04:20 AM

Two Students Named 2016 Churchill Scholars

Two seniors at The Ohio State University, Alexis Crockett and Henry Tran, have been named 2016 Churchill Scholars. The Winston Churchill Foundation awards 15 scholarships annually to graduating seniors and recent graduates demonstrating exceptional academic talent, outstanding personal qualities, and a capacity to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the sciences, engineering or mathematics. The scholarship supports one year of graduate study in a relevant field at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.

Crockett and Tran were selected out of a pool of 91 nominees from 61 institutions. Only 108 institutions are eligible to nominate students for the Churchill, and each participating university may nominate only two students annually. Thus, it is an extraordinary accomplishment for two scholars from the same university to be awarded the scholarship in a given year: this year’s feat is a first in Ohio State’s history. 

Alexis Crockett is a graduating senior from Macedonia, Ohio. An honors student in neuroscience and psychology, she has investigated the effects of the antidepressant ketanserin on chronic neuroinflammation, a potential contributor to Major Depressive Disorder, in the behavioral neuroscience lab of Gary Wenk (Dept. of Psychology; Dept. of Neuroscience). Crockett's previous work in the lab culminated in a poster presentation at the 2014 Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting and co-authorship on two publications in the Journal of Neuroinflammation. Last summer, she conducted research on the neurobiology of depression as a DAAD RISE intern at the Friederich Alexander Universität in Erlangen, Germany. An Eminence Fellow and 2015 Goldwater Scholar, Crockett is active in neuroscience and STEM educational outreach on campus and in the Columbus community, including volunteering at the Columbus Alzheimer Care Center and as an OSU Neuroscience Ambassador. After obtaining a PhD in neuroscience, she will seek a faculty position at a research university in order to study the pathophysiology of depression and contribute to the development of more effective antidepressants. Wenk, Crockett's research adviser, is thrilled with her success, stating, “This award will provide an excellent opportunity for Alexis to advance her knowledge and training in neuroscience. The year at Cambridge, as a Churchill Scholar, will be an important stage in her transition to one of the leading neuroscientists of her generation.”

Henry Tran is a graduating senior from Dublin, Ohio. An honors student in chemistry and mathematics, he is conducting research on Jahn-Teller distortions of the NO3 molecule in the theoretical chemistry lab of Ohio Eminent Scholar Terry Miller (Dept. of Chemistry and Biochemistry). Tran presented his analysis of NO3’s rotational spectrum and structure in oral presentations at the 2014 and 2015 International Symposia on Molecular Spectroscopy and the 2015 International Symposium on Free Radicals. Previously, he conducted theoretical mathematics research in Sergei Chmutov’s Knots and Graphs Working Group (Dept. of Mathematics). Tran was recognized for his research accomplishments by being named a 2015 Goldwater Scholar. He has received a number of grants for his research and academic performance, including the American Chemical Society Junior Chemistry Achievement Award, the Gary Booth Chemistry Scholarship, the Sophomore Organic Chemistry Award and the Goldstein Memorial Mathematics Scholarship. A Morrill Excellence Scholar, Tran serves as an Office of Diversity and Inclusion peer mentor and an Honors peer mentor. After receiving a PhD in theoretical chemistry, he plans to teach and conduct research developing computational methods to understand the electronic structure of important molecules as a professor. Tran's research is advised by Miller, who also attended the University of Cambridge. “Cambridge is not for everyone, but for some students with special talents there is no finer place on earth to receive an education,” says Miller. “Henry is such a student and I’m sure that he will take full advantage of this opportunity.”

At Cambridge, Crockett and Tran will pursue an MPhil in Physiology, Development, and Neuroscience and an MPhil in Scientific Computing, respectively. They are the fifth and sixth Ohio State students to ever be named Churchill Scholars; the university’s previous scholars are engineering physics student Jonathan Timcheck in 2015; computer science student Marc Khoury in 2012; engineering physics student Tyler Merz in 2011; and physics student Lawrence Bigler, Jr., in 1967. In addition, Ohio State has a 1978 Churchill Scholar on the faculty, Robin Wharton in the Department of Molecular Genetics.