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Sammy Shaker wins prestigious science scholarship to Cambridge University

Sammy Shaker, a senior in the College of Science and Engineering and University Honors Program at the University of Minnesota, has been named a Churchill Scholar by the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States. A double major in chemistry and mathematics, Shaker will spend the 2016-17 academic year at Churchill College of Cambridge University, where he will complete a Master of Philosophy in materials science. He plans to work with Professor Anthony Cheetham, a world leader in the development of hybrid metal-organic materials.

Shaker started classes at the University of Minnesota as a 13-year-old in the Talented Youth Mathematics Program (UMTYMP), and spent his final two years of high school as a Post-Secondary Education Options student, completing honors courses in organic chemistry and a graduate course in theoretical neuroscience. Two years later, he spent the summer modeling neural networks with mathematics professor Duane Nykamp and initiated a project to create a novel error-correcting code with his UMTYMP instructor David Clark. He also began working with chemistry professor Andreas Stein, who has mentored him for four years through advanced research projects synthesizing porous and nanostructured materials.

Shaker has previously been awarded a Bentson Scholarship by the University of Minnesota, and has won national recognition as a Goldwater Scholar and an Astronaut Scholar. On campus, he has been a leader in the Muslim Student Organization and the Al-Madinah Cultural Center. In the Twin Cities community, he has worked as a research associate in the emergency department of Hennepin County Medical Center, and he has initiated a kidney disease screening and awareness program that works with underserved populations in Minnesota.

Shaker is the son of Mahmoud and Wesam Shaker of Roseville, MN.

Winston Churchill Foundation

The Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States was founded in 1959 to offer American students of exceptional ability and achievement in the sciences, engineering, and mathematics the opportunity to pursue graduate studies at Cambridge. Fifteen seniors from the top colleges and research universities in the United States are selected as Churchill Scholars each year, making the award, worth about $60,000, one of the most selective and prestigious post-graduate scholarships. Six graduates of the University of Minnesota have previously been named as Churchill Scholars, including Maxwell Shinn in 2015.

Information on scholarships and awards

Students at the University of Minnesota who are interested in the Churchill Scholarships or other major competitive awards should contact Timothy Jones in the Office of National and International Scholarships at or 612-624-0399.

Story and photos courtesy of Timothy Jones, Office of National and International Scholarships,, 612-624-0399, and the University Honors Program.