Three Harvard College seniors were among the 40 winners of the 2023 Marshall Scholarship. The recipients, whose studies cover engineering sciences, chemical and physical biology, and government, will head to the United Kingdom next year for two years of graduate studies.
Will pursue graduate degrees at universities in the U.K.
Concentration: Aerospace and Robotics, Engineering Sciences
As a first-generation college student, Kim is determined to make an impact in both the local and global communities.
“I feel really grateful to be given this opportunity, and I’m really glad that there are a few familiar faces here and they’re going into this journey with me,” said Kim, who hopes her achievement encourages future first-gen students to apply for scholarships, fellowships, and grad school. “One of the main reasons why I really wanted to apply to this opportunity was because I wanted to see more individuals like me be represented in these types of fellowships and scholarships.”
In the fall, Kim plans to pursue an M.Phil. in advanced computer science with a focus on machine learning and machine intelligence at the University of Cambridge. Her love and interest in the aerospace industry was fueled by her time at Harvard, where the 21-year-old is an active member of the Harvard Satellite Team as chief engineer. Her time with the club and a course on multi-robot systems with School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Assistant Professor Stephanie Gil led Kim to further research multi-robot systems and satellite constellations in the aerospace field.
Kim has worked extensively at SpaceX, Kayhan Space, and MITRE. She also continued to build upon her interests in robotics and computer science while conducting research at the Harvard Microrobotics Lab and at Stanford Intelligent Systems Laboratory.
Concentration: Joint in Chemical and Physical Biology, and Statistics
Being named a Marshall Scholar gives Shah the opportunity to fulfill his parents’ wishes. The 21-year-old said his immigrant parents from India did not know too much about the prestigious scholarship, but were excited for him after learning its history and what the prize meant. “They’ve always told me that visiting another country or living in another country would be a great experience,” Shah said. He also credited his friends for playing an integral role in helping him prepare for the interviews.
Studying chemical and physical biology and statistics at Harvard informed what Shah wants to pursue in the U.K. He intends to study computational biology at the University of Cambridge during his first year, and stem cell biology at King’s College London during his second. Eventually, Shah said he hopes to become a physician scientist.
When he’s not studying, the Lowell House resident has been deeply involved with Dharma, Harvard’s Hindu Students Association. Although he is not Hindu, Shah said he found an inclusive community in Dharma that allowed him to explore his Jain faith. He’s also served as a teaching assistant in two courses and hopes to pursue that further in the U.K.
Concentration: Government, with a secondary in Statistics
Like his two classmates, Vainikos learned he was a Marshall Scholar in November and was asked to keep the news a secret for a month. While he found it difficult to evade questions about his future, Vainikos said it has been a joy to be able to share the news now. “I’m excited about the opportunity and going out to the U.K. for pretty much my first study-abroad experience,” he said.
Vainikos’ planned studies in London have been equally influenced by what he does inside and outside of the classroom. The government concentrator has spent most of his time at Harvard working at the Institute of Politics, working with the Harvard Political Union. The 21-year-old recently helped plan a conference featuring newly elected members of Congress.
In the U.K., he intends to continue those pursuits by working toward an M.A. degree in war studies from King’s College London and a degree in innovation economics from University College London. At King’s College, Vainikos will dive in more deeply into the security studies subfield of government and learn about national security strategy. At UCL he will look at government policies on innovation and how states compete.
The Marshall Scholarship was established by an Act of British Parliament in 1953 in recognition of former U.S. Secretary of State Gen. George Marshall and the United States for its assistance under the Marshall Plan. This year, 32 American universities were represented among the 951 applications received.