International students Sathya Chitturi ’18 and April Xiaoyi Xu ’18 received prestigious Downing Scholarships to study at the University of Cambridge for 2018-19, which are annually awarded to two Pomona College seniors.

A native of Australia, Chitturi is a chemistry major and mathematics minor, who will pursue a master’s in scientific computing at Cambridge. This degree will equip him with more computational background to solve challenging problems through the interdisciplinary lenses of physics, chemistry and material science. 

His passion for chemistry began in the laboratories of Professors Cynthia Selassie and Malkiat Johal where he was exposed to topics such as DNA damage and solar energy. Later on, an interest in physical chemistry led Chitturi to work in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a visiting student researcher under the guidance of Professor of Chemistry Fred Grieman

“My ultimate goal is to pursue a Ph.D. in materials chemistry and become a professor,” says Chitturi. “My academic goal is to apply novel combinations of theory and experiment to solve problems in the fields of energy sustainability and biomedicine.” After Cambridge, Chitturi will attend Stanford to earn his doctorate in materials science and engineering. 

Chitturi says he’s excited about developing materials that can efficiently, and cost-effectively, store the energy of the sun. “I am also enthusiastic about applying these skills to biomaterials for molecular imaging and tracking.”

A Chinese student majoring in politics and minoring in Spanish at Pomona, Xu will pursue a master’s in international relations and politics while at Cambridge. She plans to focus her studies on East Asian post-World War II reconciliation as well as international legal issues concerning Mainland China and Hong Kong.

A Rhodes Scholar finalist, Xu has been the editor in chief of the Claremont Journal of Law and Public Policy, and also founded the Intercollegiate Law Journal which reaches the U.S. as well as Canada. A freelance writer for various publications including the Huffington Post and South China Morning Post, Xu is also working on a novel which she plans on publishing after graduation. 

“I am definitely looking forward to being in England for a year,” says Xu. “I grew up with a strong British accent from memorizing everything from Harry Potter and Pride and Prejudice—a key part of my English language acquisition process back to my elementary school days in Beijing.”

After her Downing Scholarship, Xu has a couple more years of school ahead of her. Among other programs she has been accepted to include Stanford University and Yale University for which she was selected as a Silver Scholar.

The Downing Scholarship award covers tuition, fees, living expenses and round-trip travel, as well as a stipend for books, local travel and personal expenses. The program is a special arrangement between Pomona and the University of Cambridge’s Downing College.