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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Scholarship Opportunity: Davidson Fellows by Matt McGann '00

A look at a scholarship worth up to $50,000, and some past MIT winners.

Having read MIT applications for a long time now, I know that MIT applicants and students are quite a talented bunch. As such, I try to look out for good opportunities, and when one recently appeared in my inbox, I wanted to share it with you:


Davidson Institute Seeks Extraordinary Achievers to Receive $50,000, $25,000 And $10,000 Davidson Fellow Scholarships

The Davidson Institute for Talent Development is offering high achieving young people across the country the opportunity to be named as 2009 Davidson Fellows, an honor accompanied by a $50,000, $25,000 or $10,000 scholarship in recognition of a significant piece of work in Science, Technology, Mathematics, Music, Literature, Philosophy or Outside the Box.

To be eligible, applicants must be under the age of 18 as of Oct. 1, 2009, and a U.S. citizen or permanent U.S. resident residing in the United States. There is no minimum age for eligibility. The deadline to apply is March 4, 2009. Applicants must submit an original piece of work recognized by experts in the field as significant and it must have the potential to make a positive contribution to society. The scholarship must be used at an accredited institute of learning. For more information on the Davidson Fellows scholarship, or to download an application, please visit

The winners in past years have ranged in age from 6 to 17, and have written, composed, invented, and discovered some pretty amazing things.

A number of past winners are now MIT students or alumni, including:

Graham Van Schaik ’12
A 16-year-old young man from Columbia, South Carolina, Graham Van Schaik researched pyrethroids, chemicals found in common household and agricultural pesticides. More than 30 commercial crops are treated with pyrethroids and they have been found in meats, seeds and baby food. Graham determined the residual amounts of pyrethroids found in tomatoes and possible inhalation when used in a home environment. By extrapolating human consumption and inhalation, he found pyrethroids were retained in both cases and promoted statistically significant cellular proliferation in human breast cells, a sign of cancer, and significant neurite retraction in neurons, a sign of neurodegenerative diseases.

Nimish Ramanlal ’10
A 16-year-old young man from Winter Springs, Florida, Nimish Ramanlal studied quantum computing, a computer that performs multiple computations simultaneously and exponentially faster than a conventional computer. Currently quantum computer limitations include both the lack of standardized programming and a generalized methodology for arbitrary search algorithms. Nimish overcame these limitations by developing a von Neumann-type architecture for writing algorithms. His findings could lead to the advancement of quantum computing, which could aid scientists in a number of fields such as advanced physics, medical research and nanotechnology.

Boris Alexeev ’08
A 17-year-old young man from Athens, Georgia, Boris Alexeev proved a theorem related to the theory of automata, the mathematical basis for the field of pattern matching. Boris worked to determine the easiest way to test divisibility by a number using automata. By studying the minimization of automata, programs can be simplified, thereby allowing them to use less memory and operate faster. Boris’ findings can be utilized in a range of fields, such as DNA research and computer science.

Jamie Rubin ’07
Jamie conducted in-depth research into treating infections caused by the Candida albicans fungus with a combinatorial approach, cutting the time needed for future research from several years to less than a week. Jamie’s research, outlined in her project “Characterization of the Secreted Aspartic Proteinases of C. albicans Using a Combinatorial Approach,” could improve the quality of life for millions with compromised immune systems, including cancer, HIV and AIDS patients.

Daniel Kane ’07
Daniel explored the theory of partitions, a branch of additive number theory, and proved a conjecture posed by national experts in the field. Daniel’s work, titled “Two Papers on the Theory of Partitions,” makes a significant advancement in number theory with far-reaching applications in many other areas of mathematics, including the fields of coding theory, representation theory and algebraic geometry.

This is a great opportunity; I hope many of you will consider applying!

17 responses to “Scholarship Opportunity: Davidson Fellows”

  1. anon says:

    lol graham.

    I also enjoy that the majority of the people pictured are male.

  2. hawk says:

    mmm tomatoes

  3. Boris says:

    My paper was published in the Journal of Computer and System Sciences. The preprint (which only differs marginally) is available on the arXiv.

    One of Dani’s papers was published in the Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society. The other was published in the Ramanujan Journal. Both papers are available on his Harvard webpage (or even his old MIT webpage).

    You can find my paper and one of Dani’s with a search on Google Scholar. You can find citations for all of Dani’s papers on his Wikipedia page. Academics often publish things on their webpages (which you can find via Google). Physicists, mathematicians, and computer scientists often publish preprints on the arXiv.

  4. Shamarah says:

    I was all set to apply for this and send in my paper… and then I realized I was too old. :(

  5. tokenadult says:

    Congratulations to the Davidson Fellows who are now at the Institute. I’ve not had the privilege of meeting any of the young people mentioned above, but I have met some Davidson Fellows at conferences and they are very interesting young people. Not everyone has to get a stellar award like that to end up at MIT, but it’s nice to know that the students who do get admitted have the company of classmates with some rather amazing accomplishments.

    Keep up the good work. Good luck to this year’s applicants to the Davidson Fellowship program and this year’s applicants to MIT.

  6. wisdom says:

    These students have done excellent work, sounds like a great scholarship opportunity.

  7. Vivi '12 says:

    Same here, Sham; pity I hadn’t heard of this scholarship earlier =/

    Back to scouring the web for scholarship opportunities…

  8. Mgccl says:

    nvm about what I said.
    I was having a hard time finding stuff on Google.
    Should use Google Scholar more often.

  9. Mgccl says:

    The procedure with young people does amazing results:
    1. They work their ass off to do something amazing.
    2. They get judged by judges.
    3. They get awards
    4. Their work never gets published or at least more publicized in the academia.

    The 4th one is a problem.

    I tried to find Boris Alexeev and Daniel Kane’s paper on those featured topics.

    I personally requested a paper from a Intel Science Talent Search Finalist because her work wasn’t published in any journals and I found the work very interesting.

    It’s sad to know that someone have done something that I care to know, and people who want to know about the work will never find it out.


  10. Shamarah says:

    It was a sad day, Vivi. But you’re right, there are way more opportunities for money and we just need to be diligent in the search.

    On a lighter note – I went to high school with Nimish ’10! Nice guy! smile

  11. clara says:

    Well there sure are a lot of males… But im sure females will start increasing. Im working on it . I will be one.

  12. Hi,

    Could u please post a blog on scholarships and other fin. aids for students who aren’t citizens of the US?

  13. April '12 says:

    What a trip. I read the description of the scholarship and thought about what I have done that could qualify. By the time I got to the introduction for the past winners, I realized it was my work in the labs doing work on…. pyrethroids.

    then i kept reading.



  16. herry says:

    please send to me all about scholarships and how to get it and please enter your commentsa about scholarsips conditions experiences.

  17. Diane says:

    This year’s recipients of the davidson fellowship were just announced and their work is equally amazing. I wonder how many will end up at MIT. At least two of them have had their work published in scientific journals already. One is the sole author of his work.