The Polymathic Scholars Student Leadership Panel hosts a variety of social, academic, and service events on and off campus. Among its signature achievements is the Texas Chautauqua Series, an annual campus-wide forum on issues of particular importance to Texans. Recent forums have concerned the controversy over how evolution should be taught in the state’s public schools, concealed carry legislation, the influence of major college football in higher education, and the pros and cons of taxing carbon emissions. Sophomores, juniors and seniors apply to join the coming year’s panel in April; freshmen may apply after their first semester. This year’s Chair is junior Mayra Sharma.
Mayra is a third-year pursuing dual degrees in Neuroscience and Plan II. In her polymathic field of study, "Emotional Intelligence," she is examining the communication and behavioral display of emotional responses as well as the neural mechanisms that characterize them. In addition to her academic involvement, Mayra enjoys serving as a peer educator for the Counseling and Mental Health Center, where she works to promote emotional well-being on campus. She has also been interning with the Design Institute for Health to bring innovation and human-centered design thinking to creatively and collaboratively develop solutions to health care needs. Her group designed WellNext, a mobile-based tracking fusion of subjective wellness measures and physical quantifiable data. Mayra is also a Natural Sciences Representative in Student Government, so if you’d like to see something changed in CNS, let her know! In her spare time she likes to eat Torchy’s queso, laugh, paint, journal, read, and explore Austin’s coffee shops, restaurants, and concerts. With two years behind her and two years ahead, she is excited to see what the future holds!
Sarah Hood is a junior Biology major from Irvine, California. Her polymathic field, "Birds and the World," aims to explore the interactions and interpretations of birds by humans, from both scientific and cultural perspectives. She hopes to work in wildlife conservation and research after graduation. Sarah is excited to be on the student panel this year, and can't wait to help organize some fun social events for her fellow polymaths!
Sruthi Kumpatla is a fourth-year biochemistry major and this is her third year on the Polymathic Scholars Student Leadership Panel. She was born in India, but was raised in Houston, Texas for most of her life. In her Polymathic field, "The Cultural Anthropology of Medicine," she is looking at the cultural roots of medical practice in the U.S., India, and China. Her future plans are to enter the medical field and become a pediatrician. Sruthi hopes to get more involved in research, and maybe go on a study abroad program. In her spare time she likes to paint, listen to music, explore Austin, and eat mint chocolate chip ice cream.
Christian is a second-year physics and biology double major and proud Polymath from Southlake, Texas. He has not yet proposed a field, but aspires to develop one involving the application of ideas from philosophical ethics, aesthetics, and psychology to contemporary society. In the future, Christian plans to attend medical school and indulge his interest in biophysics. Outside of Polymathic Scholars, Christian is a tutor at the Sanger Learning Center, a member of the Supramolecular Sensors Research Lab, and is pursuing a certificate in Core Texts and Ideas as a Jefferson Scholar. In his free time, he is a classical guitarist, luthier, volunteer, world traveler, photographer, bibliophile, and coffee enthusiast (he also has a pretty fly cowhide rug). He’s excited to be studying evolution abroad in Spain this summer, and is looking forward to a semester full of involvement in and service to the Polymathic community.
Madeleine Marlar is a third-year Neuroscience and French major from San Antonio, Texas. Her Polymathic field, "Stigma and Mental Illness in the United States," is an examination of how both mild and pronounced negative perceptions impact the treatment gap for those who have been diagnosed with some form of mental illness. Her ultimate goal is to attend medical school, where she will study to become a Pediatric Oncologist. She is currently a part of the Vertebrate Interactome Mapping Research Stream. When she isn't studying she loves to read, bike and explore Austin. She will be studying abroad at The University of Exeter in the fall, but is excited to see the growth of the panel when she returns in Spring 2017!
Katie Phung is a fourth-year Pre-Med Neuroscience major and a third-year panel member. She was born in California, but was raised in Keller, Texas for the majority of her life. In her Polymath field, "Video Games and Gender," she is studying how gender roles and the representation of gender by the mobile, computer, and video game industry are impacting the development of stereotypes and influencing the players’ experience and motives for playing video games. Katie is also a member of the Spit Shine Poetry Club, Asian Health Professions, and Koinonia. In her spare time, she enjoys listening and attempting slam poetry, experiencing and exploring new stuff in the city of Austin (sports, food, places, people, arts, etc.), having thought-provoking conversations, playing board and video games, singing musicals and making art.
Alli is a second-year Neuroscience student from Denton, Texas. Although she’s yet to establish her field, Alli has interests in music, psychology, linguistics, and policy. After receiving her undergraduate degree, she aspires to go to medical school and spend several years with Doctors Without Borders. In her free time, Alli enjoys reading, playing music, eating, and being with her friends. She is always excited to meet new people and learn new things.
Jackie is a third-year Neuroscience major who hails from a suburb of Kansas City, Kansas. Her field of study, titled "Food Culture in America," examines the factors specific to the U.S. that allow pervasive eating disorders, the obesity epidemic, food insecurity and massive food waste to coexist. She loves to travel anywhere and everywhere, and bikes, draws/paints, explores the world of cinema and searches for new music in her free time. She hopes to pursue zoology, clinical psychology, medicine, gastronomy, or some combination of these.
Jake "Danger" Schmidt is a third-year physics student who has designed a Polymathic field called "Entrepreneurship in Aerospace: From Startup to Liftoff," a study of the entrepreneurial practices and processes that convert aeronautical science into a viable product or service. When Jake isn't practicing Mixed Martial Arts, he records face-melting guitar solos in his DIY dorm room studio. He enjoys picnics, hammocks, and books (usually all at once). After taking time to travel the world and chase trouble post-graduation, Jake plans to join an engineering firm with the hopes of leaving to become a serial entrepreneur.
Vik Shirvaikar is a second-year math and economics major from Frisco, Texas. His Polymathic field has not yet been finalized, but it will likely involve game theory and financial decision-making. He is also interested in scientific programming, and is currently part of the Computational Materials FRI research stream. Outside of class, Vik enjoys playing soccer and watching sports, following U.S. and world politics, and volunteering. He is also a member of the Natural Sciences Council and plays the violin in the UT University Orchestra.
Savannah Troy was born in Logan, Utah but moved to Texas at age three. She spent most of her life in College Station, Texas and graduated from A&M Consolidated High School. She is currently a sophomore, double majoring in Biology and French. Her Polymathic field is titled "Applying Ethnobotany to Sustainability," which addresses the anthropological and scientific importance of indigenous plants and how that knowledge applies to environmental conservation. Outside of her academic interests, she actively studies classical voice and piano and loves to paint.
Krithika is a third-year Neuroscience major. They were born in Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh, India, but they consider themself an Austinite at heart and have been proud Austin resident of almost ten years as of 2016. Their field seeks to assess the changing nature of health policy for the transgender community, a topic that is very dear to them and the people they care about. Their academic goals include developing an effective, long-term treatment for major depression, finding a way to expedite the recovery of aphasia patients, and reworking formulas for antidepressants and antipsychotics to minimize dangerous side-effects. They are very interested in sociology and the social interpretation of disease, a topic they like to read up about in their spare time. Krithika’s extracurricular passions include visual art, playing video games, reading scientific papers for fun, and taking care of their many plants.