Two Penn seniors have been awarded the 2023 Churchill Scholarship for a year of graduate research study at the University of Cambridge.
The Churchill Scholarship provides full funding for students in science, mathematics, and engineering fields to pursue a master’s degree at Churchill College, a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. College seniors Ryan Jeong and Arnav Lal are among the 16 Churchill Scholars selected nationwide for demonstrating a “proven talent in research” and “outstanding academic achievement.”
Fourteen Penn students have been awarded the Churchill Scholarship since the program’s founding 60 years ago. This year marks the second time that two Penn students have received the scholarship in the same year.
Jeong will graduate from the College this spring with a major in mathematics and a minor in statistics and data science. He is interested in the intersection of mathematics and machine learning, and has researched theoretical deep learning with professors at Princeton and McGill, according to Penn Today.
Some of his other work includes participating in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates, conducting theory research on neural nets, and working on deletion channels with Merriam Term Professor of Mathematics Robin Pemantle. At Cambridge, Jeong will pursue a master’s degree in mathematical statistics.
Lal is majoring in biophysics, biology, and philosophy in the College. Throughout his four years at Penn, he has conducted research at the Perelman School of Medicine to predict the development of embryos using sequencing technologies, under the mentorship of Celso-Ramon Garcia Professor Christos Coutifaris. He has also worked with Paul Planet, Perelman assistant professor of pediatrics, to understand the evolution of pathogens using computational and molecular tools.
Since January 2022, Lal has been working on a pathogen sequencing project for water quality in the Galápagos Islands with the Galápagos Education and Research Alliance.
“I’m really grateful to all the mentors I had, the research mentors and academic ones,” he said. “Because without them, I wouldn’t necessarily be here.”
Lal said that he was drawn to the Churchill program because of the Wellcome Sanger Institute, a genomics research institute at Cambridge with cutting-edge sequencing technology. He plans to pursue a master’s degree in biological sciences.
“I’m really excited to have the opportunity to work with people in an entirely different setting, individuals who will have different perspectives and ideas,” Lal said.