Yale Senior Wins Churchill Foundation Scholarship

Joanna Mattis

Yale undergraduate Joanna Mattis is one of only 11 graduating college students nation-wide to have been awarded a prestigious Winston Churchill Foundation Scholarship this year.

The Churchill supports one year of post-graduate study at Cambridge University for particularly outstanding students in the sciences, mathematics or engineering.

A molecular, cellular and developmental biology major at Yale, Mattis will receive both master and bachelor of science degrees at graduation.

Mattis wants eventually to pursue research on a “neurobiology track,” and intends to earn a master of philosophy degree in physiology at Cambridge. Her research as an undergraduate has ranged from studying behavioral therapy for autistic children to investigating the role a little known protein plays in learning and memory. Understanding the protein might help explain multiple drug resistance in certain kinds of cancer, Mattis says.

Rather than providing immediate clinical application, such research may yield fundamental knowledge about how cells communicate, she says. “We’re asking really basic questions.”

She spent last summer at Imperial College in London doing cutting edge research in electrophysiology, particularly looking at the electrical activity in cancer cells.

A resident of Pierson College, Mattis has a full plate of extracurricular activities. She is a founding member of the Yale Undergraduate Society for Biological Science. She is also an accomplished musician, who plays clarinet in student ensembles such as the Berkeley College Orchestra and the Bach Society.  She teaches music to students from New Haven elementary schools in a program called “Instrumental Connection.”

The children in the program recently performed at Pierson College for their parents, other students and Pierson residents. “It was great,” Mattis exclaimed. “The Instrumental Connection was one of my favorite activities at Yale.”

Mattis grew up in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Her parents recently moved to New York.

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Media Contact

Dorie Baker: dorie.baker@yale.edu, 203-432-1345