Three with MIT connections win 2022 Churchill grants | MIT News


MIT Seniors David Darrow and Tara Venkatadri have been selected as 2022 Churchill Fellows and will begin graduate studies in the UK from autumn next year. James Diao, a Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology (HST) graduate student, received the Kanders-Churchill Science Policy Fellowship.

The Churchill Scholarship is a highly competitive scholarship that offers 16 American students annually the opportunity to pursue a funded degree in Science, Mathematics or Engineering at Churchill College, Cambridge University. Established in 1963, the grant recognizes former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s vision of academic exchange between the United States and Great Britain. Since 2017, two more Kanders Churchill scholarships for science policy studies have been awarded annually.

David Darrow

David Darrow is from Wallingford, Connecticut, and is a math major with physics and German minors. He will be pursuing an MPhil in Scientific Computing at Cambridge University. Darrow aspires to become a professor of mathematical physics and work in fluid dynamics or climate modelling.

Darrow began researching fluid dynamics in his senior year of high school as one of 17 students selected by the MIT PRIMES USA mentoring program. Since arriving at MIT, he has continued to be involved in a variety of challenging mathematics projects. Among others, he has explored internal diffusion-limited aggregation with Professor David Jerison, symplectic topology with Daniel Alvarez-Gavela and protein folding with PhD student George Stepaniants. Last summer Darrow did an internship with the National Security Agency and will be doing an internship with the British intelligence and security organization GCHQ this summer.

An accomplished polyglot and Eagle Scout, Darrow has conducted studies in German, French, Spanish and Russian and given a Spanish language presentation of his work as part of the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics program. He has received several awards for excellence in German studies and was named an Ellen Crocker Distinguished Scholar by the MIT Global Studies and Languages ​​Department.

Darrow is a dedicated mentor and tutor dedicated to inspiring and guiding the next generation of math scholars. He is an active mentor to high school students at MIT PRIMES and participates in a mentoring program offered by the MIT Undergraduate Mathematics Association.

Tara Venkatadri

Tara Venkatadri, from Ardsley, New York, majors in Aerospace Engineering and minors in Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. She will pursue an MPhil in Engineering at Cambridge University and then plans to embark on a PhD program in Aerospace Engineering with a focus on Materials and Structures. She hopes to pursue a research career, developing novel aerospace structures that will allow humanity to venture deeper into the solar system than ever before.

Venkatadri, who was the 2021 Barry Goldwater Scholar, has done research with Professor Richard Linares at the MIT Space Systems Lab and is currently working with Professor Tal Cohen in her Nonlinear Solid Mechanics lab. During an internship at NASA Goddard Flight Center, she identified potential lunar landing sites for future lunar missions and later presented her work at the 50th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference. At SES Satellites, she developed programs for forecasting power consumption for spacecraft in medium earth orbit. Last summer, Venkatadri worked at Boeing as a civil engineering intern, modeling the forces on hardware that connect aircraft components.

Since her sophomore year, Venkatadri has mentored freshmen as an associate counselor and was a teaching assistant for the Experimental Study Group’s freshman learning community. Throughout college, she was a violinist with the MIT Symphony Orchestra and was involved in the student group Singing for Service, which aims to connect with isolated communities through music. Venkatadri is a member of the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society.

James Diao

James Diao is a third-year graduate student in the Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology program. Originally from Sugar Land, Texas, Diao graduated from Yale University with degrees in Statistics and Data Science, and Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. As a Kanders Churchill Fellow at Cambridge University, he will pursue a master’s degree in public policy. Diao’s research aims to use clinical, genetic and computational tools to improve health equity and outcomes for diverse populations.

Last year Diao was awarded a PD Soros Fellowship for New Americans. Most recently, he was included in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for his work to eliminate the use of race information in kidney function tests. His research was cited by the National Kidney Foundation and the American Society of Nephrology in their updated guidelines released last fall. Previously, Diao developed algorithms for classifying cancer types from histopathological images at PathAI and predicting cardiovascular fitness of wearable devices at Apple.

Diao’s first author research was published in New England Journal of Medicine and JAMA and was profiled nature and science. In his spare time, he enjoys making dumplings and ballroom dancing.

MIT students interested in learning more about the Churchill Scholarship should contact Kim Benard, Associate Dean of Distinguished Fellowships in Career Advising and Professional Development.


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