein folding.
“I was on the phone with Peter Patrikis, the executive director of the Churchill Foundation, and he told me I’d be one of the 2009 Churchill recipients,” Graham said. “I was absolutely thrilled.”
The scholarship, for the 2009-2010 academic year, will allow Graham to work toward his M.Phil. in Chemistry at Churchill College at the University of Cambridge.
“My experience at Churchill College will be entirely focused on research,” Graham said. “I’m very excited to be able to focus on that exclusively for a year. I think that working in a new field will provide me with a different perspective on science.”
Churchill scholarships, which were established in 1963 through the Winston Churchill Foundation, are awarded annually to students who demonstrate excellent academic performance and who have potential to contribute to the fields of science, engineering or mathematics.
The scholarships are worth between $44,000 and $50,000—including all tuition, fees and an allowance for living expenses.
Graham looks forward to working in the lab with Best.
“I’ve always been interested in the interface between the biological and physical sciences, and this project will allow me to explore that interest in a new way,” said Graham, who has been extremely active in the interdisciplinary, highly competitive Program in Physical and Chemical Biology for College students.
“PCBio has been one of the greatest experiences I’ve had in the College,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed interacting with peers who work on completely different things than I do. It’s been a wonderful learning experience.”
Although he is already thinking ahead to Ph.D. programs after his year at Cambridge, Graham is focused on the next chapter of his life.
“I’m thrilled about going to Cambridge,” he said. “I’ve wanted to be a scientist for as long as I can remember, and I’m excited to do a different type of science in a new environment.”
This is the second consecutive year a College student has been awarded a Churchill scholarship. Since 1992, there have been a total of 15 College recipients.