University of Rochester senior Robert Penna has been awarded the prestigious Churchill Scholarship. This fall, Penna will attend Cambridge University's Churchill College, pursuing a Certificate of Advanced Study in Mathematics—Part III of the Math Tripos, a one-year taught master's course in mathematics.
Only about 10 scholarships are awarded annually to students for graduate study in engineering, mathematics, or science. The scholarship includes $25,000 for tuition and fees, an additional $20,000 for living expenses, and $1,000 for airfare.
Penna, of Eden, N.Y., is pursuing a bachelor of arts with honors in mathematics as well as a bachelor of science degree in physics. In 2002, Penna was named a Goldwater Scholar, which supports outstanding undergraduate students who plan to pursue careers in mathematics, natural sciences, and engineering and is based on academic achievement, prior research experience, scholarly promise, and career goals. He has also co-authored three scientific papers, one which was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research that deals with space weather and coronal mass ejections. Penna is also a member in the Society of Physics Students and the Society of Undergraduate Math Students.
"It is a tremendous honor and I am very humbled to be in such company," Penna said. "I think the award very much reflects how fortunate I am to have the support of my family, friends, and mentors. I look forward to new opportunities and to continue learning new math."
"We've had some extraordinary nominees over the 25 years of our affiliation with the Churchill Foundation, and quite a few Churchill Scholars, but none better on so many levels than Bob Penna," said Suzanne O'Brien, associate dean of undergraduate studies and director of the College Center for Academic Support. "His academic credentials clearly are impeccable, but he is also an engaging, modest, and thoroughly likeable young man. I'm sure he will thrive in Cambridge."
When Penna finishes the master's program, he plans to return to the United States and pursue a doctorate in physics or astrophysics.
The Churchill Foundation, founded in 1959, created the scholarship program to award American students of exceptional ability and outstanding achievement the opportunity to pursue graduate education in England's University of Cambridge. Students must have outstanding achievement in academic work, high scores on the Graduate Record Examination, capacity for original, creative work, and demonstrated concern for the critical problems of society. Other participating institutions include Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, and Cornell universities.