Phi Beta Kappa Selects ‘Senior 48’ for Class of 2017

Roughly 40 percent of the Class of 2017’s newest inductees to the College’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa study within the division of Science.

Students studying within the Social Science division represented about 30 percent of inductees, compared to about 17 percent who study in the Arts and Humanities division. The School of Engineering and Applied Sciences had the smallest representation, with 15 perecent.

In total, 48 seniors will be inducted into the oldest undergraduate honor society in the United States, joining the 24 students selected last spring.

Phi Beta Kappa annually honors students who have excelled in their academics while balancing a difficulty and diversity of coursework, selected based on transcripts and recommendations from Harvard advisers. The results were announced Monday to seniors in an email from Jeffrey Berg, Harvard’s assistant director of undergraduate research and fellowships.

Benjamin C. G. Lee ’17, a joint Astrophysics and Mathematics concentrator, described his interdisciplinary experience as one that “opened up doors” for him.

“This work is a nice balance of having some mathematical theory behind it, but also being physically grounded in applications toward astro, to work in both fields simultaneously,” Lee said.

Though SEAS saw the fewest PBK inductees, Applied Mathematics had the strongest representation among all concentrations, with five seniors receiving the honor. Christopher H. Rycroft, the department’s director of undergraduate studies, described the concentration’s requirement that students take 14 to 15 courses as “more stringent than most.”

“We do find that people who are drawn to our concentration are often those really willing to drive themselves with a harder course load,” Rycroft said.

Six of the inductees are joint concentrators, whose work combines two independent concentration fields that culminate in the writing of an interdisciplinary thesis. One senior’s studies even stretch across academic divisions.

Maille E. Radford ’17 is completing a joint degree in Chemistry and the History of Art and Architecture. She wrote that she has appreciated her advisers’ support throughout her unique academic experience.

“It has been a challenging endeavor and I could not have done so without their guidance and encouragement,” Radford wrote in an email.

Engineering Sciences concentrator Erin E. Walk ’17 said that she has tried to take classes outside of her primary field for throughout her college career.

“Every semester I’ve taken at least one class, usually two, that is outside of engineering,” Walk, who will receive a secondary in Government, said. “Taking these opportunities to pursue other interests and enjoy the liberal arts experience at Harvard... has been really important as well.”

Walk is one of 10 residents from Pforzheimer House—the House with the most honorees in the “Senior 48.” Eleven of the 12 Houses were represented, Cabot House being the exception. Among the inductees was one Dudley House affiliate.

Kate S. Hoffman ’17, a Social Studies concentrator who is also a Pforzheimer House resident, said she was surprised by the notification and was not expecting to be one of the inductees.

Hoffman said: “I forwarded my mom the email and said something good is happening this week.”

The students will be formally inducted at a ceremony on Dec. 5.

A complete list of the members of the Class of 2017 elected to the “Senior 48” is below:

Giora A. Ashkenazi, Social Studies and Women, Gender and Sexuality (Currier)

Karl M. Aspelund, Environmental Science and Public Policy (Mather)*

Nelson L. Barrette, History (Winthrop)*

Harrison A. Besser, Chemistry (Kirkland)

Julius G. Bright Ross, Integrative Biology (Adams)

Robert S. Chen, Statistics (Lowell)

Isabella Chiu, Special Concentration: Linguistics and Urban Studies (Adams)

Kami Y. Choi, Government and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (Kirkland)

Robert F. Chu, Chemistry (Pforzheimer)

Henry C. Cousins, Molecular and Cellular Biology (Dunster)

Eliza J. Decubellis, Government (Kirkland)

Anne A. Deng, Economics (Leverett)

Serena A. Eggers, Visual and Environmental Studies (Mather)

Denis D. Fedin, Ancient History: Greek and Roman and History (Dunster)

Sophia Q. Feng, History of Art and Architecture (Pforzheimer)

Emily L. Field, Applied Mathematics (Winthrop)

Jessi R. Glueck, English (Mather)

Olivia R. Goldberg, Government (Quincy)

Joshua A. Goldstein, Government (Kirkland)*

Wynne M. Graham, Philosophy (Currier)

Alexandra S. Grimm, English (Leverett)

Meghan P. Hind, Neurobiology (Adams)

Kate S. Hoffman, Social Studies (Pforzheimer)

Jennifer E. Kim, Anthropology (Eliot)

Benjamin C. G. Lee, Astrophysics and Mathematics (Eliot)

Henry W. Lin, Physics and Mathematics (Lowell)

Ashton A.F. Macfarlane, Integrative Biology (Eliot)

Kelly C. McGee, Social Studies (Pforzheimer)

Matthew R. McGill, Neurobiology (Pforzheimer)

Halie A. Olson, Neurobiology (Currier)

Maille E. Radford, Chemistry and History of Art and Architecture (Dunster)

David A. Reading, Statistics (Quincy)

Shawheen J. Rezaei, Economics (Leverett)

Jess A. Rhodes, Integrative Biology (Quincy)

Elizabeth M. Rosenblatt, Applied Mathematics (Lowell)

Pauline R. Ryan, Sociology (Dunster)

Jamasb J. Sayadi, Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology (Dunster)

Maia R. Silber, History and Literature (Eliot)*

Gavin S. Sullivan, History (Lowell)

Anthony Thai, Neurobiology (Pforzheimer)

Lily Y. Tsai, Computer Science (Pforzheimer)

Madhu Vijay, Applied Mathematics (Mather)

Erin E. Walk, Engineering Sciences (Pforzheimer)

Susan X. Wang, Social Studies (Mather)

Benjamin S. Wetherfield, Applied Mathematics (Dudley)

Jeffrey Yan, Mathematics (Pforzheimer)

Stephen S. Yen, Applied Mathematics (Pforzheimer)

Kelly X. Zhang, Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology (Mather)

*Asterisks denote active Crimson editors.

—Staff writer Kenton K. Shimozaki can be reached at kenton.shimozaki@thecrimson.com. Follow him on Twitter @KentonShimozaki.

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