Yale Senior Maya Shankar Named to "All American Team" by USA Today
Yale senior Maya Shankar, who was named a Rhodes Scholar in November, can add membership in the 2007 “All-USA College Academic Team,” sponsored by USA Today, to her list of honors and accomplishments.
The Cheshire, Connecticut resident, who intends to continue her research in cognitive science at Oxford next year, was also named one of Glamour Magazine’s Top 10 College Women last fall. The magazine, which gave each of the Top 10 a descriptive name, dubbed Shankar “The Scientist.”
Before she arrived at Yale or considered becoming a science major, Shankar, a student at the prestigious Juilliard School and of violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman, had a promising future as a concert violinist. Her musical ambition was dashed, however, when she developed a chronic medical condition that made a career as a violinist impossible.
With the guidance of faculty members and with her father, a Yale professor of physics, as role model, she was able to re-channel her intelligence and work ethic to the study of perception and cognition.
Now a cognitive science major, Shankar works in the Yale Perception and Cognition Laboratory and the Comparative Cognition Laboratory, and she has co-authored papers that have been submitted for publication in scientific journals.
Her work on visual perception, language acquisition and cognition has taken her to Australia and Puerto Rico and the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany for research.
In addition to her high academic achievements, Shankar is an indefatigable champion of social justice, locally and globally. She has tutored in city public schools, and she founded a program for fellow Yale students to help revitalize downtown New Haven. She helped start a student publication, Five Magazine, aimed at developing methods and techniques to serve social activists. She is also campus co-coordinator for the group United Students Against Sweatshops and co-president of the Yale College Council for CARE.
Shankar was one of 20 college juniors and seniors who were chosen for the USA Today prize from a pool of almost 600 applicants nationwide. Applicants are nominated by their colleges for the honor, which carries a $2,500 cash-award, a trophy and a citation in the national daily paper.