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Honors and Awards

Senior Earns Coveted Marshall Scholarship

Daniel Kinch will study math and string theory in the U.K.

Northwestern University senior Daniel Kinch, a dual-degree student in physics and math, explains in a word why he won the coveted Marshall Scholarship to study in the United Kingdom: perseverance.

“I never give up,” said Kinch, one of students from around the U.S. to be named a Marshall Scholar this year. “I think what separates successful people is perseverance. It’s been one of my guiding principles for about as long as I can remember; it’s what got me to Northwestern in the first place.” 

Kinch will study math at the University of Durham in England for the first year and the University of Cambridge for the second, while exploring the relationship between physics and math as it applies to string theory. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. in theoretical physics upon the completion of the Marshall Scholarship.

“String theory is a physical theory, first and foremost, that a lot of physicists are wary of because currently we have no way of testing it,” Kinch said. “But there are new conjectures that show that string theory can actually be used to improve our understanding of mathematics. That’s part of what I am going to study at Durham, especially as part of my master’s dissertation.” 

Daniel KinchAt Northwestern, Kinch studies physics in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences and math in the McCormick School of Engineering.

When Kinch was choosing a college, he said what most captivated his interest about Northwestern was the McCormick School of Engineering’s “whole brain” approach to education — along with the architecture on the Evanston campus and his discovery of deep dish pizza at the local Giordano’s.

A member of QuestBridge, his journey is all the more remarkable.

“QuestBridge is an organization geared toward helping first-generation and low-income students find their way in college,” Kinch said. “They might not have family members and friends who have navigated that process. So, the Quest network is made up of other students who have trail-blazed that path and can provide those resources to new students.”

Beginning four years ago, when Kinch joined the ranks of Wildcats in 2013 on a full QuestBridge scholarship, he has been working diligently, investing long hours at Northwestern’s Office of Fellowships, to secure such an opportunity for postgraduate work. The Marshall, he said, is worth the work and the wait.

Kinch found out that he had won before the start of Thanksgiving break, but the news did not fully settle in until he told his mother a couple hours later.

“I was in shock when I got the news,” Kinch said, recalling the phone call he made to his mother in the Denver area. “As soon as I told her, just immediately, she was screaming and crying, and that’s when it hit me.”

Established in 1953 as a British gesture of thanks to the people of the United States for assistance they received under the Marshall Plan after World War II, the Marshall Scholarship is designed to train future leaders with a lasting understanding of British society and fortify the relationship between the two countries. In 2015, 943 students applied for 31 scholarships.

Kinch certainly fits the bill.

“When I read Albert Einstein’s biography several years ago, my greatest takeaway was not his scientific brilliance; it was his status as a ‘global citizen,’ someone whose connection to all humanity and commitment to its protection transcended any allegiance to a country or ideology,” Kinch stated in his Marshall application. “I aspire to emulate Einstein’s humanity even more than I do his scientific prowess. If I am to have a chance at becoming a global citizen as Einstein was, living outside the U.S. for much of my adulthood is the best path forward, and the Marshall Scholarship will set me on precisely that path.”