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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University December 8, 2003 | Vol. 33 No. 14
Two From JHU Named Marshall Scholars; Will Study Music Composition, Nanomaterials

By Amy Cowles

Two of the 40 members of this year's class of Marshall Scholarship winners are from Johns Hopkins University — Daniel T. Davis, who is working on a bachelor's degree in music and a master's degree in history, and Sondra L. Hellstrom, who is double majoring in physics and electrical engineering and minoring in math.

Marshall Scholarships are funded by the British government to commemorate the Marshall Plan, the U.S. government program that assisted in the reconstruction of Europe after World War II. The scholarship pays university fees and living expenses, as well as travel to and from the United States.

Both Davis and Hellstrom will apply their scholarships to studying their passions. Davis, 22, hopes to pursue a master's degree in music composition at the Royal Academy of Music. Hellstrom, 20, will pursue a master's degree in the study of nanomaterials at the Imperial College of Science, Medicine and Technology during her first year of study. She will choose to pursue either a master's in technology policy at Cambridge University or a master's degree in optics and photonics from the Imperial College during her second year.

Two years of study abroad promises to be a life-changing experience with its own trials and rewards, Hellstrom said.

Sondra L. Hellstrom is double majoring in physics and electrical engineering and minoring in math.

"The idea of being a Marshall Scholar still seems somewhat unreal; it's the type of award one hears about other people getting," Hellstrom said. "I don't think I will really understand what it means until I get on the airplane next year."

Hellstrom, of Ellicott City, Md., is on course to receive her bachelor's degree in May 2004 with a double major in physics and electrical engineering and a minor in math. In addition to her studies, Hellstrom is dedicated to singing and has performed at the Amalfi Coast Music Festival, with the Johns Hopkins Choral Society and with the Peabody Chamber Singers. She plans to continue her informal study of music while in London, taking advantage of her proximity to cultural events at the Royal Albert Hall and Royal College of Music.

"Sondra's course work record shows outstanding performance in a rigorous program leading to degrees in electrical engineering and physics," said Wilson J. Rugh, Edward J. Schaefer Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Whiting School. "In addition, she has undertaken research projects at Hopkins in the physics of materials, and she has been involved in summer jobs at Brookhaven National Laboratory, Stanford University and IBM Watson Research Laboratory. Her professional accomplishments in research and her breadth of activity are astounding, including leadership roles in student organizations ranging across engineering, physics and music. It is obvious that her talents contribute to campus life in a number of ways."

Daniel Davis is working on a bachelor's in music and a master's in history.

Davis, of Waxhaw, N.C., already holds an undergraduate degree in history from Johns Hopkins. He has served in North Carolina as composer-in-residence at Brightstar Music Festival and is also founder and director of Carolina NewMusic, a free series of summer concerts devoted to contemporary music. In addition to winning numerous prizes, grants and fellowships, he was named to the USA Today All-USA Academic Team in 2002, the first composer to earn a spot on the team in 12 years. His saxophone chamber concerto titled Bridge of San Luis Rey, written for Harlan Parker, conductor of the Peabody Wind Ensemble, and saxophonist Jason McFeaters, was performed by the Peabody Wind Ensemble on Nov. 5. The Peabody Camerata and the Peabody Opera Workshop will present the world premiere of Davis' chamber opera If I Were a Voice in April 2004. The opera follows the lives of the Hutchinsons, a 19th-century family of singers and radical reformers.

Studying in the United Kingdom is a great opportunity for a young composer, Davis said.

"As a composer, I find it extremely important to be exposed to musical artists who will challenge my artistic senses in yet unimaginable ways," Davis said. "British composers have traditionally worked from notably different aesthetic sensibilities than American composers, and, though I most certainly consider myself an 'American-sounding' composer, I am thrilled at the prospects of gaining new perspectives on the art."

In the Krieger School, he works under the guidance of history professor Michael Johnson. At Peabody, Davis studies piano/ accompanying with Nancy Roldan and Eileen Cornett and composition with Christopher Theofanidis, winner of the 2003 Masterprize.

"Daniel has excellent potential as a composer, particularly of dramatic works," Theofanidis wrote in his letter of recommendation for Davis' Marshall Scholarship application. "His writing has taken on a remarkably mature and focused direction in the past three years, owing largely to his genuine curiosity and openness, his critical thinking and, above all, his incredible work ethic. He is the most consistently productive of all my students."

Marshall Scholarships give up to 40 winners each year the opportunity to study at any British university. Recipients must be U.S. citizens no older than 25 with a cumulative grade-point average of 3.70 after freshman year. Besides a letter of endorsement from their university and four other letters of recommendation, applicants must submit by early October an outline of their proposed studies in Great Britain along with a personal essay. After a regional selection committee reviews the applications, candidates are chosen and interviewed by the committee in mid-November.

The university's most recent previous Marshall winner was Lionel D. Foster in 2001. The announcement of this year's pair of Marshall Scholarship winners from Johns Hopkins follows the news that a third senior, 20-year-old biology major Wen Shi of West Bloomfield, Mich., was named a Rhodes Scholar.


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