Women’s Basketball Team Ranks Third in WBCA Academic Top 25

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Behind the strength of a 3.56 grade point average, the MIT women's basketball team placed third on the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Academic Top 25 Team Honor Roll. The Engineers, who ranked 14th last year, were the sole representatives from the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) to make the list for the second consecutive season.

"I'm so proud of this team," said head coach Sonia Raman. "They are a very driven group both on and off the court which makes coaching them such an honor and a fun experience. We set a lot of goals for the season in our pursuit of excellence and this was one part of that bigger picture for the program. Without sacrificing time in the gym, they still find time to excel in the classroom and pursue research opportunities that make a difference in the world. "

Junior co-captain, co-MVP, and NEWMAC Academic All-Conference selection Lauren Sascha Burton (Seattle, Wash.) added: "As a team we take pride in our performance both on and off the court and as a result we always give our best effort whether it's in the classroom or in the gym. We know the most essential part of being a student-athlete is academics and always striving for excellence."

Case Western Reserve University paced the Division III squads with a 3.609 GPA while Centenary College followed with a 3.561. Carthage College (3.545) and Messiah College (3.538) rounded out the top five. Additional qualifiers from the New England region were Emerson College and Wesleyan University, which ranked 15th and 25th, respectively.

The award, given at the NCAA Division I, II, III, NAIA, and Junior College/Community College levels, recognizes programs that carry the highest grade point averages for the entire season based on the nomination submitted by WBCA-member head coaches.

A mechanical engineering major, Burton is working on a Formula SAE car and began designing the shifting system for the 2011 vehicle in UROP during IAP. Over the course of the spring semester she finished building the shifting system and also designed and built a gear indicator for the car. The gear indicator senses a gear shift and then sends a signal to a display on the dashboard which shows the driver which gear the car is in. The car is designed and built from the ground up completely by students and a few other members of the MIT community. This year the car raced in the Formula SAE West 2011 competition in California and placed ninth overall out of 80 teams. Burton's group also finished fourth in cost and sixth in endurance. This coming year they plan to build and design another car and to compete in a FSAE competition in Nebraska.

Sophomore Margo Batie (Los Angeles, Calif.) – Physics
Margo Batie is a residential assistant at the Summer Math and Science Honors Academy hosted by UC Berkeley. Geared towards high achieving, low-income high school students of color with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, she is charged with supervision, student development, and event planning responsibilities.

Sophomore Sydney Beasley (Yorktown, Va.) – Mechanical Engineering
This summer Sydney Beasley is an intern at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in the radiation detection group. Her main project is setting up an experiment to test the reflectance of mirrors that will go in a Super High Momentum Spectrometer (a detector system that studies properties of subatomic particles). Beasley programmed a machine that will be useful in the experiment and is currently in the process of configuring the experiment in a dark box.

Senior Liz Burton (Fountain, Colo.) – Management Science
Liz Burton is currently working at Google in the Online Partnership Group for AdSense. With a focus in marketing, she is promoting several of the free Google products that will help publishers make more money and in turn increase Google's revenue. In particular, Burton is working with mass communication, so the majority of her marketing is done for large scales.

Junior Stephanie Cooke (Lanoka Harbor, N.J.) – Mechanical Engineering
This summer Stephanie Cooke is doing research at Bonn University Medical School in Germany. She was placed in the lab of Developmental Pathology which is run by Dr. Hubert Schorle. Working with a postdoc, their first objective was to study the effects of hydroxymethylation of DNA to see if it has an effect on tumor formation. Now they are doing experiments with a gene named Dazl and doing a variety of tests with the RNA and protein expression. They will investigate if upregulation of Dazl effects protein expression of certain proteins that are linked with tumor formation.

Senior Marissa Good (Escondido, Calif.) – Aerospace Engineering
Marissa Good is currently at intern in Los Angeles at SpaceX, a private rocket company founded by Elon Musk (the co-founder of PayPal). SpaceX is developing a line of private launch vehicles that will reduce the cost and increase the reliability of space access. She is working in the propulsion department at SpaceX, gaining hands on experience designing and building rocket engines. Last year at the Marshall Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., Good participated in the NASA Propulsion Academy, a senior-level internship program. She worked on projects at Marshall and traveled on the weekends to visit other NASA centers as well as private companies in the rocket industry.

Senior Kathryn Harris (Charlotte, N.C.) – Nuclear Science and Engineering
Kathryn Harris has a summer research internship at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, N.C. under the direction of Dr. David Tait. The purpose of their research is to discover novel biomarkers for early detection of ovarian cancer, the fifth leading cause of cancer in women in the United States.

Sophomore Rachel Hunt (Arlington Heights, Ill.) – Biological Engineering
Earlier this summer, Rachel Hunt assisted in developing and testing websites for Hallmark Data Systems.

Junior Anna Merrifield (Honolulu, Hawaii) – Physics
For the fourth straight summer Anna Merrifield is a Research Assistant in a Physical Oceanography laboratory at the University of Hawaii.

Junior Rebecca Odim (Brooklyn, N.Y.) – Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Rebecca Odim is contracting for a startup mobile applications company in Aspen, Colo. doing design work for both their iPhone applications and their website. She is also spending time developing her start-up web design business.

Sophomore Tamara Pena (Aliso Viejo, Calif.) – Biological Engineering
This summer Tamara Pena is working for the Goosens Lab at MIT's McGovern Institute for Brain Research. She is generating viral vectors which manipulate growth hormone signaling to study how the virus affects stress as well as function in the hippocampus and amygdala when inserted into the brain of a small animal.