Penn alum named 2024 Churchill Scholar 

Xander Uyttendaele, a 2023 graduate, is among 16 selected nationwide to receive the scholarship.

A May graduate of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Xander Uyttendaele is among 16 students or recent graduates selected nationwide as 2024 Churchill Scholars. (Image: Courtesy of the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships)

A 2023 graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, Xander Uyttendaele has been awarded a Churchill Scholarship for a year of graduate research study at the University of Cambridge in England.

Uyttendaele, from Seattle, is among 16 students or recent graduates selected nationwide who will receive full funding for a one-year master’s degree at Churchill College at Cambridge. He plans to pursue a master’s degree (MASt) in applied mathematics.

The scholarship is considered one of the most prestigious and competitive international fellowships available to American students planning graduate study in the United Kingdom. Churchill Scholars are chosen from select U.S. universities in the disciplines of science, mathematics, and engineering.

Penn has had 15 Churchill Scholars since the program’s inception in 1963, including eight in the past eight years. Penn leads the nation in producing Churchill Scholars since 2017, according to the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships, which assisted Uyttendaele in his application.

Uyttendaele graduated summa cum laude in May with majors in physics and computer science. At Penn, he was a teaching assistant for the late professor Max Mintz’s quantum computing course. He also worked with professor Dan Roth in the Cognitive Computation Group to help develop the Penn Information Pollution Project, an automated online platform focused on combating misinformation related to COVID-19.

A member of Eta Kappa Nu, the electrical and computer engineering honor society, Uyttendaele was selected by the faculty of the Computer and Information Science Department to their Teaching Assistant Hall of Fame for “extraordinary contributions to the department’s teaching mission.” He also was chosen to receive Penn Engineering’s 2023 Ben and Bertha Gomberg Kirsch Prize in recognition of his “scholastic achievement, originality, innovation, and intellectual maturity.” In addition, he was a singer with the student a cappella group Off the Beat.

To better understand the impact of climate change on glaciers, Uyttendaele spent the summer of 2022 on the Juneau Icefield in southeast Alaska, working with the Juneau Icefield Research Program, where he conducted fieldwork and analyzed data on the Lemon Creek, Taku, and Gilkey glaciers. He was also previously a research assistant with professor Silas Beane at the University of Washington’s Institute for Nuclear Theory.

After completing his master’s degree at Cambridge, Uyttendaele plans to return to the U.S. and pursue a Ph.D. in physics.