Skip to content ↓
MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Congrats Jenn Lai ‘11, Rhodes Scholar by Matt McGann '00

This blog entry does not contain video of Jenn playing "Rhapsody in Blue" with the Boston Pops :(

Today, the Rhodes Trust announced the 32 Americans who have won the 2010 Rhodes Scholarships. The Rhodes Scholarship, described as “the oldest and best known award for international study,” includes among its winners political figures like Bill Clinton, George Stephanopoulos and David Souter; scientists like Edwin Hubble, Robert J. van de Graaff and Brian Greene; journalists like Nicholas Kristof, Michael Kinsley and Walter Isaacson; and MIT Admissions bloggers like Melis ’08.

This year, MIT senior Jennifer Lai ’11 has won the Rhodes Scholarship. This brings MIT’s count to 44 Rhodes Scholars, and 7 in the last four years.

Below, find Jenn’s “official” biography from (links mine):

Jennifer I. Lai, Honolulu, Hawaii, is a senior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she majors in biological engineering, music and theater arts. A pianist at the same professional performance level as students at the finest conservatories, she has a perfect record at MIT in advanced courses across mathematics, physics and engineering. She has done research in the molecular basis of glioblastoma and in the use of engineering tools towards the development of protein therapeutics. Jenn also is active in her sorority and with a support organization for HIV-positive individuals. She plans to do the M.Sc. in integrated immunology at Oxford.

Two stories to share about Jenn:

1. She is a really good pianist. In 2009, she played Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” at Boston’s Symphony Hall with the Boston Pops. (For most people, that would be the accomplishment of a lifetime… Jenn has already topped herself, I guess!) I was so excited when I heard that Jenn was going to play this piece (possibly my favorite piece) with the Pops that I did a lot of legwork to try to get the performance videotaped, so we could show the video to people like you on occasions like this… Sadly, after weeks of efforts, this was the reply I received on May 31, 2009:

the musician’s union rejected our request to tape Jennifer Lai’s portion of the concert

So sad. The best I can do is a photo from the concert:

2. Did you know… Jenn Lai used to be Jen Lai, before MIT? It’s true! Here’s what she wrote on a blog entry I wrote almost 4 years ago:

a while back, i was disappointed to find out that [email protected] was taken cause pretty much everyone knows me as “jen lai” (“jen lai” also happens to be a noodle place at fanueil (sp?) hall– numerous friends who visited boston sent me emails: “omg, there’s this place called jen lai!” with attached photo of the sign. when i visited boston myself, i just had to go take a picture under it.) so i guess i’ll be going with [email protected]. i hope the other jen lai at MIT won’t mistakenly get my email next year. also, i guess i’ll have to start spelling jen with two n’s.

Posted by: jen(n) ’11 on May 9, 2007 11:56 PM

Here’s what Jen Lai (the restaurant) looks like:

Congratulations Jenn!

9 responses to “Congrats Jenn Lai ‘11, Rhodes Scholar”

  1. Hi Mr. Matt! Thank you for your post, and sorry for my egoism
    Matt i got a problem, I have graduated from my high school in 2009 since in post soviet countries such as Russia and Kazakhstan etc. We study only 11 classes/grades, so I am 19 now… I was admitted by medical school in my country, but realized that i don’t want to be a Doctor. After my 2nd semester there I decided to change my major and Applied to Government international scholarship Bolashak(from kazakh “Future generation”)as an Electrical Engineer, I past all the tests. I won it…)
    Now they are sending me to Intensive English language Institute to U of Illinois at Urbana-Ch., but there is still chanse to change it to MIT if MIT has one.
    So it means that I have to miss application to class of 2015 and apply to class of 2016…
    Would it be a “minus” for me?? I mean wouldn’t they consider me as a crazy old man that is crazy for MIT? But honestly I am crazy))
    Thank you Matt…
    my email is [email protected]

    Posted by: Ruslan’15 or even 16′ on November

  2. Matt '00 says:

    @Ruslan: I have answered your question and others in the previous thread.

  3. Emily Z says:

    Awesome job Jen(n)!

  4. rachel '11 says:


    well earned! =)

  5. Cecily says:


  6. Ruslan says:

    @Matt’00, OOps, sorry Matt, also thanks))
    That is motivating me more…))

  7. Vivian '12 says:

    Jenn is awesome! Congrats! smile

  8. Thanks for sharing this Matt! And Congrats to Jenn! I’m glad you could pursue both your passions…hope this means I can be a concert pianist and a scientist as well…

  9. prem says:

    hey matt, i have completed my application part 1, teacher evaluation ,secondary school report;but i could not complete application procedure because of sat tests, which i think i could not be able to complete by jan test date because i will not be able have my passport comleted(i m from india)……….will i be able to apply the next year?will i need to follow all the procedures right from begining the yr 2011…