Max Shinn named Churchill Scholar

January 21, 2015

Maxwell Shinn, a senior studying Neuroscience and Mathematics at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, has been named a 2015 Churchill Scholar by the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States. He is the sixth U of M student to receive this prestigious honor.

Shinn — who is enrolled in the College of Biological Sciences, the College of Science and Engineering and the University Honors Program — will reside at Churchill College for the 2015–16 academic year and complete an MPhil in Psychiatry at Cambridge University. He plans to work with Professor Edward Bullmore, who is applying mathematical graph theory to fMRI data to uncover the roots of psychiatric disorders. Shinn hopes that his research will provide a new diagnostic tool that will enable early identification and preventative care for mental illness — something he cares deeply about.

"Mental illness is arguably the most important public health problem in developed countries," said Shinn. "But we still don't understand what is happening in the brain when someone has a psychiatric disorder. I am excited to use mathematics to improve the study and treatment of these very complicated disorders. The possibility of improving lives is what drives me to continue my work."

At the U of M, Shinn has pursued the study of the human mind from a variety of disciplinary perspectives, conducting research with faculty in Psychology, Neuroscience, Mathematics, and Biomedical Engineering. The University offered further support with an Undergraduate Research Opportunities grant, and the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) funded a summer research internship in Germany. As a student at Chaska (Minn.) High School, Shinn developed WriteType, a word processor that helps children with learning difficulties learn to write. For his exceptional drive and achievement, he was awarded an AXA Scholarship given to ten top student leaders in the U.S.

Shinn, the son of Kurt and Jennifer Shinn of Chaska, Minn., was also named a Goldwater Scholar in 2013 and an Astronaut Scholar in 2014.

"The award of the Churchill Scholarship is the culmination of a long line of honors recognizing Max’s many accomplishments during his uniquely impressive undergraduate career at the University of Minnesota," said Serge Rudaz, Director of the University Honors Program. "I am very proud of Max for taking full advantage of the wealth of opportunities offered by the University, and of the faculty and staff who provided him with mentorship and support. I know that he will do wonderfully well at Cambridge.”

About the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States
The Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States was founded in 1959 to offer American students of exceptional ability and achievement in the sciences, engineering, and mathematics the opportunity to pursue graduate studies at Cambridge. Fourteen seniors from the top colleges and research universities in the United States are selected as Churchill Scholars each year, making the $60,000 award one of the most selective and prestigious post-graduate scholarships. Five graduates of the University of Minnesota have previously been named as Churchill Scholars.

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