Meet NC State’s Newest Churchill Scholar

During her time at NC State, Ana Sofia Uzsoy has stepped outdoors the boundaries of her consolation zone over and over, whether or not it’s attempting new meals, beginning a exercise routine, taking a contemporary dance class with no prior expertise, or interning at NASA and Google.

This 12 months brings her largest and most enjoyable step but, as she leaves Raleigh to start her graduate research at Cambridge University as NC State’s third-ever Churchill Scholar.

With the award, Uzsoy, a computer science and physics main and Park Scholar, will research machine studying and machine intelligence this fall at one of many United Kingdom’s — and the world’s — prime universities.

In true pandemic-era vogue, Uzsoy was on a Zoom name when she acquired the e-mail notification about her award.

“I didn’t think I would get the award, so I couldn’t believe it when I read the email,” she mentioned. “It’s really, really exciting.”

The Churchill Scholarship was arrange on the request of Sir Winston Churchill to satisfy his imaginative and prescient of scientific alternate between the U.S. and the U.Ok. with the purpose of advancing science and know-how on either side of the Atlantic, serving to to make sure our future prosperity and safety. Uzsoy was one in every of solely 17 recipients this 12 months of the scholarship, which covers full tuition, a stipend, journey prices and the prospect to use for a particular analysis grant.

Diving Deep

Machine studying, or serving to computer systems study from information in order that they’ll finally make unbiased choices, appeals to Uzsoy as a result of she loves to know what’s beneath the floor.

“I’ve always been interested in how things work, especially on a mathematical scale,” Uzsoy mentioned. “I think I like physics so much because it helps me understand the world around me.”

Uzsoy, who additionally gained a Goldwater Scholarship in 2019, appreciates the various potential functions of machine studying. While interning at NASA in 2019, she labored on a staff that used machine studying to detect cloud interference with an experiment on the International Space Station that measures aerosols within the Earth’s environment. And final summer time, whereas interning at Google, she created machine studying fashions that generated new textual content primarily based on different texts they had been fed to study from.

In her research at Cambridge — and later, as she pursues a Ph.D. — she hopes to mix machine studying with one other of her passions, astrophysics. “A lot of data comes in from telescopes, and machine learning can help parse the data and find anomalies that humans might not be able to notice, leading to discoveries like new exoplanets,” Uzsoy mentioned.

Since the primary semester of her freshman 12 months, she’s been feeding her ardour for studying as a researcher within the lab of Mary Elting, an assistant professor of physics who, like Uzsoy, was additionally as soon as a Park Scholar. This hands-on expertise has confirmed invaluable.

“NC State has so many opportunities for undergraduate research,” Uzsoy mentioned. “Being able to get involved with research so early has been really critical to my learning and preparing me to apply for competitive scholarships.”

Her fervor for studying has additionally led her to extra creative pursuits, together with a minor in oboe efficiency. She began enjoying in highschool and have become fascinated with music rapidly. At NC State, she has performed in a number of campus music teams, together with a small chamber group that when opened for the North Carolina Symphony.

“It’s a good escape from my classes, but it also takes a lot of work and practice,” Uzsoy mentioned. “I enjoy getting really deep into a topic, and once I’m interested in something, I give it 110%.”

A Foundation for the Future

As she seems to be towards her commencement in May, Uzsoy is grateful for her expertise at NC State and the individuals who have formed her time right here. These embrace her college mentors and the employees within the University Fellowships Office, all of whom helped her navigate the complicated Churchill utility course of.

“So many people have dedicated so much time and effort to my success, and I don’t know that I would have gotten that level of support somewhere else,” she mentioned.

This help began earlier than she even arrived at NC State, because of her Park Scholarship.

“The Park program has given me so much,” Uzsoy mentioned. “Just not having to worry about the financial aspect of things has allowed me to devote all my time to developing myself and finding my career path.”

She’s additionally loved the neighborhood of her friends within the Women in Physics membership, which she’s president of this 12 months. “We’ve been online this academic year, but we’ve still been able to have weekly game sessions and bring in successful women who studied physics to speak to us about their journeys,” Uzsoy mentioned. “It helps to have a supportive community of women who can normalize some of the feelings like imposter syndrome and other stress that women in STEM fields can face.”

Armed with many new discoveries concerning the world and herself, Uzsoy is able to begin a brand new journey throughout the pond.

“It will be interesting to have the experience of being a foreigner somewhere, but I’ve learned a lot of good can come from being in uncomfortable situations,” she mentioned. “I’m excited to adapt to a new place and meet new people from all over the world.”

That isn’t one thing she might need mentioned 4 years in the past. “I think about how much I’ve changed from when I came in as a freshman,” she mentioned. “I’ve grown a lot as a person and learned how to balance academics with other interests and experiences.”

For extra info on how NC State helps college students apply for all kinds of prestigious fellowships, go to the University Fellowships Office.

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