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‘Curiosity’ Drives The Intellectual Pursuits Of Kurt Mitman, U.Va.’S Sixth Marshall Scholar

May 7, 2004 -- What drives an undergraduate student to perform research in three separate fields, pursue two unrelated majors and start one journal of international affairs?

“Curiosity,” said Kurt E. Mitman, an Echols Scholar at the University of Virginia.

Mitman, 22, who graduates in May with dual degrees in physics and economics, is U.Va.’s sixth Marshall Scholar and one of 40 students at the University to have received a national Goldwater Scholarship since 1989.

To say Mitman has been productive as an undergraduate would be a gross understatement. Over the past four years, this energetic student has excelled at undergraduate research, earning himself a Harrison Undergraduate Research Award and the satisfaction of investigating such topics as neuroscience and sealed-bid auctions.

“I find problems and pose questions,” he said. “I challenge myself to see if I can do [new things]. I want to jump in and see what I can contribute.”

Mitman has published articles in Astrophysical Journal and, as a member of the International Relations Organization at U.Va., was instrumental in creating the Wilson Journal of International Affairs, a quarterly publication that focuses on foreign affairs and honors former president and U.Va. alumnus Woodrow Wilson.

He spent his third year studying natural sciences at Pembroke College at the University of Cambridge, England. Now, thanks to the Marshall Scholarship, he will return to England this fall to pursue a master’s degree in physics at Oxford University.
A McLean, Va., resident, Mitman has also been engaged in student life as a Lawn resident and as a member of the University Guides.

“Kurt has made the most of his undergraduate career with two distinguished and unrelated majors, he studied abroad, he was engaged in research, lived on the Lawn and started an international affairs journal,” said Nicole F. Hurd, assistant dean of the Center for Undergraduate Excellence, which serves as a clearinghouse for undergraduate research projects. “He’s leaving a remarkable legacy. I don’t know anyone who has done all of that in such a short period of time.”

For the record, Mitman’s connection to U.Va. goes back 22 years — he was born at the Medical Center in 1982, while his father, Matthias Mitman, was a graduate student and his mother, Susan Elliot, was an instructor at the School of Nursing. Both parents now work at the State Department.

Contact: Matt Kelly, (434) 924-7291

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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