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Six Marshall, Rhodes Scholars at MIT

By Kathy Dobson


Six MIT students were awarded scholarships to attend universities in the United Kingdom for the next two years.

Virginia L. Corless ’05, Brian A. Mazzeo ’05, and Jessica A. Lee ’05 each won Marshall Scholarships, which allow them to study at any university in the U.K. Elizabeth Masiello G, Laurel Yong-Hwa Lee ’05, and Javed K. Samuel G were awarded Rhodes Scholarships to study at Oxford University.

In total, 40 Marshall Scholarships and 47 North American Rhodes Scholarships were awarded this year. The scholarships each had about 900 applicants.

Scholars to pursue interests

Corless, who plans to pursue a doctorate in astrophysics at Cambridge or Oxford, said that she was ecstatic when she heard about the scholarship.

“Studying in the U.K. for a PhD is ideal for me because I’m heading in a policy, applied science direction as opposed to academia,” Corless said. Her goal is to “get into the real world after I finish,” possibly pursuing international science policy or consulting. Corless said she was interested in bring technology into the developing world.

Jessica Lee, who plans to attend Oxford or University of Wales to study environmental conservation, said that when she found out she won the scholarship, she was “shocked, really, because I didn’t think I had a chance.”

Lee has been an active member of environmental groups at MIT, and she said she hopes her studies overseas will help her “better understand how to protect the environment.” She eventually hopes to get a Ph.D. in marine science, microbiology, or biochemistry.

Mazzeo said he was “bouncing off the walls” when he heard he won a Marshall scholarship. “It is one of those things that doesn’t quite hit you for a while,” he said. Mazzeo plans to study thin-film electro-materials. His current undergraduate research with Professor Akintunde I. Akinwande in the Electrical Engineering Department involves modeling of organic based semi-conducting devices.

Mazzeo said that his eventual goal is to become a professional researcher in academia or industry.

Samuel, who will use his Rhodes scholarship to pursue a M.S. in mathematical modeling and scientific computing at Oxford, said he was surprised, but “happy I was able to achieve that.”

L. Yong-Hwa Lee, who plans to study tropical medicine and infectious diseases, said that the Oxford program will allow her to interact with patients from tropical countries such as Kenya and Thailand. She plans to study either cerebral malaria, or type II HIV, which would combine her two majors, Course IX (Brain and Cognitive Sciences) and Course VII (Biology).

Lee became interested in diseases in the developing world during an IAP trip to Honduras her sophomore year. “Infectious diseases are probably the most important issues there,” she said, since “they can affect a large population in a short amount of time.” After spending two years at Oxford, Lee plans to come back to the U.S. to go to medical school.

Masiello, a graduate student in Engineering Systems Division, plans to study information technology at the Oxford Internet Institute. She is interested in privacy on the Internet and the societal implications of technology and the Internet. She said that Oxford’s program takes a “more sociological approach” and she hopes to learn from a different perspective.

“Oxford has got so much diversity,” she said. There is “a lot to be learned by just being there.” Though Masiello does not know what she wants to do directly after her studies in the U.K., she said she eventually wants to go into public service.

In addition to pursuing their studies, the Rhodes and Marshall scholars act as ”representatives of our country, ambassadors to the U.K.,” said Professor Lin Hobbs, chair of the MIT Foreign Scholarships Committee, who was a Marshall Scholar from 1966 to 1969.

U.K. offers diversity, culture

Many of the scholars are excited to experience a new culture and pursue their extra-curricular activities in the U.K.

“I’m excited to see something new, to live in a new place,” said Jessica Lee.

“Opera is one of my favorites,” said Yong-Hwa Lee, and she is excited to visit the Royal Opera House.

“I’m also very excited about rowing at Oxford,” Lee added.

Samuel is also excited about the U.K. culture. “My entire education before MIT was based on a British system,” said Samuel, who is from St. Lucia in the Caribbean. In addition to his studies, Samuel looks forward to following some U.K. sports. “It will be great to have more people to discuss cricket with.”

“We would love more students to apply for these,” said Hobbs. The application processes for Marshall and Rhodes include four and eight recommendations, one and two interviews, and one and two essays, respectively. The minimum GPA is 4.7.