The five Penn seniors who just won the Thouron Award have spent their undergraduate careers studying very different subjects, but now, all have found a path to graduate school in the United Kingdom.
In 1960, Sir John Thouron and his wife established the Thouron Award to encourage a closer relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States. Each year, a few Penn graduates or seniors are selected to receive full tuition to earn a graduate degree at a university in the United Kingdom as well as a living stipend. This year, five undergraduates and three recent graduates were chosen as winners.
Engineering and Wharton senior Emily Zhang received the award having already seen and experienced the United Kingdom. She's majoring in bioengineering with a mathematics minor and a concentration in finance and management and plans to attend the Cambridge Judge Business School of the University of Cambridge next year to earn a master’s in technology policy.
During the summer before her sophomore year, Zhang won the John Thouron Prize For Summer Study, a prize from the same family. This prize fully funds three Penn, Harvard and Yale undergraduates to enroll in the Pembroke-King's Programme over the summer at the University of Cambridge.
“That was my first experience going to the U.K. and I’ve always wanted to go back,” Zhang said. “I just felt it would be really cool to go back during the academic year because you get to immerse yourself in the culture when there’s other students there.”
Since Zhang wants to pursue biotechnology, she chose to study at Cambridge specifically because of the large number of biotech companies in the area.
“I think that a lot of biotech companies, or just in general the lab sciences, are all global," she said. "So you need to have a sense of what goes on in other places in order to speak well in the industry.”
College senior Angela Perfetti is interested in the intersection between medicine and society. She is majoring in middle eastern studies with a minor in chemistry and is planning to earn a master’s degree in medical anthropology from Durham University.
Perfetti plans to go into clinical medicine eventually, but was drawn to the field of medical anthropology through research.
“What I found out about medical anthropology research that I value in particular is that it really keeps the focus of medical research on the patients you’re working with or the population or the people,” Perfetti said. “I think, for me, my goal in a career in clinical medicine was really about the people so I felt like research that really studied people in their everyday lives was really appealing to me. “
Although she wants to come back after her time in the United Kingdom to go to medical school in the United States, she said she is not completely against a change in plans.
“I think I will definitely be moving back for medical school,” Perfetti said. “That being said, the vast majority of people whom I’ve heard from after studying there just want to stay there forever so I could definitely be swayed.”
College senior Peter Bryan is majoring in cognitive science with a concentration in neuroscience and a minor in BBB. In the United Kingdom, Bryan is planning on earning a master’s degree in computer science and machine learning at University College London.
Bryan has been interested in pursuing computer science for a while now.
“I’ve always liked computer science — I’ve done PennApps and stuff before — and I knew I wanted to do something in between my undergraduate and PhD parts of life so I thought I’d take advantage of it and make it a computer science session,” Bryan said.
Bryan said he would not have stayed in the United States to get a master’s because he did not think the price of the degree would be worth it. However, he thinks that the opportunity to earn his master’s will help him with his goal of pursuing a doctorate in neuroscience.
“Superficially, a master’s will help with applying to PhD programs,” Bryan said, “but also neuroscience has a fairly large component of data analysis, which computer science will obviously help.”
College senior Jade Huynh hopes to use the award to research refugees — something she's personally connected to. She currently studies modern middle eastern studies and is planning to attend the University of Oxford to pursue a master’s degree in forced migration and refugee studies.
Huynh grew up in Whitehall, Pennsylvania, which she says is home to a large amount of Syrian refugees, and this sparked her initial interest in middle eastern studies and refugee studies.
Huynh, who is the daughter of refugees, said she learned about the forced migration and refugee studies program at Oxford very early on in her undergraduate career, and she felt personally connected to the topic.
“I was always very fascinated by things that were happening in the Middle East but not really sure what was going on,” Huynh said. “So when I entered Penn, I started taking Arabic classes and classes in middle eastern studies on a slum to fill gaps on knowledge I didn’t have. One thing led to another and I really liked it.”
College senior Audrey Harnagel plans to use her award to further her interest in two very different fields. She is currently studying philosophy and biochemistry and will be attending the University of Cambridge to earn a master’s degree in the history and philosophy of science and medicine.
Harnagel found that her school path and career goals are unique in that she is interested in both philosophy and biochemistry, but she found her program at Cambridge an ideal way for her to pursue higher education in both fields.
“I intend to build a career in research science, but I really wanted to hang on to the philosophical perspective and bringing a critical eye to the research science community,” Harnagel said, “so that’s why I ended up applying to study history and philosophy of science at Cambridge.”
Harnagel was also interested in her program because she is given more freedom to do research.
“My particular program at Cambridge is very research-focused and very open-ended so I don’t have a lot of courses I’ll be taking — it’s very much just independent-research and that was really cool to me,” Harnagel said.Comments powered by Disqus
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