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Stanford senior Cullen Chosy selected as 2021 Marshall Scholar

Cullen Chosy, a Stanford senior majoring in chemical engineering, will begin his graduate studies in physics at the University of Cambridge in September as a Marshall Scholar.

Stanford Senior Cullen Chosy, who is studying chemical engineering with an emphasis on renewable energy, has been selected as a 2021 Marshall Scholar.

Cullen Chosy (Image credit: Courtesy Cullen Chosy)

Chosy is among the 46 American college students and recent graduates selected this year for the award, which provides Marshall Scholars with financial support to pursue graduate studies in the field and university of their choice in the United Kingdom.

The Marshall Scholarship was established to strengthen the relationship between the British and American peoples, governments and institutions. The award is named for former U.S. Secretary of State and Army Gen. George Marshall, who formulated the Marshall Plan to aid economic development in Western Europe after World War II.

Chosy, 21, of Madison, Wisconsin, plans to pursue a PhD in physics at the University of Cambridge, where he will work in the Stranks Lab, which studies the optical and electronic properties of emerging semiconductors for low-cost, transformative electronics applications including light-harvesting (photovoltaic) and light-emission (LED) devices.

“I first encountered this work through papers published from the group, and subsequently received a Major Grant from Stanford to travel to Cambridge for a research project related to my honors thesis: Stabilizing Metal Halide Perovskites for the Atomic Layer Deposition of Tin Oxide Contact,” Chosy said. “I conducted this research under Stacey Bent, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford who leads the Bent Research Group.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented Chosy from traveling to Cambridge to complete his research as he had earlier planned, he has been working remotely with the Stranks Lab on a computational modeling project.

“I’m delighted to be starting my PhD in the group next year,” he said.

Winning a Marshall Scholarship

Chosy said it was “a pretty surreal moment” when he learned in a phone call that he had won a 2021 Marshall Scholarship.

“I’m deeply grateful to have been given this opportunity,” he said. “I owe so much of my growth as a scientist to the research mentors who have guided me and taken an interest in my development during my time at Stanford. I also couldn’t imagine going through this process without the support of my family, my friends, and especially Diane Murk and John Pearson from Stanford’s Overseas Resource Center.”

Drawn to chemical engineering

Chosy said he was drawn to chemical engineering during his first quarter at Stanford when he enrolled in the seminar, “When Chemistry Meets Engineering,” taught by Matteo Cargnello, an assistant professor of chemical engineering.

“This course showed in a very hands-on way how chemical engineering applies the fundamentals of chemistry, physics and biology to solve broad issues facing society,” Chosy said. “Professor Cargnello continued to play an active role in my early education at Stanford, providing me with my first research experience and inspiring me to more deeply explore my interest in renewable energy technologies.”

Chosy attributed his strong sense of stewardship for the environment to his love of outdoor activities, including Nordic skiing and mountain biking. He said a Summer 2019 internship at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, where he conducted research on perovskite solar cells, ignited his fascination with solar cells.

At Stanford, Chosy continued studying perovskite solar cells – which offer several significant advantages over the conventional silicon cells found on rooftops today.

“Whereas silicon wafers are the result of lengthy and expensive processing, perovskite films can be rapidly printed from solution much like a newspaper,” he said. “In addition, perovskites promise greater efficiencies at converting sunlight to electricity, with lower cost, lightweight and flexible modules that are easier to install than their silicon counterparts.”

At Stanford, Chosy has been very involved in the Stanford Energy Club, a student-led organization that facilitates collaboration between students and leaders in the energy sector, ranging from the club’s flagship Stanford Cleantech Challenge hackathon to year-round social events that bring together the student energy community on campus.

In addition, Chosy has been studying the harpsichord throughout his time at Stanford with Elaine Thornburgh, a lecturer in the Department of Music.

“The harpsichord has been an important part of my life for many years and was a welcome artistic outlet apart from my chemical engineering coursework,” Chosy said. “Elaine’s warmth, friendship and generosity with her own artistic expertise made harpsichord lessons a highlight of any given week.”

International scholarships

Stanford students interested in overseas scholarships and Stanford faculty interested in nominating students for such awards should contact Diane Murk, manager of the Overseas Resource Center at, of the Bechtel International Center.