In the Pursuit of Science

March 2, 2016
Sammy Shaker in a lab

Sammy Shaker is ready for his next adventure. He will leave this fall to spend the 2016-17 academic year at Churchill College of Cambridge University, having recently been named a Churchill Scholar by the Winston Churchill Foundation. Only six graduates of the University of Minnesota have received the distinction, including Maxwell Shinn in 2015. Shaker becomes the seventh.

Shaker, a senior in the U's College of Science and Engineering and University Honors Program, plans to work with Cambridge professor Anthony Cheetham, a world leader in the development of hybrid metal-organic materials.

After that … he's not quite sure, but why rush?

After all, he's ahead of the game. Shaker started classes at the U of M at age 13 through the U's Talented Youth Mathematics Program, and spent his final two years of high school completing honors courses in organic chemistry and a graduate course in theoretical neuroscience. He'll graduate this spring with a double major in chemistry and mathematics.

Shaker, son of Mahmoud and Wesam Shaker of Roseville, Minnesota, is one of six children. All five of his siblings have either graduated from or are currently enrolled at the U of M, in fields ranging from microbiology to dentistry, surgery, and obstetrics.

Shaker's own interests are expansive, to say the least, but exploration and creation with an eye toward societal progress are recurring themes.

"The thing about science that I really enjoy," he says, "is not so much the end result—because a lot of times you don't get the end result you want—it's more the fact that you're building something that people can build on."

Inspired by several U of M professors, Shaker is considering someday becoming a professor himself.

If his past success is any indication, it shouldn't be long before he reaches that goal.