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Johns Hopkins Senior Hannah Joo Wins Churchill Scholarship

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February 21, 2012
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Hannah Joo. Photo by Justin R. Porter.

Hannah Joo. Photo by Justin R. Porter.

Hannah Joo, a Johns Hopkins University senior from Redmond, Wash., has been selected as a Churchill Scholar by the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States. The Churchill Scholarship is awarded to 14 students nationwide who have demonstrated a capacity to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the sciences, engineering, or mathematics by completing original, creative work at an advanced level.

As one of the 2012 Churchill Scholars, Joo will spend the next academic year pursuing a Master of Philosophy at the University of Cambridge in England. The Churchill Foundation will provide full tuition and fees as well as a stipend for living expenses and travel.

Having already completed the required coursework, Joo, 21, will receive her bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences in May before beginning her M.Phil. at Cambridge. She will conduct research in the lab of Angela Roberts, a professor in the Department of Physiology, Development, and Neuroscience, studying emotion regulation in marmosets as a model for human emotion processing. This research will contribute to the development of targeted therapies for anxiety and depressive disorders.

“I feel honored to have been selected as a Churchill scholar and I am very excited to go to Cambridge and work with Dr. Roberts,” Joo said. “My application would not have been possible without the opportunities and support of my professors, my research mentors, and Dr. Kelly Barry in the scholarships office.”

Joo has been involved in research at Johns Hopkins as the winner of one of the university’s Woodrow Wilson Fellowships, which grants undergraduates up to $10,000 to pursue an independent research project over the course of their undergraduate careers. Since May 2009, she has spent all academic breaks working in the lab of Dennis Dacey, a professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, where she investigated the anatomy of retinal cell types and their respective roles in the early stages of visual processing.

Joo is the first author of a paper describing a novel retinal cell type, published in Visual Neuroscience in January 2011, and she is co-author of a manuscript in preparation in the Dacey lab. She has presented her research on the visual system at the Johns Hopkins Neuroscience Research Symposium and at five international conferences.

“Hannah is highly intelligent and can work hard, fast and efficiently and is never distracted,” Dacey wrote in his letter of recommendation for the scholarship. “[She] is someone who continually seeks out the biggest and toughest challenges; she is a tenacious goal-setter who loves to compete and is destined for leadership in her chosen field.”

At Johns Hopkins, Joo has also been working in the lab of Krieger School associate professor Samer Hattar since September 2010. Her research in the Hattar Lab has focused on the anatomy of a specific class of retinal cell that is critical for setting the body’s circadian rhythm. She is co-author of one manuscript in preparation that is the result of a collaborative project between the Dacey and Hattar labs.

“[Hannah has] the passion and drive for science,” Hattar wrote in his letter of recommendation for the scholarship. “In one sentence: She is the total package. She represents the students that make me proud to be a professor at The Johns Hopkins University.”

During her sophomore year, she worked in the lab of assistant professor Marshall Hussain Shuler in the Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, investigating neurological reward systems. In the fall of 2011, she participated in the Johns Hopkins Pre-Professional Advising Office’s clinical tutorial program under the supervision of Dr. Kathryn Wagner, director of the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Center for Genetic Muscle Disorders, a Johns Hopkins affiliate. Joo is a member of the Johns Hopkins Neuroscience Honor Society, Nu Rho Psi, and a mentor for underclassmen in the Woodrow Wilson program. In 2011, she was awarded a Goldwater Scholarship, which recognizes and supports outstanding achievement in science, math, or engineering.

As part of her Woodrow Wilson project, Joo is writing a series of essays mentored by William Evans, a senior lecturer in the Johns Hopkins Expository Writing Program. She has had three articles published in a Johns Hopkins literary magazine, Thoroughfare.

After the conclusion of her Churchill Scholarship, Joo plans to enroll in an M.D./Ph.D. program. She plans to complete her medical specialization in neurology and earn a doctorate in neuroscience. She is the daughter of Leslie R. Schenck and Tae H. Joo, and she graduated from Inglemoor High School in Kenmore, Washington.

Related Websites

The Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States

High resolution photo of Joo is available upon request to acl@jhu.edu.


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