2016 Scholars S-Z

Kelly Schutt
US University: Boise State University

Kelly Schutt will graduate from Boise State University with a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering and a minor in Computer Science. Prior to college, he helped start a Google Partner Company that used analytics to drive online sales. His research experience includes DNA nanotechnology and perovskite solar cells. Outside of the lab, Kelly enjoys science outreach for K-12 students and the broader public. He plans to pursue a Doctor of Philosophy in New and Sustainable Photovoltaics at the University of Oxford. He hopes to contribute to the commercialization of innovative and economical materials for sustainable energy.

Jordan Thomas
US University: Kansas State University

Jordan Thomas will graduate with an Honors degree in anthropology from Kansas State University. Focusing on the social effects of food systems, he has conducted field research in the inner city, Latin America, and Native American communities. In addition to research, Jordan rode a bicycle to South America, coordinates a bicycle sharing program, serves as vice president of his university’s International Development club, and co-founded an award-winning edible insect business. As a Marshall Scholar, he will pursue an MSc in Sustainability, Culture and Development at Durham University and an MRes in Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge.

Benjamin Van Doren
US University: Cornell University

Benjamin Van Doren, from White Plains, New York, will graduate from Cornell University with a double major in biology and statistics. Benjamin became interested in ornithology as a child and won fifth place at the 2012 Intel Science Talent Search. As a Goldwater Scholar and Rawlings Cornell Research Scholar, he has primarily studied bird migration on large scales; other research ventures include an expedition to eastern Panama and an honors thesis in comparative genomics. At the University of Oxford, Benjamin will pursue the DPhil in Zoology, studying the genomics and evolution of avian migration.

Phong Vo
US University: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Born and raised in Hồ Chí Minh, Việt Nam, and residing in York, Pennsylvania, Võ Tiến Phong is studying physics and mathematics at MIT. Phong’s current research interest is in condensed matter physics, a field in which he has worked on graphene theory, quantum tunneling, superconductivity, and quasicrystals. Outside of the classroom, Phong serves as president of the MIT Buddhist Students Club to promote the Buddhist virtues of mindfulness and compassion. He is also leading a network of Gates Millennium Scholars on the MIT campus. When not busy playing with equations himself, Phong loves sharing what he knows with others through teaching and mentoring, and has taught to varying audiences from middle school students to his MIT colleagues. Phong aspires to become a professor in theoretical physics who also works to improve science education globally.

James Williams
US University: University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill

Massachusetts native James Williams is a Morehead-Cain Scholar at the University of North Carolina majoring in economics and Asian studies with a minor in statistics. Having studied, volunteered, and worked in China, James speaks fluent Mandarin and won a national Mandarin public speaking and talent competition for his original stand-up comedy routine. James has conducted research on Sino-Africa relations, taught a university course on the subject, and directed a global conference about Chinese and American grand strategies in Africa and Asia. While in England, James will study economic development and Chinese politics to better understand China’s impact in developing countries.