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Burchard Scholars named for 2013

Honorees chosen for demonstrating outstanding abilities and academic excellence in humanities, arts or social sciences, as well as in science and engineering

MIT's School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences has named 32 undergraduate students as Burchard Scholars for 2013. The selection recognizes sophomores and juniors who have demonstrated outstanding abilities and academic excellence in some aspect of the humanities, arts, and social sciences, as well as in science and engineering.

"Scholars are chosen for their love of abstract thinking across a variety of fields, as well as the pleasure in dialogue with peers and faculty, and the desire to understand the passion that inspires MIT research in the humanities, arts, and social sciences," says Margery Resnick, professor of literature and director of the Burchard Scholars Program.

Love of ideas

Burchard Scholars can come from any school or department of the Institute, and this year's honorees major in a range of disicplines, from astrophysics to linguistics, from brain sciences to mechanical engineering. What binds the group together, Resnick says, is a powerful curiosity about ideas.

"Engaging and engaged are defining characteristics of MIT's Burchard Scholars," Resnick says, noting that many past winners have gone on to receive other distinguished honors, including Rhodes, Marshall and Truman scholarships and fellowships.

Elegant dinner seminars

Named in honor of the School's first dean, John Ely Burchard, the Burchard Scholars Program brings undergraduates together with distinguished faculty for a series of eight dinner seminars that present leading edge research from MIT's humanities, arts, and social science disciplines. Past topics have included the presence of law in everyday life, the impact of new technology on gambling addiction, and the history of Chinese business.

The gatherings also give students experience in the art of intellectual give-and-take — a skill they value for helping them succeed in academic life, industry and business, as well as in scientific and other creative endeavors.

"The Burchard dinners are, for faculty and students alike, an oasis in our busy lives," Resnick notes. "The opportunity to enjoy two hours of uninterrupted conversation about ideas, in an appealing setting, is a refreshing change from the usual pace of life."

Thanks to the generosity of an alumna donor, each class of Burchard Scholars also has the opportunity to enjoy a cultural activity outside of MIT. In recent years, the group has attended performances of "Porgy and Bess" and "Hamlet." In 2009, Scholars met cellist Yo-Yo Ma in a backstage visit organized by Professor of Music Lowell Lindgren.

A highlight of the MIT experience

"The Burchard Scholars program is an MIT gem," says 2012 Scholar Benjamin Bell '14, a biology major minoring in applied international studies. "The questions posed at a Burchard dinner are not ones that I see on problem sets. I may never have a similar opportunity to learn from faculty and peers around the dinner table, and I know that my year as a Burchard Scholar will be one of the highlights of my MIT experience."

Deborah K. Fitzgerald, Kenan Sahin Dean of the School, congratulated the 2013 Burchard Scholars at a reception held in their honor on February 6 at the MIT Faculty Club. SHASS department heads, Burchard Faculty Fellows and last year's Burchard Scholars were all on hand to welcome the honorees.

The 2013 MIT Burchard Scholars:

Anne Cai '14
Political Science, Mathematics
minor: Economics, Management Science

Ravi Charan '14
Political Science, Mathematics
m: Physics

Emily Chen '14
Brain and Cognitive Sciences
m: Ancient and Medieval Studies, Management

Stephanie Cheng '15
m: Creative Writing

Nazia Chowdhury '14
m: Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Jakob Dahl '15
m: Music

Sebastian Denault '14
Mechanical Engineering
m: German

Samantha Fomon '15
m: Mechanical Engineering

Jessica Fujimori '14
Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences, Science Writing

Heath Gould '14
Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Abdulhamid Haidar '15
Economics, Computer Science and Engineering

Jacqueline Han '14
Political Science
m: Energy Science

David Han '14
Brain and Cognitive Sciences
m: Chemistry

Cory Hernandez '14
Political Sciences and American Studies
m: History

Brianna Jones '14
Brain and Cognitive Sciences
m: Science, Technology, and Society

Nathaniel Kim '14
Brain and Cognitive Sciences
m: Management

Jelimo Maswan '14
Electrical Science and Engineering
m: Applied International Science

Laura McCulloch '14
m: History

Christine Park '14
Brain and Cognitive Sciences
m: Chemistry

Elizabeth Qian '14
Aeronautics and Astronautics
m: Biology

Rebecca Reed '14

Audry Sedal '15
Mechanical Engineering
m: Management Science

Susan Shepherd '14
Writing and Humanistic Studies

Caroline Shinkle '15
Economics, Management
m: French, Political Science

Laura Stilwell '14
Urban Studies and Planning, Economics

Fangdi Sun '14
Biological Engineering
m: History

Pratiksha Thaker '14
Computer Science and Engineering

Erika Trent '15
Brain and Cognitive Science

Deena Wang '14
Computer Science and Molecular Biology

Sheila Xu '14
Science Technology and Society, Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences

Grace Young '14
Mechanical and Ocean Engineering

Angela Zhu '14
Biological Engineering

Story prepared by MIT SHASS Communications
Editorial and Design Director: Emily Hiestand
Senior Writer: Kathryn O'Neill
Communications Assistant: Kierstin Wesolowski

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