Marshall Scholars Rooted in Interdisciplinary Scholarship on Energy and Brain Sciences

Duke students at the Summer Neuroscience Program poster session.

Duke University seniors Julie Uchitel and Shomik Verma have received the highly competitive Marshall Scholarship to pursue postgraduate studies in the U.K. Like Duke’s 2019 Rhodes Scholars, they have deep roots in the intellectual communities of Duke’s university-wide interdisciplinary institutes and initiatives.

Julie Uchitel

Julie Uchitel.A double major in Neuroscience and French, Uchitel has many ties to the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS). She serves as president of the Neuroscience Majors’ Union and was the Department of Neuroscience nominee for the Faculty Scholar Award.

Uchitel took part in the 2018 Summer Neuroscience Program, jumpstarting her senior thesis by working one-on-one for eight weeks with her mentor, Mohamad Mikati. A DIBS Faculty Network member, Mikati is the Wilburt C. Davison Professor of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine.

The Summer Neuroscience Program is offered through DIBS and is part of the Bass Connections theme in Brain & Society. Uchitel runs the Duke Summer Neuroscience Program/Neuroscience Majors’ Union Peer Mentoring Program, which creates matches and hosts monthly dinner talks and social events to facilitate bonding.

For her Marshall Scholarship, Uchitel will pursue a research master of philosophy (M.Phil.) in pediatrics at Cambridge, developing an optical imaging technology for newborns at risk for brain injury, and a master’s degree in international child studies at King’s College London.

Shomik Verma

Shomik Verma.Verma has been highly engaged in the Duke University Energy Initiative community throughout his undergraduate education. Majoring in Mechanical Engineering, with minors in Energy Engineering and Mathematics, he has been working on energy research in the Thermodynamics and Sustainable Energy Laboratory with Nico Hotz, Assistant Professor of the Practice in the Department of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science.

Verma has served as co-president and technical lead of the Duke Electric Vehicles team, building a hydrogen fuel cell car and leading a student team to a Guinness World Record for the most fuel-efficient human-carrying vehicle ever built. The team also received top prizes at the 2018 Shell Vehicle Eco-Marathon.

As president of the Duke Energy Club, he worked with the Energy Initiative to create three new assistantships for students to do energy research with faculty. He is co-president of the Duke Smart Home and has been involved with Duke’s Solar Spring Break, in which undergraduates partner with underserved communities to install solar panels.

As a Marshall Scholar, Verma will join the lab of Rachel Evans at Cambridge to develop novel materials that increase the efficiency of solar photovoltaic cells.

Read the related article on the Duke Today website.

Image at top by Ben Shepard: Uchitel (bottom row, third from right) and fellow students at the Summer 2018 poster session for the Summer Neuroscience, Huang Fellows, and Office of Undergraduate Research Support programs

December 6, 2018