Christopher Cooper, a senior majoring in chemical engineering and economics at North Carolina State University, has been awarded a prestigious 2017 Churchill Scholarship.
The Virginia Beach, Va. native will use the merit-based award – which covers all university and college fees, cost-of-living expenses, travel to and from the United Kingdom and other reimbursement of application fees – to pursue a one-year master’s degree in chemical engineering and biotechnology in Churchill College at the University of Cambridge beginning in fall 2017.
Chris is NC State’s second Churchill Scholarship recipient and is one of 15 recipients of the award this year. Mithi “Mia” de los Reyes became NC State’s first Churchill Scholarship recipient in 2016. A little more than 100 U.S. institutions are invited to nominate up to two applicants for the Churchill Scholarship.
“I am excited to grow as a researcher and to travel,” said Chris. “I have never been to the UK so I am looking forward to exploring Cambridge and the surrounding cities and natural environment.”
Chris, 21, came to NC State on its prestigious Park Scholarship, a four-year merit award which selects students based on outstanding accomplishments and potential in scholarship, leadership, service, and character. He is also in the university’s Benjamin Franklin Scholar program, which allows students who are driven, like Franklin, towards “a deep curiosity and a passion for problem-solving” to couple engineering studies with the social sciences or humanities. He was elected to Phi Beta Kappa as a junior and Tau Beta Pi as a sophomore, is part of the University Scholars Program, and is Vice-President of Outreach for the campus chapter of Beta Theta Pi fraternity. Chris is one of NC State’s two 2016 Goldwater Scholarship recipients, and he was a Marshall Scholarships Finalist in fall 2016.
Chris has been a researcher since his sophomore year in the lab of chemical and biomolecular engineering professor Michael Dickey, where Chris creates soft electronic devices like tiny liquid-metal fibers that can be used as sensors.
In addition to studying chemical engineering in France and sustainable systems in New Zealand, Chris served as lead advisor and helped raise over $200,000 for the Krispy Kreme Challenge, a five-mile run that benefits the North Carolina Children’s Hospital.
At Cambridge, Chris plans to work on dye-sensitized solar cells, with guidance from professor Jacqueline Cole of the Cavendish Laboratory. Afterwards, he plans to get his doctoral degree in chemical engineering, obtain a university professorship and create energy-harvesting devices.
Tiffany Kershner, adjunct teaching assistant professor of anthropology and director of NC State’s Fellowship Advising Office, describes Chris as “a remarkable young man who combines a high level of intellectual achievement with outstanding leadership potential in chemical engineering and solar cell research.” She praised the contributions of the 2016-17 NC State UK Scholarships campus selection committee, which evaluated applications for the Churchill, Marshall, Mitchell, and Rhodes Scholarships:
Richard L. Blanton, Plant & Microbial Biology (chair)
Veronica Augustyn, Materials Science & Engineering
Agnes Bolonyai, English
Edward Grant, Electrical & Computer Engineering
Michael Hyman, Plant & Microbial Biology
Alun Lloyd, Mathematics
Nancy Mitchell, History
Andy Stringer, Population Health and Pathobiology
The Churchill Scholarship provides funding to American students and alumni from the previous academic year for a year of master’s study in science, mathematics and engineering at Churchill College, based at the University of Cambridge. The scholarship, first awarded in 1963, was set up at the request of Sir Winston Churchill in order to fulfil his vision of U.S.-U.K. scientific exchange with the goal of advancing science and technology on both sides of the Atlantic, helping to ensure our future prosperity and security. It is administered by the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States.
The Fellowship Advising Office (FAO) helps NC State’s undergraduate students, graduate students, and alums learn of and apply for nationally competitive and prestigious awards. These awards fund a wide range of opportunities, and many are connected to undergraduate and graduate degree programs or internships, overseas opportunities, and independent projects.