Two Princeton seniors, one Oxford student awarded Sachs Scholarship

Princeton seniors Alice McGuinness and Nathalie Verlinde and University of Oxford student Jack Nunn have been named recipients of the Daniel M. Sachs Class of 1960 Graduating Scholarship, one of Princeton University’s highest awards.

McGuinness has been named as the Sachs Scholar at Worcester College at the University of Oxford, and Verlinde has been named as the Sachs Global Scholar. Nunn will spend next academic year as a Sachs Visiting Scholar at Princeton.

The Sachs Scholarship is intended to broaden the global experience of its recipients by providing them with the opportunity to study, work or travel abroad after graduation. It was established by classmates and friends of Daniel Sachs, a distinguished Princeton student athlete in the Class of 1960 who attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Sachs died of cancer at age 28 in 1967. The award is given to those who best exemplify Sachs’ character, intelligence and commitment, and whose scholarship is most likely to benefit the public.

Alice McGuinness

Alice McGuinness

McGuinness, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, plans to earn two master’s degrees while at Oxford, one in modern South Asian studies and one in forced migration and refugee studies.

A history major at Princeton pursuing certificates in South Asian studies and gender and sexuality studies, McGuinness ultimately hopes to attend law school and work in international migration law.

“I am immensely grateful for this opportunity  — and for all of the mentorship I have received at Princeton,” she said. “I feel deeply indebted to my professors, residential college staff, and peers for their support, which has made it possible for me to thrive at Princeton in ways I never imagined possible. I hope to use my studies at Oxford to become a stronger advocate.”

Professor of History Michael Laffan, the Paula Chow Professor in International and Regional Studies, said he expects McGuinness to excel at Oxford. “I can see Alice … continuing to help others as she lives out Princeton’s motto in a spirit of genuine compassion and consistent hard work,” Laffan wrote in a letter of recommendation.

McGuinness said her commitment to migrant and refugee rights is rooted in her experience studying in India her junior year of high school through a U.S. Department of State scholarship, as well as in her academic and service experiences while at Princeton.

“Earning master’s degrees at Oxford would enable me to combine my commitments to immigration legal advocacy and deep learning across the boundaries of language and culture,” she wrote in her essay for the Sachs Scholarship.

McGuinness speaks Hindi, Urdu, Bangla and Spanish, and received Critical Language Scholarships from the State Department to further her study of Urdu and Bangla.

She uses her language skills to support migrants and refugees through various projects and nonprofit work. She served as a research fellow for the Office of Religious Life’s Religion and Forced Migration Initiative and a project leader and English tutor for El Centro in Trenton.

McGuinness was a Liman Fellow at The Legal Aid Society’s immigration law unit and interned for UN Women’s civil society division. In 2020-21, she took a leave of absence to work as a community engagement assistant for Integrated Refugee and Immigration Services in New Haven, Connecticut.

“Many of the most meaningful connections I have made at Princeton have come through my work in tutoring children from recently arrived refugee families,” she said in her essay. “I have learned the difference it can make when advocates listen and communicate with migrants and refugees in ways that demonstrate care and attention to specific histories and cultures.”

McGuinness’ senior thesis examines the incarceration of women and children in colonial Bengal, India. She received the Department of History’s Lawrence Stone and Shelby Cullom Davis Prize to support her thesis research, for which she traveled last summer to the British Library to study materials on the experiences of women and children in Indian colonial jails.

“As I have learned through conducting thesis research in the United Kingdom, Oxford holds vast resources related to South Asia, both in the past and in the present,” she wrote. “Oxford is the ideal place for me to bring together my interests in South Asian studies, carceral studies and the study of forced migration.”

Her senior thesis adviser, Associate Professor of History Divya Cherian, said McGuinness is exceptional in both her academic achievements and her “steadfast commitment to service.”

"Alice’s record shows that for her, fulfillment lies not just in professional or academic success but in applying her academic potential towards making the world a better place,” Cherian wrote in a letter of recommendation. “She truly represents and will work for Princeton’s best interests, which to my mind are inseparable from the best interests of society and humanity."

McGuinness is also the recipient of the history department’s Koren Prize and has served as a research assistant for Princeton faculty in the departments of anthropology and politics.

Outside of her academic work, she is a residential college adviser in Yeh College and a head writing fellow at the Princeton Writing Center. McGuinness also served as a student representative on the University’s most recent Middle States Re-accreditation Steering Committee.

Nathalie Verlinde

Nathalie Verlinde

Verlinde, of Princeton, New Jersey, plans to use the Sachs Global Scholarship to support cutting-edge research on Parkinson’s Disease at NeuroRestore in Lausanne, Switzerland. NeuroRestore develops technological interventions and treatments for neurological disorders, including Parkinson’s.

“What makes this scholarship so meaningful is that I will be able to not only conduct research but work at the clinical center at Lausanne Hospital and interact with Parkinson’s Disease patients,” Verlinde said. “It’s a truly unique opportunity to bring together my love of research and service by engaging with patients directly.”

Verlinde is majoring in molecular biology and pursuing certificates in neuroscience, applications of computing, and engineering biology. She is a four-year member of the varsity women’s lightweight rowing team.

