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Johns Hopkins alumnus named Mitchell Scholar

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November 28, 2012
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Mark Brennan, of Highland Park, N.J., was recently selected to the 2014 class of George J. Mitchell Scholars. Brennan is one of 12 college seniors and recent graduates chosen for their academic distinction, leadership and service. Recipients spend a year at institutions of higher learning in Ireland and Northern Ireland engaged in post-graduate work.

Brennan will begin his study of mathematical modeling at the University of Limerick in September 2013. In May, he earned bachelor’s degrees in international studies from the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and applied mathematics and statistics from the Whiting School of Engineering. Brennan also minored in environmental studies from the Krieger School.

Brennan is currently in Senegal studying the optimal location of the country’s fish farms. His goal is to understand mathematically how fish farms might improve food security in the interior of the country, while maintaining fish farming as a cost-effective effort. Brennan is conducting his research as the winner of Johns Hopkins’ 2012 Florence “Meg” Long Walsh/Second Decade Society Leadership Award, a fellowship honoring a graduating senior from the Krieger School who has shown leadership qualities at Johns Hopkins or in the community, and who has raised the public profile of the university. The award is for $15,000 toward the completion of a project of original design, conducted in an international venue.

Brennan has also studied the United States’ role in climate change in regard to which greenhouse gas metric is selected by the international community, and has concluded that the choice of metric would not affect U.S. responsibility as dramatically as had been thought. He has presented his findings to the Department of State and later interned in the department’s Office of Environmental Policy. As an undergraduate, Brennan was a co-director of the Foreign Affairs Symposium, an annual lecture series that brings renowned speakers to campus, and was founder and editor-in-chief of the Hopkins Undergraduate Research Journal. For seven years, he spent his summers working with inner-city youth in New Brunswick, N.J. Brennan’s goal as a scholar is to combine mathematical analysis with policy application. He has noted that those with the fewest resources are the most vulnerable to poorly designed systems, be they in health care, crime prevention, food distribution or transportation.

The Mitchell Scholars Program attracted nearly 300 applicants this year from across the United States. Sponsored by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance, the program honors former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell and his pivotal contribution to the Northern Ireland peace process. It is designed to introduce and connect generations of future American leaders to the island of Ireland, while recognizing and fostering intellectual achievement, leadership, and a commitment to community and public service. Up to 12 scholars between the ages of 18 and 30 are chosen annually for one year of postgraduate study in any discipline offered by institutions of higher learning in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Applicants are judged on scholarship, leadership, and a sustained commitment to community and public service. The program provides tuition, accommodations, a living expenses stipend, and an international travel stipend.

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