Baylor Senior Biology Major Wins Prestigious Churchill Scholarship

March 12, 2021
Emily Schultz

Emily Schultz, a Baylor University senior biology major from Plano, Texas, is one of 16 recipients of the Churchill Scholarship in mathematics, science and engineering from the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States. (Robert Rogers/Baylor University)

Emily Schultz becomes Baylor's first Churchill Scholar in University's first year of eligibility

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WACO, Texas (March 12, 2021) – Baylor University senior biology major Emily Schultz of Plano, Texas, is among 16 recipients of the prestigious Churchill Scholarship in mathematics, science and engineering, announced today by the Winston Churchill Foundation of the United States. Schultz, who conducts research as an undergraduate on emerging viral diseases, is Baylor's first Churchill Scholar, an achievement especially noteworthy since this is the University's first year as a Participating Institution in the program.

The Churchill Scholarship provides funding to American students for a year of master’s study at Churchill College in the University of Cambridge. The program was set up at the request of Sir Winston Churchill to fulfill his vision of US-UK scientific exchange with the goal of advancing science and technology on both sides of the Atlantic, helping to ensure future prosperity and security. For the 16 Churchill Scholarships, the Churchill Foundation received 125 nominations from 80 Participating Institutions, among the highest in the history of the competition.

Schultz's Churchill Scholarship will cover full tuition, a stipend, travel costs and the opportunity to apply for a $2,000 special research grant at Cambridge. She will pursue an M.Phil. in pathology by conducting research on Zika virus pathogenesis.

"I decided to pursue the Churchill Scholars program because it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and it will undoubtedly develop me into an even greater scientist," said Schultz, who won a 2020 Goldwater Scholarship, one of the most prestigious undergraduate scholarships given in the natural sciences, engineering and mathematics that encourages outstanding students to pursue careers in STEM fields.

In May 2020, Baylor made an appeal to the Winston Churchill Foundation that the University should join the ranks of its elite Participating Institutions, which would make Baylor students eligible to apply for the Churchill Scholarship. The Churchill Foundation invited, then accepted, the University's formal proposal, which trumpeted Baylor’s advancement in research and undergraduate achievement, said Andrew P. Hogue, Ph.D., associate dean for engaged learning at Baylor.

"We were thrilled to put forward our two allotted nominees this fall, even as we were modest in our expectations; first-year participants rarely win. That shows you something about Emily. She is a force in the laboratory and the classroom, and we are glad that the Churchill Foundation agreed with our assessment of her potential for global leadership in the sciences. Cambridge will be lucky to have her," Hogue said.

Schultz chose to attend Baylor because of the sense of community she experienced when visiting campus, as well as the University’s exceptional science/biology program, smaller classes, and direct interaction with professors. Her time at Baylor coincides with the University's pursuit of Tier 1/Research 1 recognition as a top Christian research university.

During her freshman year, Schultz was involved in a biology research course called SEA-PHAGES, an early undergraduate research opportunity that sparked her interest in virology research and the problems societies face as infectious viruses impact all aspects of life.

Under her faculty mentor, Kelli L. Barr, Ph.D., assistant professor of tropical disease and global health biology, Schultz's undergraduate experience at Baylor has included conducting research on the pathological impacts of viruses such as Zika, Chikungunya, Dengue and other emerging viral diseases.

"Dr. Kelli Barr has been my mentor for the past three years, and without a sliver of doubt in my mind, where I am today and the opportunities I have are all because of her," Schultz said. "She has given me the responsibility of conducting multiple research projects as well as the opportunity to publish my findings in peer-reviewed journals, which is something nearly unheard of for undergraduates. By the time I graduate from Baylor, I will have four first-author publications in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Barr’s mentorship has made me the scientist I am today, and I am beyond thankful for all the techniques and skills she has instilled in me these past three years."

Schultz will pursue a Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology after returning from Cambridge. She hopes to one day work at the National Institutes of Health or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Baylor students who seek a rich – even extraordinary – undergraduate education are supported by Baylor’s Office of Engaged Learning, which partners with students, in collaboration with faculty and staff throughout the University, to help them maximize their scholarship beyond the classroom. Students are supported as they apply and compete for prestigious scholarships, fellowships, internships and research experiences at the national and international level, including the Fulbright, Truman, Gates Cambridge, Boren and Rhodes, and for other notable awards, such as the Goldwater, Pickering, Critical Language Scholarship and National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU).


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 19,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.