Singling out students for their outstanding academic
skills and leadership qualities, USA Today last week
recognized three Johns Hopkins undergraduates in the
newspaper's 2004 All-USA College Academic Team program.
Two seniors, Wen Shi and Seth Townsend,
were named to the program's Second Team. In addition,
Athar Malik, a junior, received an honorable
The competition for these honors was tough. The
newspaper said its judging panels evaluated approximately
600 nominees with at least sophomore standing from
four-year institutions nationwide. From this pool, the
judges selected only 20 students each for the First, Second
and Third teams, plus 22 honorable mentions.
Hopkins students have often received recognition in
this elite evaluation. Including the 2004 recipients, 21
Johns Hopkins students have been honored by USA
Today during the past 13 years.
This year's All-USA team members from Hopkins again
were distinguished by their stellar achievements in their
classrooms and campus labs as well as their extracurricular
For Shi, a 20-year-old biology major from West
Bloomfield, Mich., the USA Today recognition arrived on the
heels of another high-profile honor. In November, Shi was
named a Rhodes Scholar.
"It's a very competitive process, and it's an honor to
make the Second Team," Shi said of the USA Today
recognition. "It's a prestigious award and not limited to
seniors who want to study at specific schools," a
requirement for candidates for awards such as the Rhodes or
He added, "In the past, the First Team winners have
come up with some phenomenal stuff."
Shi was born and raised in China, where he grew up in
the home of his grandparents. In April 1999, at the age of
15, he immigrated to the United States to join his father.
Shi enrolled in English as a second language courses, and
by his senior year at Andover High School in Bloomfield
Hills, Mich., he was taking Advanced Placement English.
Today, he helps other immigrants learn the language.
With his Rhodes scholarship, he plans to conduct
cancer research at Oxford University's Weatherall Institute
of Molecular Medicine, examining the role of hypoxia
inducible factors in endothelial and cancer cell biology.
He hopes his research will lead to ways to make cancer a
manageable disease like high blood pressure. Shi will study
toward a doctorate in medical oncology.
Townsend, the university's other Second Team member,
is a 22-year-old biomedical engineering major. "I was very
grateful to be able to represent Hopkins for this award,"
he said. "It's a great honor to be selected."
Townsend graduated in 2000 from Skaneateles High
School in his hometown of Skaneateles, N.Y. "I'd never had
any research experience before coming to Hopkins," he said.
"I feel like I've developed the skills and passion here to
continue that work. My faculty advisers, Artin Shoukas and
Dan Berkowitz, have been good about giving me the right
balance of guidance and independence while working on my
This research included studies of changes that occur
to the cardiovascular system during aging and when
astronauts spend time in outer space. Townsend is also
leading a team of 10 undergraduate biomedical engineering
students who are designing a real-time urinalysis system to
detect the onset of acute renal failure, a device that may
someday save lives.
Outside the classroom, Townsend has served as a tutor
and organizer in a program that matches Hopkins
undergraduates with local elementary school students who
need help learning math and with reading. He also serves as
assistant captain of the men's ice hockey team at
After commencement in May, Townsend plans to continue
his studies to earn a doctorate in biological
Malik, the Honorable Mention recipient in the USA
Today program, is a 20-year-old biomedical engineering
major from Novi, Mich. "It was a tremendous honor to be
among this select group of students," Malik said.
Malik was co-valedictorian of the Class of 2001 at
Grand Blanc High School in Michigan.
At Hopkins, he has conducted research related to
biomaterials and tissue engineering in the laboratory of
Jennifer Elisseeff. He has collaborated with Elisseeff and
others on two research papers that have been published in
scholarly journals and a third that is under review.
Outside the lab, Malik serves as a resident adviser in
the university's Homewood Apartments; is actively involved
in his religious community and youth group; volunteers at
the Shepherd's clinic, which provides primary care for the
uninsured; and is president of Johns Hopkins Student
Pugwash, an organization that aims to promote social
responsibility in the application of science and
technology. He also serves on the board of directors of the
national organization Student Pugwash USA.
Malik's goal is a medical research career as an