Christopher Finch ’14, Amherst College’s latest recipient of a Churchill Foundation Scholarship, intends to apply science to benefit a hungry planet, much in the way he conducted research to help fellow hockey players avoid injury. The scholarship will allow the Steamboat Springs, Colo., native to conduct research in plant bioengineering next year at the University of Cambridge in England. For Finch, this award comes toward the end of an Amherst career noted for excellence in science and its application to real-world issues.
In the fall of 2012, Finch, who plays forward for the Amherst men’s ice hockey team, developed and led concussion awareness workshops for youth sports coaches in the Amherst community, based upon research he conducted with Dr. James Hudziak the previous summer at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. His study, “Neuroanatomical Sequelae of Sports-Related Head Injury,” grew out of watching teammates having to endure months of recovery for traumatic brain injury. The hockey team now incorporates concussion-preventative neck strengthening into their training.
Elected into Phi Beta Kappa after his junior year, Finch is majoring in biochemistry and biophysics. He is a 2013 recipient of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and was an Amgen Scholar at the California Institute of Technology. This past summer at Caltech, Finch worked on a project involving optogenetics, a branch of neuroscience that uses a combination of techniques from optics and genetics to control and monitor living nerve cells. He was also the 2012 recipient of Amherst College’s Sawyer Prize, awarded to the sophomore who has shown the most promise in studying biology. He ended his first year at Amherst College winning the CRC Press Chemistry Achievement Award.
The above story is based on materials provided by Amherst College.