Five MIT students — Radha Mastandrea of Westwood, Kathryn O’Nell, Anna Sappington, Kyle Swanson ’18, and Crystal Winston — have been awarded Marshall Scholarships to pursue graduate studies in the United Kingdom. This class represents the largest number of Marshall Scholars from the Institute in a single year, and continues MIT students’ exceptional record of achievement in this elite fellowship program.
Funded by the British government, the Marshall Scholarship provides outstanding young Americans with the opportunity to earn advanced degrees in any academic subject at any university in the United Kingdom. Scholars are chosen through a rigorous national competition that assesses academic merit, leadership, and ambassadorial potential. Approximately 40 Marshall Scholarships are granted each year.
The MIT students were guided by Kimberly Benard, assistant dean of distinguished fellowships within MIT Career Advising and Professional Development, and by the Presidential Committee on Distinguished Fellowships co-chaired by professors Rebecca Saxe and Will Broadhead.
“Working with students like our Marshall Scholars is one of the great pleasures and privileges of teaching at MIT,” said Saxe. “Every year I’m impressed by how hard all of the finalists work to develop and communicate their distinctive vision for the future and their place in it.”
“MIT’s five Marshall Scholars, Radha, Katie, Anna, Kyle and Crystal, are extraordinary; they are intelligent, creative, and dedicated to making a better world,” said MIT Chancellor Cynthia Barnhart. “Together, they make up an eighth of the entire class of 2019 Marshall Scholars, a remarkable accomplishment that would not have been possible without the hard work and passion of these students; the incredible efforts of professors Broadhead and Saxe and the entire Presidential Committee for Distinguished Fellowships; and the staff who work around the clock to support all applicants through this demanding process. We are fortunate that our 2019 Marshall Scholars have such exciting opportunities to look forward to, and that they will be representing the MIT community to the world.”
Mastandrea is an MIT senior double-majoring in physics and mathematics. She is headed to Cambridge, where she will study theoretical and experimental physics before returning to the U.S. to undertake a PhD in high-energy particle physics. She aims for a career in academia as a researcher and an advocate for open data.
As an undergraduate researcher with Professor Jesse Thaler at the MIT Center for Theoretical Physics, Mastandrea has been using machine learning to analyze a trove of open data from the CERN Large Hadron Collider to gain insight on quarks and gluons. Mastandrea has also conducted research on galaxy spectral emission data with Professor Michael McDonald at the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, and neutrinoless double beta decays with Professor Lindley Winslow at the MIT Laboratory for Nuclear Science.
During a summer internship at Caltech, she researched black holes with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory Scientific Collaboration.
Mastandrea is committed to championing women in physics. As president of MIT’s Undergraduate Women in Physics, she has established connections between undergraduates and older role models to showcase women’s accomplishments in the physics field. She has mentored local high school girls by leading physics exploration days on the MIT campus, and she helped write the MIT physics department’s first community values statement to foster a culture of respect and support.
Mastandrea is also co-captain of MIT Bhangra and has taught bhangra dance classes to members of the local community.