Stephanie Lin, an MIT senior who is majoring in biology with a minor in applied international studies, has received a Rhodes Scholarship to study next year at Oxford University. She is one of 32 American recipients selected this weekend by the Rhodes Trust.
A native of Irvine, Calif., Lin joins 44 previous MIT recipients who have won the prestigious international scholarships since they were first awarded to Americans in 1904, according to the Institute’s Distinguished Fellowships office.
Lin will pursue an MPhil in medical anthropology at Oxford. She hopes to become an infectious disease physician and epidemiologist, advising governments on effective health care strategies.
Since her freshman year at MIT, Lin has volunteered with Health Leads Boston, a program whose volunteers work with physicians and other health care providers to meet vulnerable families’ needs. After working to educate underprivileged women on the resources available to them for concerns ranging from unemployment to substandard housing, she has become the organization’s resources coordinator, where she advocates for patients and trains and supervises other volunteers.
For the past two years, Lin has been an active member of the MIT Global Poverty Initiative, a student organization dedicated to fighting poverty. In January, she led a trip to La Vaquita, a rural Mexican village, to assess public health there. Her team found, among other things, that lack of protein variation in villagers’ carbohydrate-rich diets was a key contributor to the area’s particularly high rate of deaths due to diabetes. On a subsequent trip to rural Chiteje de Garabeto, Mexico, she led a small pilot project to diversify residents’ diets by building low-cost greenhouses, in conjunction with a local university and the Peace Corps.
During her freshman year, Lin conducted research at the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, studying the Kaposi’s Sarcoma virus, a cancer virus that commonly infects AIDS patients. She built on that work the following two summers at the Chao Cancer Research Center in California, where she studied the pathways by which a retroviral oncogene induces cancer, and at El Instituto de Investigación Biomédica in Barcelona, where she investigated a model organism for mitochondrial diseases.
On campus, Lin has worked in the laboratory of Assistant Professor of Biology Jeroen Saeij, investigating the parasite Toxoplasma gondii and its causation of disease in immunosuppressed patients. This past summer, she interned with the County of San Diego’s Tuberculosis Control Program, where she assessed and improved on a bi-national effort to facilitate continuity of care for tuberculosis patients who travel between the United States and Mexico.
Lin is vice president for education in her sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta; editor-in-chief of MIT’s literary magazine, Rune; and a fluent speaker of Spanish and Mandarin.
“Stephanie’s outgoing personality and humility render her a joy to meet in any language,” says Linn Hobbs, professor of materials science and nuclear science and engineering and chair of MIT’s Presidential Committee on Distinguished Scholarships. “She is a delightful young woman who never fails to greet with a smile and a kind word. Stephanie’s modesty belies a considerable inner strength, amply demonstrated through her volunteer work with some of the most disadvantaged populations both in the U.S. and abroad.”
“MIT is proud of our remarkable class of Rhodes candidates this year, who have learned and benefited from this selection process,” says Kimberly Benard, assistant director of distinguished fellowships in MIT Global Education & Career Development. “These arduous competitions are journeys of self-discovery for every finalist, each of whom is worthy of celebration.”