Three MIT students — Ugwechi Amadi, Caroline Huang and Steven Mo — have won Rhodes Scholarships to study next year at Oxford University, the highest number of winners from the U.S. that the Institute has ever had in a single year.
The seniors join a distinguished company of 40 former MIT recipients who have won the prestigious international scholarships since they were first awarded to Americans in 1904, according to the Distinguished Fellowships office.
“The success of these students in the Rhodes competition demonstrates that MIT’s insistence on strength in analytical skills, breadth of exposure to both technical and non-technical endeavor and deep commitment to human service are highly regarded by the selection panels, which seek academically accomplished future leaders who can understand complex world problems and provide innovative solutions to them,” said Linn Hobbs, chair of the Presidential Committee on Distinguished Fellowships and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Nuclear Science and Engineering. “Our three new Rhodes Scholars have been recognized for already demonstrating these leadership skills.”
A double major in brain and cognitive sciences and literature, Amadi, 21, of Camden, N.C., is an aspiring neurologist.
Since 2007, Amadi has participated in Professor Ki Ann Goosen’s research laboratory in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, where she is investigating a novel behavioral technique for use in rodent models of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Amadi also works at the Brad Dickerson Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital, researching the effect of age on the atrophy of brain regions traditionally implicated in Alzheimer’s Disease.
She has held a number of leadership roles at MIT, including president of the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Society and founder of the brain and cognitive sciences freshman pre-orientation program. In 2008, she was selected as an MIT Burchard Scholar on the basis of excellence in the humanities.
Amadi has also mentored middle-school girls through MIT’s Science Technology & Math (STEM) program for the past three years.
“Ugwechi is not a young woman whose passion and obvious commitment for science have suppressed her love of fun,” said Kimberly Benard, program advisor for Distinguished Fellowships. “She is a young woman who smiles and laughs easily; she puts others instantly at ease with her outgoing personality.”
Amadi will pursue an M.Sc. degree in psychological research at Oxford.
The second Rhodes Scholarship winner is Caroline Huang, 21, of Newark, Del. A brain and cognitive sciences major with minors in psychology and political science, Huang plans to dedicate her life to healthcare advocacy.
“Her voice has called for support for children of cancer patient parents, victims of domestic violence, Massachusetts constituents of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, inner-city children, child sufferers of hemophilia, and even her MIT classmates,” Benard said.
As an undergraduate research assistant for Professor John Gabrieli’s cognitive and affective neuroscience lab, Huang is using MRI imaging to investigate the area of the brain associated with reading and its applications to dyslexia. She is also researching causal learning in children at MIT’s Early Cognition Lab, which includes collecting data at the Boston Children’s Museum.
Huang has been involved in a variety of public-service efforts. Since June, she has interned for Sen. Paul Kirk’s Boston office, formerly the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s office, where she focuses on arts, disability, education, environment, Social Security and women’s issues. She also interns for the Cambridge Women’s Commission.
In addition to being an EMT and contributing editor to The Tech, Huang is co-chair of the Student Health Advisory Committee, leading the student portion of a five-year strategic health plan assessment.
As a freshman, Huang was a founder of MIT’s chapter of Camp Kesem, a nonprofit student-run summer camp for children of cancer patients.
Huang will pursue a doctorate in public health from the Ethox Centre at Oxford, where she will study the ethics of healthcare practice.
Steven Mo, 21, of Pearland, Texas, is MIT’s third Rhodes Scholarship winner.
A biology major with a concentration in economics, Mo spent his junior year studying biochemistry and molecular biology at Cambridge University in Britain. At Cambridge, he interned for the Department of Pathology and used bioinformatics tools to analyze chromosomal rearrangement of breast cancer cell lines.
In 2007 and 2008, Mo was an undergraduate researcher and summer intern for the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, a collaboration that integrates science, medicine and engineering to solve problems in human health. He conducted more than 2,400 hours of research in Professor Sangeeta Bhatia’s laboratory, where he researched regenerative technologies.
Mo is actively involved in the MIT community. Since 2006, he has been an instructor for MIT’s Educational Studies Program, supervising science and math classes for high school students in the greater Boston area. He is president of the MIT Student Ambassador Program, as well as MIT’s Chapter of National Society of Collegiate Scholars.
Mo was selected as a Burchard Scholar in February and has won numerous prizes in biology and biomedical engineering.
He also enjoys singing classical opera music and Broadway songs and has given solo performances at MIT and at Cambridge University.
“Steven is a very special, multitalented student,” said Bhatia. “He is not only an excellent scholar, but a glorious opera singer with a warm, generous heart. We are proud of him and happy that he is being recognized for his unique gifts.”
Mo plans to be a researcher after he receives his doctorate degree in biomedical engineering at Oxford.
Each year, 32 U.S. citizens are among the more than 80 students from around the world awarded Rhodes Scholarships to study at Oxford.