The Sachs Scholarship will help connect Verlinde’s academic, athletic and service experiences.

“This year, I started volunteering to teach athletes with neurological disorders how to row,” she wrote in her Sachs Scholarship essay. “It has been an incredibly rewarding experience to see them derive the same joy and community that first drew me to the sport. … I hope my research can fulfill a similar goal in allowing Parkinson’s Disease patients agency and ownership over their own movement.”

After her year at NeuroRestore, Verlinde hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience and eventually become a professor.

“My goal is to eventually become a neuroscience professor so I can mentor, teach, and lead a lab to study the mechanisms underlying neurological disorders and develop new approaches to solving them,” she wrote. “I could imagine no better project to prepare me to take on this research goal and have a real impact in improving the lives of those with neurological disorders.”

During her time at Princeton, Verlinde has conducted research in faculty labs within the departments of neuroscience, computer science, and ecology and evolutionary biology. “My undergraduate research projects are motivated both by an intellectual excitement for the research and for their potential to have a long-term impact in improving the lives of others,” Verlinde wrote.

Associate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Lindy McBride, Verlinde’s senior thesis adviser, described Verlinde as “smart, intellectually independent, creative, determined, technically skilled, and a kind and generous person."

Verlinde’s thesis investigates the mechanisms underlying mosquitoes’ preference for humans, aiming to “better understand how small genetic differences in mosquito olfactory receptors may explain how some subspecies have specialized to bite humans over other non-human animal hosts,” Verlinde explained.

McBride said she is confident Verlinde will do great things in her career after Princeton.

Carlos Brody, the Wilbur H. Gantz III '59 Professor of Neuroscience, agreed and said Verlinde shows all the signs of one day becoming a “truly formidable research scientist.”

“Having Nathalie as a student was wonderful,” Brody said. “Her intelligence and curiosity shone through in her always seeming to have a deep and insightful question or observation at the ready.”

In addition to her academic and athletic achievements, Verlinde is a residential college adviser in New College West. She has also served as a peer tutor, head copy editor for The Daily Princetonian and an Outdoor Action Trip Leader. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she was a program manager for Hatch Tutors, which offered free online tutoring for lower-income K-12 students around the United States.

“As a residential college adviser and program manager for a tutoring nonprofit, I also found great fulfillment in having a small but meaningful impact in supporting others. These experiences have strengthened my goal to pursue a career where I can touch the lives of those around me,” Verlinde wrote.

Jack Nunn

Jack Nunn

Nunn is a second-year doctoral candidate in medieval and modern languages at Oxford. He plans to spend next academic year as a visiting graduate student in Princeton’s Department of History, where he will combine his academic research on medieval literature with his longstanding commitment to improve access to higher education.

“My mission to tackle the inequities and inequalities that structure access to higher education is rooted in my own upbringing as a first-generation, low-income student,” Nunn said in his Sachs Scholarship essay.

His project titled “Inclusive Pedagogies: Re-Imagining Educational Outreach with Medieval Francophone Manuscripts” will use medieval manuscripts as teaching tools to support greater participation in the arts and humanities. “Manuscripts offer a great entry point to university study, for they require students to think in new, unfamiliar directions,” Nunn wrote in his essay.

Helen Swift, professor of medieval French literature at Oxford, said Nunn is an outstanding scholar who will contribute to the Princeton community.

“His project makes excellent use of his skills and experience and is characteristically outward-looking, manifesting his profound commitment to inclusive education and cross-generational exchange,” Swift said.

Nunn has led humanities classes for disadvantaged middle and high school students in the U.K. and hopes to continue that work while at Princeton. “I’m excited to continue my academic research on medieval literature while working to design a new community-engaged outreach project, hopefully collaborating with Princeton’s Emma Bloomberg Center for Access and Opportunity,” he said.

Nunn added, “I will also continue my work on premodern poetry anthologies and spend time working with Princeton University Library’s Special Collections, particularly its treasure trove of medieval Francophone manuscripts.”

Kate Tunstall, professor of French at Oxford, said Nunn “is a truly outstanding student who won pretty much every prize available at Oxford and a national prize as well.” She said spending the year at Princeton will be a tremendous opportunity, of which Nunn will take full advantage. 

“It will not only allow him to keep in touch with what he loves, namely hanging out with medieval manuscripts— I see he has already identified the library shelf-marks! — but also enable him to develop ways of engaging a wider community and persuading them that … medieval manuscripts — and higher education more generally — are for everyone,” Tunstall said.

Nunn earned his bachelor’s degree in French and his master’s degree in medieval French at Oxford. As an undergraduate, he was awarded six university prizes, including the Gibbs Prize for best overall performance and the Worcester College Society Arts Prize. While earning his master’s degree, he received the Gerard Davis Prize for his dissertation and the Ogilvie Thompson Graduate Scholarship.

He is currently an Oxford tutor in French, teaching undergraduate seminars on medieval poetry, the environmental humanities and literary theory. He is also a graduate outreach lead for Exeter College and a languages ambassador for the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages. He has worked with Oxford’s First-Generation Society for students and alumni from first-generation college backgrounds and was an access and admissions representative at Worcester College.