Updated 2:06 a.m.
Three Harvard undergraduates and a Harvard Medical School student number among the 32 Rhodes Scholars announced today.
Seniors Zachary M. Frankel ’11, Daniel E. Lage ’11, and Baltazar A. Zavala ’11 and first-year Medical School student Aakash K. Shah—all members of the academic honor society Phi Beta Kappa—will spend at least the next year pursuing their research interests at the University of Oxford in England.
The four were selected from more than 800 students nominated by 309 colleges and universities nationwide on the basis of high academic achievement, personal integrity, and leadership potential. With the addition of this year’s recipients, Harvard now boasts a total of 332 Rhodes Scholars.
All four Harvard Rhodes scholars said they felt humbled and grateful to their mentors, citing their professors and House tutors.
“Harvard was extremely supportive. My mentors and professors have really got me excited about solving complex problems,” said Frankel.
“If I could describe this experience in one word, it would be humbling,” Lage said.
Lage, a history and science concentrator from Miami living in Winthrop House, plans to work toward an M.Sc. in comparative social policy. Lage spent a summer studying geriatrics in France where he saw the differences in the healthcare of both countries. Lage, who was a co-director of the volunteer organization the Elderly Affairs Committee, said his passion for geriatrics and social policy stems from his family history.
“My grandfather developed dementia, and I saw health care from the patient’s perspective,” he said. “I realized it’s more than just being a doctor.”
Lage added that he hopes to bridge the issues of health policy and medicine during his time at Oxford.
Shah, who received a bachelor’s in inequality studies, biology, and neuroscience at Ursinus College, also plans to study comparative social policy. He mentions his work in India as one of the most transformative experiences of his life.
“There I realized that a discovery at the lab bench is the first step of a very long process in healthcare delivery,” he said.
Zavala, an engineering sciences and neurobiology concentrator and a varsity football player from El Paso, Texas, plans to obtain a M.Sc. in clinical neuroscience. He has traveled with Engineers Without Borders to the Dominican Republic to work on clean water systems and has conducted research in neuroscience labs at Harvard and in Shanghai.
Zavala, a Kirkland House resident, said he manages to balance all of his interests by “playing them off of each other.”
“If I have a bad day in class, I go to football practice and just let it all out—maybe hit someone a little harder.” After his time at Oxford, Zavala said he plans on attending medical school in hopes of becoming a neurosurgeon.
Frankel, from Brooklyn, a physics and math concentrator living in Quincy House, plans to obtain a D.Phil. in infectious diseases.
Frankel cited his research with the Global Viral Forecasting Initiative Director Nathan D. Wolfe during a semester off as an experience through which he began to consider the application of the disciplines of physics and math to infectious disease.
“It’s so pressing in a variety of areas. There’s a lot of work to be done that’s both interesting and important.”