Andrew Zhou, a senior majoring in chemistry, has been named a Churchill Scholar for the 2021–22 academic year. The scholarship will fund one year of graduate study for Zhou at the Churchill College at the University of Cambridge.
Zhou, of Monona, Wisconsin, will pursue an MPhil in chemistry, working in the lab of Jason Chin, professor of chemistry and chemical biology, on engineering a synthetic enzyme for creating amino acids not found in nature.
At Caltech, Zhou began working in the lab of Frances Arnold, the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry and director of the Donna and Benjamin M. Rosen Bioengineering Center, as a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) student during his freshman year. During his time in the Arnold Lab, he has used directed evolution, a technique developed by Arnold, to create new enzymes, and for which she won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.
Zhou has co-authored two papers on directed evolution and hopes the research will help create new pharmaceuticals in a more environmentally friendly way.
Outside of his academics, Zhou has also been involved in numerous extracurricular activities, including as president of the Undergraduate Chemistry Club, outreach director of the MEDLIFE Club, a cellist with the Caltech Orchestra, a member of the Caltech NCAA tennis team, and as a Rise tutor.
"Caltech has given me the opportunity to experience rigorous academics and cutting-edge research while also enjoying enriching and meaningful personal experiences," Zhou says. "Being able to conduct research in the lab of a Nobel Prize winner as a freshman is an opportunity that I think is unique to this institution. The close interaction with world-renowned faculty and small classes are simply amazing. Beyond the lab and classroom, I've made lifelong friends here."
Zhou is the 21st Caltech student to be named a Churchill Scholar since the program began in 1963.