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Jan. 10, 2023

MSU student earns Churchill Scholarship

Samuel Sottile, an Honors College senior majoring in advanced mathematics in the College of Natural Science, has been named a Churchill Scholar.

The 18th Churchill Scholar from Michigan State University, Sottile places MSU in the top 10 nationally (tied for No. 7) and No. 1 in the Big Ten for Churchill Scholars.

This year, 16 Churchill Scholars were selected from 119 applicants and 77 institutions. The Churchill Scholarship supports one year of master’s study at Churchill College, University of Cambridge, England.

“All Spartans can be proud of this recognition of Samuel’s accomplishments,” said MSU Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. “Churchill scholarships are highly competitive, focusing on recipients’ prior academic and research achievements. I have no doubt Samuel will continue to distinguish himself in his graduate mathematics studies at the University of Cambridge and beyond.”

Samuel Sottile standing outside of a brick building in an MSU shirt
Samuel Sottile. Photo by Tracy Henion.

As a first-year student, Sottile was awarded a Professorial Research Assistantship from the Honors College. During his first two years at MSU, he served as a research assistant at the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory.

Over the years, he has conducted significant research at MSU and beyond, including projects supported by the National Science Foundation, with the University of Michigan-Dearborn and University of California, Davis. Sottile was awarded a Goldwater Scholarship as a junior in recognition of his research. He is from College Station, Texas, and graduated from Allen Academy in Bryan, Texas.

“I am honored to receive the Churchill Scholarship. I would like to thank everyone who has helped me over the years,” he said. “Additionally, I would like to thank MSU for helping me to achieve my potential. I am looking forward to spending a year at Cambridge at one of the best mathematics programs in the world.”

MSU mathematics professor Willie Wong said he has no doubt Sottile will become a leader in his research.

“What impresses me most about Sam is not his immense mathematical talent, which is plainly evident to his teachers, his peers, and anyone who cares to hold a mathematical conversation with him. Rather, it is the healthy skepticism with which he approaches the subject,” Wong explained. “His depth of knowledge came from his skepticism of his own self; our paper together improved due to his skepticism of his co-authors; and the novel results of our collaboration owe much to his skepticism of conventional wisdom.”

At the University of Cambridge, Sottile plans to pursue a Master of Advanced Study in the Mathematics Part III program.

“Many congratulations and well-wishes to Samuel as he embarks on his next scholarly endeavor,” said MSU Interim Provost Thomas D. Jeitschko. “The curiosity, determination, and unquestionable capabilities Samuel has demonstrated while a student here at MSU make him most deserving of this prestigious honor.”

Christopher Long, dean of the Honors College and College of Arts and Letters, noted Sottile’s passion for mathematics and physics, and promise as a leader in these fields. “I join his mentors and family in congratulating him for this outstanding achievement, and for being the Winston Churchill Foundation’s first second-generation Churchill Scholar (Sam's father, Frank Sottile, was an MSU Churchill Scholar in 1985),” he said.

Established in 1959 by the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States, the Churchill Scholarship offers 16 American students of exceptional ability and outstanding achievement the opportunity to pursue graduate degrees in engineering, mathematics, or the sciences at Churchill College at the University of Cambridge in England.

The National and International Fellowships and Scholarships Office, administered by the Honors College, is dedicated to supporting undergraduate and graduate students pursuing major national and international opportunities by providing information and direct support throughout the competitive application processes.

This article originally ran on the National/International Fellowships and Scholarships website.

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