Presidential plaudits

Last modified: 5/4/2012 12:00:00 AM
Anupa Murali of Concord is building an impressive Rolodex, and next month she'll be able to add President Obama to the list.

Murali, 18, who can already say a Nobel laureate is her pen pal, was named Wednesday as one of the two Presidential Scholars from New Hampshire, an honor given to only 141 students across the country.

The award is among several Murali has collected this year. A senior at Bishop Brady High School, she has also been recognized at the state and national level for her performance in 14 Advanced Placement classes, and won the 2011 Siemens Award for Advanced Placement for exceptional performance in AP math and science.

The Presidential Scholar award 'is definitely a special honor because I'll get to meet President Obama,' she said.

Earlier this year, she was perusing some physics papers in her spare time and spotted a theory about the angles of spinning tops by Nobel laureate Walter Kohn.

'I thought it looked really neat. The first time I read it, it was completely over my head,' she said. 'Of course,

this bothered me, so I decided to plunge in and reread it and learn the math and understand it.'

She submitted a research project based on the paper to a competition (and won a spot as a semi-finalist), and emailed a copy to Kohn. A few months later, he wrote back, complimenting her work.

'That was very, very special,' she said. 'I didn't expect him to ever respond. It was something I did on a whim, and I was very happy when he emailed me.'

Murali credits her parents with teaching her time management, and for supporting her quest for dominance in math competitions since middle school.

'I am also driven by my own love for learning about the way the universe works and the math that describes everything that I see,' she said.

In between her studies, Murali likes to decompress by studying and performing Carnatic music, a classical south Indian musical style. She also plays the piano and violin - 'but not as often as I think I should,' she said.

She chose to attend Harvard next year over MIT, Cal Tech, Columbia and Princeton. Once there, she might study computer science and electrical engineering. She might continue her work with physics or she might take a pre-med course.

'Whatever comes, comes,' she said.

Her advice to students entering high school is to follow their passions.

'I would suggest one should just be as open-minded as possible to what they might truly enjoy in life,' she said. 'I haven't really had a very particular plan for my future. All I knew was that I liked math and science. I don't balk at saying whatever comes. I think that is the nature of life.'

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or or on Twitter @SpalermoNews.)

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