Johns Hopkins Senior Wins Churchill Scholarship

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Jan. 28, 2014
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MEDIA CONTACT: Jill Rosen
Office: 443-997-9906
Cell: 443-547-8805

Malinda McPherson, a Johns Hopkins University senior from Belmont, Mass., has won a scholarship from the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States.

The Churchill Scholarship is awarded annually to at least 14 students who have demonstrated a capacity to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the sciences, engineering or mathematics by completing original, creative work at an advanced level.

McPherson, who is majoring in cognitive science and minoring music and hopes to become a neuroscience research professor studying music’s affect on the brain, She will use her award to further her studies at the University of Cambridge.

For the last two years McPherson has explored music cognition in the lab of Charles J. Limb, an associate professor of otolaryngology in the university’s School of Medicine. There she has developed an experiment to study brain activity during emotionally targeted jazz improvisation.

“Malinda is truly exceptional in every regard — she is a scholar, scientist and musician who excels in all three,” Limb said. “I look forward to seeing the remarkable contributions that she will undoubtedly make to the field of music cognition. Most importantly, she is one of the most genuine, kindest students that I have ever had the pleasure to mentor, and I’m grateful to have had the chance to work with her.”

At Cambridge, where she expects to complete a Master of Philosophy at the Centre for Music and Science, McPherson plans to study rhythmic entrainment, a person’s ability to match their actions to an external beat – like clapping to a song.

“In addition to living in another country and learning about another culture, I’m excited to be at one of the few centers in the world that is really trying to bridge the gap between music and the sciences,” she said. “This program is a perfect fit for me.”

McPherson, who was introduced to the piano at age 5 and has played viola since she was 8, plays viola with the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra. She considers music her lifelong passion and her work in cognitive science a way to understand it on a deeper level.

While at Johns Hopkins, she has also worked as a rock-climbing instructor with the university’s Outdoor Pursuits program and has volunteered with Creating Responsibility in Adolescent Sexual Health, a student organization that leads sexual health classes for young people incarcerated in Baltimore.

“I am honored to have been selected as a Churchill Scholar,” McPherson said. “This would have never been possible without the encouragement of my professors and mentors at Hopkins, who have helped me pursue my interests in cognitive science and music, as well as the support of Kelly Barry, the director of fellowships and scholarships at Johns Hopkins, who guided me through the application process.”

The Winston Churchill Foundation was established in 1959, the same year that Churchill College at the University of Cambridge was established as the national and Commonwealth tribute to Sir Winston Churchill. The first three Churchill Scholarships were given in 1963.

The one-year Churchill Scholarship pays all university and college fees (ranging from $33,500 to $37,600), a living allowance (ranging from $17,700 to $21,000), transportation to and from the United Kingdom (up to $1,100), student visa expenses ($500), a travel award of $500, and a possible special research grant up to $2,000.  Depending on the field of study, the scholarship is worth $57,000 to $63,600.

For more information, please contact Jill Rosen at 443-997-9906 (office), 443-547-8805 (cell) or jrosen@jhu.edu.

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