Six students selected for the 2017 Burch Fellowship

Six students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were selected as recipients of the 2017 Burch Fellowship to pursue unique, and self-defined educational experiences anywhere off UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus.

The Burch Fellows Program was established in 1993 by a gift from UNC-CH alumnus Lucius E. Burch, III. Its purpose is to recognize undergraduate students at Carolina who possess extraordinary ability, promise, and imagination. The program supports students who 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 be one that will 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.


Madrid K. Danner-Smith, class of 2018, is from Newark, NJ and curated his own interdisciplinary studies major in user interface design and is pursuing a double minor in entrepreneurship and African-American Studies from the College of Arts and Sciences. This summer he will be doing research in Jamaica while based at the University of the West Indies. Through interviews and documentation, he will study how integral food is to the cultural identity of a people. His focus will be primarily on Pimento, a spice indigenous to Jamaica, but used all over the world.


Ad Lane, class of 2018, is from Holly Springs, NC and is majoring in anthropology and geography with a minor in neuroscience from the College of Arts and Sciences. He will spend the summer at the World Expo in Astana, Kazakhstan seeking to document the presentation of Kazakh culture. Using artisanship as a lens as well as a camera, he hopes to contrast bottom-up and top-down depictions of culture to answer questions of what it means to be Kazakh in a state defined by its diversity and ex-Soviet roots.


Manisha Mishra, class of 2018, is from Mooresville, NC and majors in biology and chemistry with a minor in medicine, literature, and culture from the College of Arts and Sciences. This summer she plans to conduct a qualitative research study about the impact of Narrative Medicine on the training of our future clinicians in New York City. She will work to help evaluate whether the program being implemented is a successful model for instilling empathy within the doctor’s in training.


Trevor McPherson, class of 2018, is from Southern Shores, NC and is majoring in biology and music with a minor in neuroscience from the College of Arts and Sciences. He hopes to increase cross cultural literature in musical neuroscience with studies on non-western music’s effect on the brain. He plans to travel to Bali, Indonesia to study Gamelan Music in a culturally immersive way to prepare him for future cross cultural neuroscience research on rhythmic entertainment.


Ryan Rowe, class of 2018, is from Durham, NC and is majoring in music and Slavic and eastern European languages and cultures from the College of Arts and Sciences. He will conduct ethnomusicological and folkloric research during an eastern European expedition in Lyadovichi, Belarus and Akhiny, SIberia. He hopes to gain a better understanding of song culture during the Russian Revolution through his Burch Fellowship.


Max Taylor, class of 2019, is from Chapel Hill, NC and a psychology major in the College of Arts and Sciences. This summer, he will spend his fellowship learning from the best improv institutions in the world: Second City and Improv Olympic in Chicago, Illinois. Max is a part of CHiP (Chapel Hill Players), UNC’s longest-running and most competitive improv troupe. He plans to use his experiences this summer as preparation to audition for the 10 conservatory program after he graduates from UNC. The comedy conservatory is designed for college students to hone their skills in hopes of reaching the professional level and boasts Tina Fey and Stephen Colbert as alumni.

Read more about the Burch Fellowship here.