Five students selected as 2023 Burch Fellows

Five students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s College of Arts and Sciences Class of 2024 were selected as recipients of the 2023 Burch Fellowship to pursue unique, self-defined educational experiences anywhere off UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus. 


The Burch Fellows Program was established in 1993 by a gift from UNC-Chapel Hill alumnus Lucius E. Burch, III. Its purpose is to recognize undergraduate students at Carolina who possess extraordinary ability, promise, and imagination. The students propose self-designed endeavors that will make a demonstrable difference in the selected Burch Fellows’ lives and enable them to pursue a passionate interest in a way and to a degree not otherwise possible. Funding of up to $6,000 is available towards the expenses of each proposed project. 


To be chosen as a Burch Fellow, an applicant must present convincing evidence of exceptional intellectual, creative, civic, or leadership ability and promise through the application, recommendations, and interview. The proposed fellowship experience should allow the pursuit of an intense interest well beyond the scope of an academic course, a vocational commitment, a summer job, internship, or enrichment program.  All Carolina undergraduates who meet eligibility requirements may apply. 


Anna Baechtold (‘24) is from Ashville, NC and is studying Art History and Public Policy. For her Burch Fellowship, she will travel to Copenhagen, Denmark and Yancey County, North Carolina. After researching food policy in the United Kingdom, she has gained an interest in understanding issues of food waste and food insecurity. Her project will include collaborations with local growers in each location to learn organic growing techniques and cultivate food that will be donated to those who are food insecure in North Carolina. She will conduct independent policy research on food insecurity and interview-based research with local perspectives from growers in each location. 


Cate Schultz (‘24) is from Bethesda, MD and is double majoring in Human Development & Family Science and Psychology with a minor in Conflict Management. This summer, Cate will travel to the UK to collaborate with the PEDAL Institute’s lab at the University of Cambridge where she will research the intersection of children’s play and health. She will also independently explore the play strategies used in various pediatric care settings across the UK and Denmark, expanding upon her volunteering with Wonder Connection at UNC Children’s Hospital. Cate hopes to learn about effective play techniques at European children’s hospitals and bring her unique background of play research and teaching from Chapel Hill overseas. Her goal is to scaffold hospitalized children’s development with play as an outlet for expression, coping, and joy. 

Sheena Meng (‘24) grew up in Bridgewater, NJ and is an Information Science and Comparative Literature double major interested in emergent digital technologies, media studies, science and technology studies, and critical ethnic studies. For her Burch Fellowship, she will be a visiting researcher at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Under the supervision of Dr. Liu, she plans to analyze the ideologically-informed nature of information infrastructure. She will also interview scholars, artists, and other critical voices to explore how they assess and protest flawed digital infrastructure.  

Madi Marks (‘24) is from Charlotte, NC and is studying Music Education. An idea fueled by her time studying abroad on the Burch Seminar on Musical Perspectives in London and Florence, Madi will travel to Florence, Italy and San Marino for 7 weeks to study how music is taught in Italy versus in the US. As a future teacher, Madi values a multicultural perspective on music-making. With this passion for teaching, she will work at the Il Trillo International School of Music and Istituto Musicale Sammarinese to teach lessons, lead rehearsals, and participate in ensembles. To conclude her trip, she will conduct a concert with the students she has been teaching throughout her time in Italy. 

Annabel Steiner (‘24) is from Chapel Hill, NC and is studying both Environmental Studies and Geography with a minor in Statistics and Analytics. This summer, Annabel will travel to London, UK to spend 2 and a half months working at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. At LSHTM, she will study ways to better improve equity in research mentorship in low and middle income countries. Annabel will conduct research on mentorship and gather expert submissions from an open call study. The project will result in the publication of a practical guide focused on equity in research mentorship. 


You can find 2022 Burch Fellows project posters and videos on our Past Burch Fellows page. 


Read more about the Burch Fellowship here.