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  May 13, 2002

High-Achieving Student to
Study With Top Researcher
By John Wray

Sean Hutchins entered UConn as a Nutmeg Scholar in September 1998. A graduate of Portland High School, Conn., he had achieved a perfect SAT score of 1600 and was the top SAT scorer in the state. He has maintained a grade-point average of 3.98 throughout his tenure at the University.

Class of 2002

Following graduation, Hutchins will be off to Edinburgh University, where he will embark upon a four-year Ph.D. program in cognitive science, the subject area that has been the focus of his research at UConn.

At Edinburgh, he'll study under Mark Steedman, professor and head of the Department of Cognitive Science, a leading expert in cognitive science, whom he met at a conference of the Cognitive Science Society at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. After Hutchins presented a paper on "Mapping the Syntax/Semantics Coastline," Steedman invited him to Edinburgh for further study.

Hutchins' studies in cognitive science have focused on psycholinguistic and connectionist networks, which he has researched under the guidance of Whitney Tabor, an assistant professor of psychology.

"I've always been fascinated by the way the mind works," says Hutchins, "and the more I find out about this extremely complicated subject, the more interesting it becomes."

In addition to his direct research in cognitive science, Hutchins has also explored the relationship between music and cognition, which has led him to study music theory and composition at UConn.

"Sean is one of the brightest students I've worked with," says Tabor. "He has an excellent ability to keep his balance when he's juggling many tasks. Almost entirely on his own initiative, he's conceived and carried out a senior thesis project that uses experimental methods and computer modeling to characterize the structure of people's mental representations of musical chords."

An active musician and singer, Hutchins has also participated in the University Chorus and was founding president of an all-male a cappella vocal group, "A Completely Different Note."

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