As the fall semester draws to a close, a number of seniors preparing for life outside of the College were announced as fellowship winners. Nine members of the class of 2010 were awarded College-funded fellowships and Aroop Mukharji ’09 was announced a Marshall Scholar through national competition. All 10 will be continuing studies overseas in England next year.
The Office of Fellowships, along with faculty and alumni selection committees, awarded nine seniors fellowships to pursue graduate study in England for two years. After reviewing the applications of 22 applicants and interviewing 11 finalists, the two committees awarded the Dr. Herchel Smith fellowship to Nathan Benaich ’10, Lizzy Brickley ’10, Ruth Ezra ’10, Leah Katzelnick ’10, Jun Liu ’10, JosÃ© Martinez ’10, Scott Olesen ’10 and Asheque Shams ’10. Recipients of the Herchel Smith fellowship will continue their studies at Cambridge for two years. Zachary Miller ’10 was awarded the Martin-Wilson fellowship, giving him the opportunity to study at Oxford’s Worcester College.
Benaich plans to study and research biological science at the Cancer Research U.K. Cambridge Research Institute. He intends on “[investigating] the role of epidermal stem cells in skin cancer pathogenesis,” he said. A biology major, Benaich hopes to continue his studies in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine as a physician-scientist one day.
Brickley will be studying environmental studies and development as well as public health. “I am fascinated by the challenge of addressing the mounting environmental and humanitarian pressures presented by climate change,” she said.Â “In particular, I want to focus my studies on mitigating the water-related health effects, like water insecurity and shifting burdens of infectious diseases, associated with climate change.” A biology major and maritime studies concentrator, Brickley aspires to pursue a career as a representative to an international environmental agency.
Ezra is an art history major and cognitive science concentrator and plans to study the history and philosophy of science. After studying with the Williams-Exeter Programme in Oxford last year, she is eager to return to England. “I was really taken with the Oxbridge model of self-directed study. I am excited to return to that system,” she said. “Moreover, being positioned in Cambridge will afford invaluable access to the art worlds of London and the continent.” Ezra intends on returning to the U.S. after her time at Cambridge to pursue graduate work in the history of art.
Like Brickley, Katzelnick is also interested in studying public health. “I decided I wanted a degree in public health during my semester abroad, when I became obsessed with the idea that health is inextricably connected to all major world issues, be it political, economic, environmental or social,” she said. An anthropology major who is also a global health concentrator, she intends on studying public health during her first year and development studies during her second.
Liu, a biology major, will be beginning a pursuit of a neuroscience Ph.D at Cambridge. “My projects will focus on characterizing a newly discovered group of adult stem cells in the fruit fly central nervous system, as well as exploring their effect on neuronal regeneration,” Liu said. Through her time at Cambridge, she hopes to sharpen her research skills and “become well-versed with the most advanced genetic tools, which are essential for investigating human neurogenetics in the future,” she said.
Martinez, a political science and history major as well as an international studies concentrator, will be focusing on pursuing an M.A. in politics during his first year and a certificate in Extra-European history during his second, all while concentrating on these subjects in the context of the Middle East. “I hope to gain a more rigorous understanding of some of the topics and questions I have encountered while at Williams,” he said. “My time in the United Kingdom will also expose me to a different intellectual tradition, where educational methods are more akin to the ones I encountered as a secondary school student in Puerto Rico.”
“There are subjects that I did not have the opportunity to study or research at Williams due to our small size, and Cambridge’s very wide curriculum will help me make up for that with the theoretical physics and specialized research I’ll be able to do,” Olesen said. The physics major will study theoretical physics in his first year and pursue a research-based physics degree in his second with the aspiration to eventually become involved in the administration and leadership of scientific organizations in the U.S.
Shams plans on studying development studies and South Asian studies next year. “I will be studying the causes and political consequences of the genocide committed by Pakistan in Bangladesh in 1971,” he said. The political economy major looks to become involved in politics or public service in the future and sees the development studies program as a useful tool.
As the only Martin-Wilson fellow, Miller will be studying developmental economics and global governance and diplomacy at Oxford. “Several of my closest friends growing up joined the Marines just after high school, and witnessing their commitment and sacrifice has really motivated me,” said Miller, an economics and history major as well as a leadership studies concentrator. “I want to explore ways to avoid the need to rely on the use of military force and to reduce the negative footprint our military leaves behind when it is needed.”
The selection process for the College-funded fellowships began following the mid-October application deadline. After the faculty selection committee evaluated of all the applications, it produced a short list of finalists, who were then interviewed by both the faculty selection committee and an alumni selection committee comprised of recent College graduates who have studied at either Cambridge or Oxford. This year’s fellows received the announcement via e-mail on November 30.
Mukharji learned that he had been awarded the Marshall through a phone call during a day of work as a junior fellow at a think tank in Washington, D.C. “I recognized the number, so I picked it up and shuffled to the break room . . . [Chair of the Marshall Committee Doug] Foy informed me that I received the scholarship, and my immediate vocal reaction was some garbled gibberish mixed with spit and disbelief,” he said.
The Marshall Scholarship dates back to 1953 when, in an effort to commemorate the Marshall Plan, the U.S. effort to rebuild Europe after World War II, the British Parliament passed an act to provide a number of U.S. students the opportunity to study for two fully-subsidized years at any British university of their choice. Mukharji is one of 35 recipients picked nationwide by this year’s selection committee. He will be studying international relations at the London School of Economics during his first year and peace and conflict studies at King’s College in London during his second.
Mukharji, who is hoping to pursue a career in global politics and international law, is interested in the intersection of law and politics in the international arena. “International relations exists in theories and essays that are written with the academic luxuries of hindsight and distance,” he said. “Law, on the other hand, is a more immediate social construct that is constantly revised, reinterpreted and deconstructed, sometimes followed and sometimes not. The two spheres inform each other and are inextricably linked, but are also often remarkably difficult to reconcile.”
In his time abroad with the Marshall Scholarship, Mukharji aspires to play a role in developing the body of international law and hopes to better understand the dynamics between global politics and international law through continued study and field work.
“The Marshall Scholarship emphasizes the idea of ambassadorship â€“ this will be a valuable experience for me in that regard as well, as a sort of representative of the U.S. to the U.K.,” Mukharji said. “In these ways, different in form than the academic training, I’ll get more help understanding the world a little better.”