CPB and Computer Science concentrator Benjamin Chang (‘24) has received a Rhodes Scholarship to study engineering at the University of Oxford next year. He is one of ten Harvard students to have been named as Rhodes Scholars this year.
“Studying CPB and computer science during my undergrad has trained me in thinking like both a scientist and engineer, and I’m excited to integrate these disciplines by pursuing engineering science in grad school,” Chang says. “I believe that one day, biology will be fully engineerable through computational design and hope to take the next step towards this future through my research at Oxford.”
As an undergraduate, Chang founded Harvard OpenBio, a biomakerspace that supports student-led research projects. He also recently rowed across the Charles River in a large pumpkin to raise money and awareness for OpenBio.
“Ben is well deserving of the Rhodes,” says Assistant Director of Undergraduate Studies in MCB and CPB Dominic Mao. “Ben likes to solve problems, both within and outside the realm of science, and he has a lot to show for his efforts. His extracurricular initiatives include Harvard OpenBio Laboratory,” he said. “His transcript shows a careful selection of courses (some of the most rigorous courses from the Harvard and MIT catalog) that complements well his research interests in the field of synthetic biology. Ben certainly has an impressive resume and to top it all off he seems to be having a blast!”
An enthusiastic advocate for synthetic biology, Chang aims to apply machine learning to engineer biology. “Machine learning is becoming a powerful language to understand the wonderful complexity of biology,” he explains. “There have already been incredible machine learning breakthroughs that have revolutionized synthetic biology and currently in my research, we’re using these computationally-driven methods to engineer RNA circuits for mammalian cells.”
Chang also expressed gratitude toward his family, friends, and the MCB and CPB community. “I’m really so honored to receive this scholarship and grateful to my family, friends, mentors, and advisors who helped make this possible,” he says. “At Harvard, my most meaningful experiences were learning from and with friends, and I’m excited to continue this journey in Oxford’s vibrant graduate community.”
“I really want to thank Dominic Mao, my CPB concentration advisor, for all of his support and guidance over the last four years,” Chang adds. “I’ve also been extremely privileged to have been mentored by Jim Collins, Ming-Ru Wu, and Feng Zhang, who have shaped my growth as a student and scientist throughout college.”