You are here

On the menu: Ideas and inspiration

Quarterly Lunch and Learns bring Hopkins’ Bloomberg Scholars and Bloomberg Distinguished Professors to the table
Posted December 11, 2017
  • Bloomberg Distinguished Professor Sabine Stanley (pictured left side, second from end) told Bloomberg Scholars that she didn't start her academic career with a grand plan, but rather an openness to try new things - a key to the success she's enjoyed.

  • 2003 Nobel laureate Peter Agre (center front) headlined the first Bloomberg Distinguished Professors/Bloomberg Scholars Lunch and Learn of the 2017-18 academic year.

  • "These opportunities to sit, listen, and share a meal with people who have gone through such important journeys in their lives has really renewed the hopes and dreams I had when coming to Hopkins," says first-year Bloomberg Scholar Kavya Anjur (right, with Peter Agre).

As she watched Bloomberg Distinguished Professor (BDP) Peter Agre sit down beside her, first-year Bloomberg Scholar Kavya Anjur did her best to hide her nervous excitement.

"Just a few months ago, I was in high school, and now, I was sitting right next to a Nobel Prize-winner," Anjur, a biomedical engineering major, recalls thinking. "It was like a dream."

Anjur and Agre joined sixteen other undergraduates for the first BDP/Bloomberg Scholars Lunch and Learn of the 2017-2018 academic year. The program brings together some of Hopkins' most promising students with some of its most accomplished faculty. The Bloomberg Scholars are part of a program established by Johns Hopkins alumnus, philanthropist, and three-term New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 1995 to provide competitive, need-based scholarships to undergraduates with outstanding academic ability and potential. The BDPs are recipients of chairs created by a $350 million gift from Bloomberg in 2013 to foster collaboration across Hopkins' many divisions to address major world problems.

The BDP/Bloomberg Scholars Lunch and Learns began last year to provide an informal space for students to interact with and be inspired by faculty to whom they may otherwise have limited access. Yet while hearing these brilliant scholars talk about their work is a draw, Anjur says the BDPs' personal advice resonated with her the most.

Agre, a graduate of the Hopkins School of Medicine, received the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of aquaporins — the "plumbing system of cells" — and directs the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute. But Anjur found it most fascinating that his prize-winning idea had roots in a conversation he had with a colleague while on a family vacation — something he almost never lets work get in the way of.

"He talked a lot about having balance, about doing what interests you, but making sure you're doing it for the right reasons," she says.

The second Lunch and Learn of the year featured Sabine Stanley, jointly appointed in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences and the Applied Physics Laboratory. Her research about magnetic fields is contributing to the understanding of water-rich "exoplanets" and whether they've ever hosted forms of life. Anjur appreciated Stanley's candor in admitting she entered college without a firm idea of what she wanted to do in life, but with an openness to try new things that has helped her find the path she's blazed with success.

This academic year's final Lunch and Learns will feature Vesla Weaver, a BDP in political science and sociology who will speak on racial equality, and Nilanjan Chatterjee, a BDP in public health and oncology who will speak on biostatistics and genetic epidemiology.

"The kinds of interactions these lunches provide show that the people here really care about us, the students, and being part of our networks," says Anjur. After the lunch, she says, she asked Agre to take a photo with her (he obliged) and they've corresponded via email a couple of times since. "These opportunities to sit, listen, and share a meal with people who have gone through such important journeys in their lives has really renewed the hopes and dreams I had when coming to Hopkins.

"I'm going to carry that with me, even after I graduate."