On April 4, 2017, at about 10:30 a.m., I tricked Brendan Marsh, about to graduate from Mizzou with degrees in physics and math, into entering the Chancellor’s suite—where he was introduced as the university’s fourth Mark Twain Fellow. Brendan thought I had taken him to Jesse Hall to see a bust of Isaac Newton, fitting for an undergraduate with his majors, but I had lied (a harmless white lie, to be sure). Rather than finding a bust of Newton on a bookshelf, Brendan opened the door to see the Chancellor’s staff seated around a conference table.
The ruse succeeded, and the surprise and excitement on Brendan’s face lit up the room full of high-level administrators who applauded the announcement that MU would support him for a year at the University of Cambridge to earn a master’s degree in advanced applied mathematics through the famous—and intensively rigorous—Part III of the Mathematical Tripos, whose faculty includes Stephen Hawking. Brendan had already earned a Goldwater Scholarship, been selected for Mizzou’s Award for Academic Distinction (a kind of undergraduate academic hall of fame established by students), served as an ambassador for the Office of Undergraduate Research and for the Fellowships Office, tutored and mentored younger students, captained the university’s triathlon team, and conducted research at Stanford, in Germany, and across four years at MU (leading to several papers, some already published, others in various stages of preparation or review). Just a few days earlier, he learned that the National Science Foundation selected him for a Graduate Research Fellowship, which will send him to Stanford after studying in Cambridge.
Needless to say, Brendan Marsh is highly accomplished and we are extremely confident that he will represent the University of Missouri most impressively, in England, at Stanford, and throughout his career.