Students win prestigious fellowships, grants for graduate study and research

Nine students and alumni of the College have been awarded scholarships for graduate study and national fellowships. José Martínez ’10 received the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, Jared Hallett ’14 was named a 2013 Goldwater Scholar and Brian McGrail ’14 was selected for the Harry S. Truman Scholarship; the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded research fellowships to Samantha Carouso ’10, Madelyn Labella ’09, Sara Turner ’11, Annelise Snyder ’11, Danielle Perszyk ’09 and James Wilcox ’13.

“This has been quite a strong year in fellowships, not only in the number of national awards granted to Williams students and alums, but also in the number of applicants and finalists for those awards,” Katerina King, director of fellowships, said. “I think we are good at bringing in students who would not necessarily think of themselves as fellowships material. Just as every year, there have been surprises, good and bad. But Lynn [Chick, fellowship coordinator] and I are very happy for our students this year, very proud of them.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation established the Gates Cambridge Scholarship in 2000. Since then, eight graduates of the College have been awarded Gates Cambridge Scholarships, which cover the full cost of a graduate degree in any field of study offered at Cambridge. This year, 769 students from the United States applied, and 39 of them were offered scholarships. Martínez, who majored in political science at the College and graduated magna cum laude, is currently finishing his second M.Phil at Cambridge, in Middle Eastern Studies, under a Dr. Herchel Smith Fellowship. In 2010-11, under the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, Martínez completed a project, “Alienation or Liberation? Migration, Politics, and the Printed Press in Middle Eastern Communities;” his project led him to Argentina, Chile, Morocco, Syria and Jordan.

Martínez will use the Gates Cambridge Scholarship to pursue a Ph.D in politics and international studies.

The Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and Excellence in Education Foundation has named Hallett a 2013 Goldwater Scholar in recognition of his accomplishments in the field of mathematics. This year, 271 Goldwater Scholarships were given nationally. The foundation and the scholarship, named for Senator Barry M. Goldwater, were formed to encourage students to pursue graduate study and careers in mathematics and the sciences.

Hallett, a double major in mathematics and Chinese from Sterling, Va., plans to write a senior thesis in mathematics next year. He has won multiple awards in the past for his work, including the Erastus C. Benedict, Class of 1821, First Prize in Mathematics and a Roger G. Wilmers, Jr. 1990 Memorial Student Travel Abroad Fellowship. He participated in research with professor Cesar Silva in the SMALL undergraduate mathematics research program and spent the summer of 2012 leading a team of students at the University of Michigan in solving a major open problem. He plans to pursue a Ph.D in mathematics.

The Harry S. Truman Scholarship is awarded to college juniors interested in pursuing professions in public service or the United States government. The College has produced 17 Harry S. Truman Scholars since the scholarship was created in 1975. This year, 62 of the 629 applications were successful, including McGrail’s. Along with the financial award of up to $30,000, scholars receive leadership training, career counseling and selective internship opportunities.

McGrail serves as a Class of 2014 representative to College Council and is a member of the Finance Committee and the Committee on Undergraduate Life. He is also president of the Williams College Democrats and his internship experience includes the Tax Policy Center and Progressive Policy Institute. After graduating from the College next year, McGrail plans to study law. He then hopes to draw upon the network surrounding the scholarship when seeking a public sector career in Washington D.C. McGrail said tax policy has increasingly drawn his political attention.

“My interest in tax policy stems from my time at the Tax Policy Center last summer but more broadly, interest in taxes comes from the realization that tax policy touches everyone’s life and every type of policy,” McGrail said. “Interested in climate change policy? Well, you should be interested in pricing carbon, the most direct form of which would be a carbon tax. So when you’re doing tax policy, what you’re really doing is anti-poverty policy or climate policy.”

The NSF’s research fellowships are awarded to undergraduates to support graduate study in the sciences. The NSF, which awards over 1000 research fellowships every year, is an independent federal agency. Three students will use the fellowships to study psychology: Carouso at Cornell, Labella at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and Perszyk at Northwestern. Wilcox plans to study computer science at Stanford; Turner will attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to study materials research; and Snyder will study environmental sciences at  MIT.

The NSF also recognized Daniel Yudkin ’08, Liyang Shang ’12, Clint Robins ’11, Kath ryn Kirchgasler ’06, Peter Gottlieb ’11, Marian Deuker ’11 and Mary Daub ’11 with honorable mentions.