Each year, 24 juniors with outstanding academic records are inducted into the Harvard chapter of Phi Beta Kappa (PBK), the oldest and most prestigious academic honor society in the United States. Two students in concentrations administered by the MCB department — MCB concentrator Isaac Sebenius (‘20) and Neuroscience concentrator Emilé Radyté (‘20) — will join the society as members of the “Junior 24.”
Candidates for induction into PBK are elected based on the strength of their academic record, the breadth of their intellectual pursuits, and recommendations from faculty.
“Emilé is driven by an insatiable curiosity to understand how the mind works,” says Associate Concentration Advisor in Neuroscience Laura Magnotti. “As a joint concentrator in Anthropology and the Mind, Brain, Behavior track of Neuroscience, she is attacking that question from every available angle. She is fantastically talented in the classroom and the lab and is well deserving of this honor.”
MCB Concentration Advisor Dominic Mao adds, “Isaac Sebenius performance is nothing short of impressive; he has demonstrated academic excellence in his specific areas of interest (MCB and Computer Science) as well as the humanities.”
For both Sebenius and Radyté, election into PBK prompted a moment of reflection on their undergraduate careers so far. “Often, Harvard students (myself included) fall into the rhythm of working diligently towards the next assignment or goal without pause,” Sebenius says. “Receiving this tangible milestone caused me to reflect on my hard work over the past few years with a feeling of satisfaction and validation.”
“And yet simultaneously, I was acutely aware that so many other incredible people in my class deserve this award as much as I do,” Sebenius adds. “Three Greek letters are hardly enough to capture the amazing diversity of thought and diligence I encounter on a daily basis from my peers, and this realization made me very humbled and grateful to be an undergraduate here.”
Throughout its history, PBK has fostered discussions and explorations across the liberal arts. Radyté says that she is especially looking forward to exchanging and sharpening ideas through discussions with other members of PBK. “While my academics have strongly impacted my forming perspectives of the world, their importance often revealed itself in conversations, so I’m especially thrilled to join PBK as, above all, a community of peers,” she says.
“As someone who always found academic problems not falling distinctly into any traditional discipline most challenging and engaging, I’m intrigued by all settings that gather people from distinct areas of expertise, as well as life experiences, to involve them in the activity of, broadly, problem-solving,” she adds, noting that intellectually-engaging conversations already abound in Cambridge, MA social circles. “I am hopeful that my peers and other members of PBK will become part of that community, which I have already found across Harvard.”
Sebenius notes that election into PBK will likely bolster his confidence, enabling him to take more intellectual risks and continue to study an eclectic group of subjects.
Congratulations to the new PBK inductees!