Two Yellow Jackets Named Churchill Scholars

The Churchill Scholarship selects 18 scholars annually for one year of master’s study at the University of Cambridge.
Churchill Scholars

Velin Kojouharov, a mechanical engineering major, and Shea Rathburn, a 2023 civil engineering graduate, have received a prestigious Churchill Scholarship.

The Churchill Scholarship selects 18 scholars annually for one year of master’s study at the University of Cambridge. Kojouharov received the Churchill Scholarship for science, mathematics, and engineering, and Rathbun received the Kanders Churchill Scholarship for science policy. Churchill Scholars are selected on the basis of academic and research achievement.

About the Scholars

Velin Kojouharov

At the University of Cambridge, Kojouharov will pursue a Master of Philosophy in biological sciences. His long-term goal is to “design biologically inspired robots that can move in complex and dangerous environments.”

His research at Cambridge will focus on the net-winged midge larvae, an insect that lives in fast-flowing streams of the Alps. “By working with both zoologists and engineers, I hope to design a robot, inspired by the larvae, that can crawl around in similar conditions,” he said.

The potential application of this robot includes environmental monitoring and search and rescue in fast-flooding or extreme weather conditions.

Kojouharov expressed his gratitude to Daniel Goldman, Dunn Family Professor in the School of Physics, for his research guidance over the last three years. “He has encouraged me to ask bigger, more interesting research questions.” He also thanked Ph.D. student and mentor Tianyu Wang.

As a Tech student, Kojouharov also received the Stamps President’s Scholarship, Goldwater Scholarship, Astronaut Scholarship, and the ThinkSwiss Research Scholarship.

Shea Rathbun

Rathbun plans to pursue a master of philosophy in public policy at the University of Cambridge, and she’s looking forward to studying in the U.K. to see firsthand how it has worked toward accomplishing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. She also hopes to learn how those practices can be applied in the U.S. Her long-term goal is to “combine engineering and policy to make cities around the world sustainable, equitable, and resilient.”

Rathbun acknowledged the contributions of her mentors, Jennifer Hirsch, senior director of the Center for Sustainable Communities Research and Education, and James Tsai, professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering, in advancing her undergraduate research. Her mentors helped shape her perspective on transportation equity and equitable city planning during her time at Georgia Tech.

At Tech, she also received the Alex G. and Faye Spanos Scholarship and funding from the Joe S. Mundy Global Learning Endowment.


Fellowship Planning

Georgia Tech's pre-graduate and pre-professional advising team aids students in the process of applying for prestigious awards such as the Churchill Scholarship. Awards are available for students as early as their second year. Fellowship advisors work with students each step of the way, identifying opportunities, reading drafts of essays, and arranging mock interviews.

Karen Mura, prestigious fellowships advisor, worked closely with both of this year's Churchill Scholars as they applied for this and other awards.

"Shea and Venny are remarkable students with significant real-world experience that prepares them well to make a global impact throughout their professional life," she said. "I have enjoyed engaging with them as they plan their next steps and noting their personal growth along the way."




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