Senior is 2013 Luce Scholar

March 5, 2013
Amanda Nagy
William Broderick
William Broderick ’13. Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones

Senior Billy Broderick, a neuroscience and mathematics double major from West Chester, Pennsylvania, has been named a 2013 Luce Scholar.

The Luce Scholars Program is a nationally competitive fellowship program launched by the Henry Luce Foundation in 1974 to enhance the understanding of Asia among potential leaders in American society. The program provides stipends, language training, and individualized professional placement in Asia for 15 to 18 Luce Scholars each year, and welcomes applications from college seniors, graduate students, and young professionals in a variety of fields who have had limited exposure to Asia.

Luce Scholars gain cultural insights on their host countries through immersive living and working experiences in Asia. A professional placement is individually arranged for each scholar on the basis of his or her professional interest, background, and qualifications.

Broderick is taking fourth-year Chinese at Oberlin and spent the summer of 2012 in Beijing on the Princeton in Beijing language immersion program. In spring 2012, he spent a semester abroad in the Budapest Semesters Mathematics program, where he gained a rudimentary knowledge of Hungarian language. He has also studied French. While he is proficient in Mandarin Chinese, he says he hopes to improve his conversational skills and work in a research lab in a Chinese speaking area.

In addition to culture and languages, he has a particular interest in food. China, for example, has incredibly diverse cuisines. “It’s as if every province has a different cuisine. Some areas rely on fish, rice, or spices. It’s delicious and fascinating.”

At Oberlin, Broderick has pursued the study of computational neuroscience, which uses mathematical simulations to model the brain. He has been doing research with Patrick Simen, assistant professor of neuroscience, since his junior year. Simen’s work attempts to create mathematical models that can test experiments to explain human behavior.

“It has been a lot of fun to work with him on our project because of his enthusiasm for it and, above all, because of his attitude toward intellectual challenges,” says Simen. “You don't often see his combination of sustained enthusiasm and persistent effort, and I think you cannot approach science with any better combination of attitudes than that.”

Broderick says he is excited to take full advantage of everything the Luce Scholarship can offer. “I hope I can form lasting connections that will allow me to return to Asia in the future.”

After the Luce year, Broderick plans pursue a Ph.D. in computational neuroscience.

The Henry Luce Foundation was established in 1936 by Henry R. Luce, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Time Inc., to honor his parents, who were missionary educators in China. The foundation seeks to bring important ideas to the center of American life, strengthen international understanding, and foster innovation and leadership in academic, policy, religious, and art communities.

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