Student Leadership

The Polymathic Scholars Student Leadership Panel hosts a variety of social, academic, and service events on and off campus. Among its signature achievements is the Texas Chautauqua Series, an annual campus-wide forum on issues of particular importance to Texans. Recent forums have concerned the controversy over how evolution should be taught in the state’s public schools, concealed carry legislation, the influence of major college football in higher education, and the pros and cons of taxing carbon emissions. Sophomores, juniors and seniors apply to join the coming year’s panel in April; freshmen may apply after their first semester. The 2024-2025 Chair is Neha Yawalkar.

The Polymathic Scholars Student Leadership Panel hosts its own  website and  Facebook Page.  




Vibha is a fourth year neuroscience major from Dallas, Texas. In her spare time, she enjoys hanging out with friends or curling up with a good book and a cup of tea (or fueling her coffee addiction). Outside of the Polymathic Scholars, she volunteers with SEAL and works as a mentor for her FRI, Bioprospecting 2.0 (the best lab). Her field is called "A Name for the Order: Ethnic Names in the U.S." and explores the experience of people with non-western names in the U.S. through a cultural and neuroscientific lens. She plans to go to graduate school for neuroscience after graduation. Vibha is a member of the Public Relations committee.



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Surendra is a fourth year Physics major pursuing the Elements of Computing and Entrepreneurship Minor from Hockessin, Delaware. Though he has not proposed his field yet, he is interested in designing his field around the science behind cultivating critical thinking. In addition to the Panel, he is involved in Longhorn Racing Solar and the Student Cluster Competition. In his spare time, he enjoys following sports, biking on trails, and watching movies.

Surendra is a member of the special programs committee.


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Katherine is a fourth year Biochemistry major from Dallas, TX. She hasn't determined her field yet, but she is particularly interested in topics surrounding gender and the Asian-American experience. She is currently working as a Women in Stem mentor and involved in a biochemistry lab with the Freshman Research Initiative. After she graduates, Katherine plans to attend medical school. Outside of school, she enjoys drinking coffee, reading, playing the piano, and dancing to her favorite kpop songs. Katherine is a member of the Small Events committee.


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David is a fourth year neuroscience and biochemistry double major from Garland, Texas. He is exploring his interests around the nervous system and its relation to personhood. On campus, he works in the Aptamer Stream Lab and as a First-Gen Equity Transition and Success Coach. In his free time, he likes to paint, play tennis, eat ice cream, read, and make song parodies. David is a member of the Outreach and Inclusion committee.



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Colin Johnson is a fourth- ear Polymath from Driftwood, Texas pursuing a degree in Physics. Although he has yet to create his field, Colin takes a particular interest in the intersection of astronomy and human development in the ancient world. He currently plans on attending graduate school after graduation. Outside of the Polymathic Scholars, Colin is a member of the White Dwarves FRI Stream. In his free time, Colin enjoys cooking, exercising, boxing, and playing Dungeons & Dragons with his friends. Colin is a member of the Small Events committee.




Rinka is a fourth-year Neuroscience major from Shanghai, China, pursuing a minor in business. Originally born in Japan, she is now fluent in English, Japanese, and Chinese. Rinka plans to design her field around the intersection of neurology and music therapy, as well as the connection between emotions and the body. Outside of Polymathic Scholars, she is actively involved as the president of the Japanese Association and has even formed her own band at UT. In her free time, Rinka loves watching animae and romcom movies, singing, occasionally composing her own songs, and swimming or playing tennis. Rinka is a member of the Outreach and Inclusion committee.


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Niels is a fourth-year Biochemistry and Plan II double major from Houston, Texas. Though he has not created his field yet, he is interested in exploring the philosophy of science. Outside of Panel, he is the president of Reading Aces, an editor for the Texas Triple Helix journal, and a scriptwriter for the Polymathic Scholars’ very own The Unfinished Mind. He also enjoys powerlifting on UT’s team, teaching others French through UT PALS’ language circles, and learning other languages. After he graduates, Niels plans to attend medical school. Niels is a member of the Special Programs committee.



James is a fourth-year Computer Science and Mathematics double major pursuing a certificate in Quantum Information Sciences from Katy, Texas. He plans to design his field around the intersection of computer science and psychology or earth science. In addition to Polymathic Scholars, James is involved in ATX Science Olympiad, Chinese Student Association, and the Quantum Computing FRI stream. In his free time, he can be found binging sitcoms, trying to pet the raccoons, and attempting to break his MonkeyType record of 144.7 WPM. James is a member of the special programs committee.


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Katia is a fourth-year Polymathic Scholar from Houston, TX pursuing a degree in Chemistry. Her field is hopefully going to focus on the intersection between the culture of food, sustainability, and history. She is currently involved in the Texas Orange Jackets, Society for Advancing Gender Equity in STEM, and is an undergraduate researcher in the Rose Research Group. Outside of class, she enjoys baking and cooking everything, being with her family and friends, sports and exercise, crocheting, and travelling. She plans to go to graduate school to focus on food science and take her love for gastronomy worldwide. Katia is a member of the Small Events Committee.

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Haya is a fourth-year Polymathic scholar from Friendswood, TX who is pursuing a major in Biochemistry. Although she does not have a field yet, her interests are centered around nature-inspired design and biomimicry. On campus, she is involved in various sustainability-focused projects like Trash2Treasure and UT Outpost, where she serves as a volunteer. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, daydreaming, dissociating and watching dramas. She also enjoys experimenting with fashion and doing henna on her lovely friends. Haya is a member of the Public Relations Committee.





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Neha is a fourth-year Polymathic Scholar, pursuing a major in Biochemistry and a minor in Women and Gender Studies. She is a researcher in the SOGI: Health and Rights Lab, mentor in the DIY Diagnostics stream of the Freshman Research Initiative, Peer Mentor for the Jefferson Scholars Program, Team Manager for Project Advance Austin, Co-Founder of the Polymath Creative Collective Logistics Committee, and scriptwriter for The Unfinished Mind podcast. Born and raised in Edison, New Jersey, Neha now lives in Flower Mound, Texas. In her free time, she enjoys watching Bollywood movies, dancing K-pop choreographies, and volunteering at her hometown nursing home. She hopes to focus her thesis field on LGBTQ+ healthcare in India. Neha Yawalkar is the 2024-2025 Panel Chair.