San Diego native selected for prestigious Rhodes Scholarship

Rhodes Scholar and San Diego native Francisca Vasconcelos
(Photo: Ian MacLellan/MIT)

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego native studying engineering, computer science and physics at MIT has been selected for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

Francisca Vasconcelos, a Torrey Pines High School graduate, hopes to someday work in a cutting-edge research lab as a quantum computing whiz. She is one of the 32 American scholars selected to take courses at Oxford University as part of the Rhodes program.

At the vaunted English institution, Vasconcelos will pursue a Master of Science degree in mathematics and foundations of computer science, as well as statistical science, MIT announced.

Vasconcelos isn’t the only sharp scientific mind in her family: Both of her parents teach courses at UC San Diego.

During her time at Torrey Pines High, Vasconcelos once modified a drone so that its camera could follow her around the soccer field, the San Diego Union-Tribune’s Gary Robbins wrote in a profile of the science star.

She still makes time to play club soccer at MIT, a passion that should give her common ground with many of her new peers across the pond.

“I’m a bit overwhelmed and kind of in shock,” Vasconcelos told the U-T. “I wasn’t expecting it. The Rhodes committee has a very long tradition of primarily taking students involved in policy and social work. I’m in STEM. I’m so excited that I’ll be going to Oxford.”

Read the newspaper’s full profile of Vasconcelos here.

In an article announcing the honor, MIT said the 21-year-old “hopes to develop the algorithms, derive the physics, and design the hardware that will drive forward the next revolution in computing, while inspiring and educating the next generation of quantum engineers.”

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