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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University February 16, 2004 | Vol. 33 No. 22
'USA Today' Honors Three Students for Their Achievements

Two seniors and one junior named in All-USA College Academic Team program

By Phil Sneiderman and Amy Cowles

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 mention.

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 activities.

Wen Shi

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 Marshall scholarships

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.

Seth Townsend

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 research."

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 Hopkins.

After commencement in May, Townsend plans to continue his studies to earn a doctorate in biological engineering.

Athar Malik

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 academic physician.


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