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Swimming captain David Zoltowski reflects on being named Churchill Scholar

January 27, 2015

This past week electrical engineering senior and swim team captain David Zoltowski was awarded the prominent Churchill Scholarship.

One of 14 students selected throughout the nation, Zoltowski will act as MSU’s 17th Churchill Scholar, the last one last coming in 2008-2009.

Beginning in 1963, the scholarship offers 14 American students the opportunity to pursue a graduate degree in engineering, mathematics, or the sciences at the University of Cambridge located in Cambridge, England.

Depending on their academic accommodations, scholars are able to study at Cambridge for 9-12 months, of which the scholarship includes the payment of all university fees with an additional living allowance of £11,000-£13,000, or $16,500 and $20,000.

And honors student David Zoltowski earned every cent.

Acting as the captain of the MSU swimming and diving team, Zoltowski is last year’s recipient of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, as well as the MSU Honors College National Scholarship, Walter R. and Margaret W. Yates Memorial Scholarship and Arthur J. Harris Memorial Scholarship

But with a multitude of successes in his rear view, Zoltowski has his eyes set on the future.

Zoltowski is working as a research assistant for electrical and computer engineering professor Selin Aviyente, where he studies how brain networks alter throughout a period of time. More specifically, he monitors the functional connectivity networks describing how areas of the brain work together in time.

“I’ve always been interested in studying the brain,” Zoltowski said. “But I also have inspiration to study the brains of people with autism as well, because of my brother.”

Born a triplet, David has both a brother and a sister. But as he and his sister graduated high school and left West Lafayette, Indiana, they were leaving behind a true inspiration.

David’s brother, Matthew, has a form of autism that ultimately acts as encouragement for the Churchill Scholar. As David has yet to study the brain of someone with autism, it is his hope that he can do that in the near future.

Confident in Zoltowski’s ability, Aviyente said she believes David’s success is derived from his dedication.

“David is a very hardworking and motivated student who is really dedicated to research in signal processing and computational neuroscience,” Aviyente said. “I am sure that he will continue to be a very successful Ph.D student and a promising researcher.”

And as Cambridge awaits his arrival, Zoltowski is one step closer to achieving yet another goal.

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