McDonnell Academy welcomes 16 new scholars from across the world

First U.S. scholars enter McDonnell Academy in fall 2012

The McDonnell International Scholars Academy at Washington University in St. Louis welcomed 16 talented new graduate and professional students from 11 partner institutions worldwide for the 2012-13 academic year.

From left: Yinghui Wu, a McDonnell Academy scholar from Peking University, talks with Sarita Barton, one of the McDonnell Academy’s first U.S. scholars, and Praveen Kumar, a scholar from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. (Credit: Whitney Curtis)

Admitted into the McDonnell International Scholars Academy for the first time in 2012 were two scholars from the United States.

Established in 2005, the McDonnell Academy brings together top scholars from across the globe to WUSTL to pursue world-class education and research while forging a strong network with one another.

While the McDonnell Academy will continue to admit primarily international students, it also will strive to include a small percentage of U.S. scholars, says McDonnell Academy Director James V. Wertsch, PhD.

“U.S. students need to be part of the global leadership network the McDonnell International Scholars Academy seeks to foster,” says Wertsch, associate vice chancellor for international affairs and the Marshall S. Snow Professor in Arts & Sciences at Washington University.

The new scholars, along with their WUSTL programs and previous institutions, are:

Oguz Alyanak (anthropology in Arts & Sciences, Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey);
Andrea Balassy (energy, environmental and chemical engineering, Budapest University of Technology & Economics, Hungary);
Sohyun Bang (law, Seoul National University, South Korea);
Sarita Barton (social work, University of California, Berkeley, United States);
Jihyun Cha (psychology in Arts & Sciences, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea);
Wan-Jung Cheng (economics in Arts & Sciences, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan);
Rinxan (Richard) Hu (social work, Fudan University, Shanghai, China);
Praveen Kumar (social work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India);
Judith Liu (economics in Arts & Sciences, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan);
Sameer Patel (energy, environmental and chemical engineering, Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Mumbai, India);
Roger Rowe (mechanical engineering and materials science, Washington University in St. Louis, United States);
Juan Pablo Saa (occupational therapy, University of Chile, Santiago, Chile);
Kuan-Yu Shen (energy, environmental and chemical engineering, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan);
Clinton Shi (social work, National University of Singapore);
Chieh-Hsiang Tan (biology and biomedical sciences, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan); and
Wenjia Zhao (architecture, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China).

The 16 graduate students join a class of 33 McDonnell Academy scholars from Asia-Pacific, the Middle East, Europe and Latin America.

All non-U.S. McDonnell Academy students are graduates of one of 27 partner institutions, premier universities from around the world.

U.S. scholars admitted to the program will be required to travel to a McDonnell Academy partner institution to perform collaborative field or laboratory research.

A dinner was held honoring the new members of the McDonnell Academy Sept. 10 at WUSTL’s Knight Center. In attendance, among many others, were representatives from the counsels general representing Brazil, Israel, the Netherlands, South Korea and Taiwan, all of which have McDonnell Academy partner institutions.

About the McDonnell Academy

Headquartered at Washington University, the McDonnell Academy enrolls exceptional graduate and professional students across all graduate disciplines at the university.

The McDonnell Academy Scholars are expected to be future global leaders. As such, they are provided not only with a rigorous graduate education at Washington University but also with cultural, political and social activities designed to prepare them as leaders knowledgeable about the United States, other countries and critical international issues.

Key to the academy’s success are partnerships Washington University has established with top universities and corporations around the world, with an eye to increasing opportunities for joint research and global education.

“In creating an international network of research universities, Washington University intends to develop a cohort of future leaders in a global university system and promote global awareness and social responsibility,” Wertsch says.

For more information on the McDonnell Academy, visit

Academy ambassadors

Once selected for this highly competitive program, each academy scholar is matched with a distinguished member of the WUSTL faculty who serves as a mentor and also as an academy “ambassador” to the university partner from which the scholar has graduated.

The academy ambassador assists the McDonnell scholar in academic and professional life and travels annually with the scholar to the partner university to build relationships between the two institutions.

“The scholars, working with their ambassadors, help foster collaborative research and educational efforts across the academy institutions on issues such as energy and sustainability, international understanding and public health,” Wertsch says. “The academy is an incubator of new ideas on global networks in research and education and will continue to pursue new initiatives in the future.”

The McDonnell Academy organizes special events for the scholars, including leadership training, cultural opportunities, seminars and workshops with experts in key areas, conferences on crucial issues, and sessions in Washington, D.C., with U.S. government policymakers and grant administrators.

Scholar support

The McDonnell Academy scholars receive funding for full tuition and living expenses for the time it takes to get a degree at WUSTL. The academy also provides support for an annual trip back to the scholar’s alma mater, and, for U.S. scholars, it provides travel funds to one or more partner institutions.

To help foster a sense of community, many of the scholars reside in two fully equipped and furnished apartment buildings near campus.

Funding is provided through a sustaining endowment gift from John F. McDonnell, vice chair of WUSTL’s Board of Trustees and retired chairman of the board of McDonnell Douglas Corp.

Additional support comes from 18 multinational corporations, foundations and individual sponsors. Sponsoring corporations also offer internships and on-site educational opportunities for the academy’s corporate fellows.

In June 2011, Chancellor Mark Wrighton traveled to Taiwan to sign a memo of understanding with the Taiwan Ministry of Education, and the incoming cohort of Academy Scholars includes four Taiwan Ministry of Education Fellows.

To view a list of the academy sponsors, visit

Partner universities

Partner universities in the academy are committed to excellence in education and research and to the importance of international collaboration.

The select group of worldwide research universities that are partners with the McDonnell International Scholars Academy follows:

Middle East Technical University
Chulalongkorn University
China Agricultural University
Peking University
Tsinghua University
The University of Queensland
Budapest University of Technology and Economics
State University of Campinas
Technion-Israel Institute of Technology
Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya
Hong Kong
Chinese University of Hong Kong
University of Hong Kong
Boğaziçi University
University of Indonesia
The University of Melbourne
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
Tata Institute of Social Sciences
New Dehli
Jawaharlal Nehru University
University of Chile
Korea University
Seoul National
Yonsei University
Fudan University
National University of Singapore
National Taiwan University
University of Tokyo
Utrecht University