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Pond Jumpers
Marshall and Rhodes scholars

Half a dozen MIT students with interests as varied as HIV research, economics, and astrophysics are headed to England this fall on Rhodes and Marshall scholarships. Both provide two years of full funding for graduate research, the Rhodes at the University of Oxford and the Marshall at any university in the United Kingdom. MIT has not had as many as six students selected for these prizes since 1999.

The Rhodes scholarship program offers two-year Oxford scholarships to some 89 students from more than 20 countries each year. Scholars—whose predecessors include former U.S. president Bill Clinton and basketball great Bill Bradley—must not only have achieved academic excellence but also, as founder Cecil Rhodes put it, “esteem the performance of public duties as [their] highest aim.” Marshall scholarships were initiated by the U.K. Parliament in 1953, as a gesture of thanks to the United States for aid received under the Marshall Plan. The program awards at least 40 scholarships to U.S. students each year and allows students to attend any U.K. university.

Laurel Yong-Hwa Lee ’05, named by Glamour maga­zine as one of its “Top 10 College Women” in 2004, will use her Rhodes scholarship to pursue a doctorate in clinical medicine at Oxford. “My potential project will be part of an effort to investigate the human immune response to HIV viral infection,” Lee says. Between shifts in the laboratory, she hopes to continue rowing and attend opera performances at the Royal Opera House.

Jessica Lee ’05, a Marshall scholar, has enrolled in a one-year program in biodiversity, conservation, and management at the University of Oxford. Her interest in the field stems in part from her Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program project on the molecular ecology and genomics of viruses that infect marine cyanobacteria. She plans to spend her spare time doing competitive ballroom dancing. As she says, “England is really the place to do ballroom dance.”

Brian Mazzeo ’05, also a Marshall scholar, will pursue a two-year degree in engineering at the University of Cambridge. Mazzeo took two years off from his undergraduate studies to do missionary work in Bolivia and then returned to MIT to focus on engineering, an early passion. “When I was a freshman in high school, I built a roller coaster out of toothpicks that was as tall as I was,” he says. His research at Cambridge will focus on modeling and processing electronic materials.

Virginia Corless ’05 will use her Marshall scholarship to continue her undergraduate research in astrophysics; she’ll pursue a doctorate at the University of Cambridge. She also maintains an interest in development studies. She minored in applied international studies and taught molecular and experimental biology to high-school students at Shi Shi High School in Chengdu, China, for four weeks in 2002 as part of MIT’s China Educational Technology Initiative.

Betsy Masiello, a 2003 Wellesley College graduate earning a master’s degree in technology and policy at MIT, will study financial economics at Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. Her MIT research focused on economic and technical aspects of identification, such as the authentication tools that verify people’s identities online. Masiello previously worked for the National Security Agency.

Javed Samuel ’04, Mng ’05, a Rhodes scholar who completed a master of engineering degree in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, will study mathematical modeling at Oxford, focusing particularly on financial applications. He is from Vieux Fort, Saint Lucia, and is excited to seek out famous cricket grounds when he finally arrives in England.

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