Two Johns Hopkins University students will spend the next year pursuing graduate degrees in the United Kingdom after winning the highly competitive Marshall Scholarship.
Quenton Bubb, a Johns Hopkins senior majoring in biophysics, will be studying in the Chemistry Department at Cambridge University. Anu Ramachandran, a third-year Hopkins medical student, will study Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Bubb and Ramachandran are among 32 U.S. students selected as Marshall Scholars this year out of 916 applicants. Funded by the British government, the prestigious scholarship allows high-achieving scholars to undertake postgraduate studies in the U.K. program of their choice, with the goal of nurturing future leaders and strengthening British-American collaborations.
For Bubb, the Marshall Scholarship offers a chance to join the world-class research lab led by Jane Clarke at Cambridge, where he'll study the biophysics of intrinsically disordered proteins. In the future, Bubb intends to pursue both an MD and a PhD in molecular biophysics, with the hope of advancing clinical treatment of diseases like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Another factor that made the Marshall Scholarship appealing to Bubb, he says, was the opportunity to build a "platform for improving the situation for black men and women in STEM"—the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math fields.
"The statistics of blacks in STEM are pretty bleak," Bubb says, describing his "lifetime goal" as working to improve this disparity and serving as a mentor for black scientists. Building connections in both the U.S. and the U.K., he says, "will open doors."
Bubb, who is from Brooklyn, New York, and will graduate from Johns Hopkins next month, credits his work with Karen Fleming, a professor of biophysics, as a backbone for his career goals. As a junior last year, he won the prestigious UNCF/Merck Undergraduate Science Research Scholarship, awarded to minority students pursuing careers in science and engineering.
Ramachandran, who plans to take a year off from her pursuit of a medical degree at JHU to study in London, says she sees the scholarship as a chance to augment her clinical background with "a bigger picture of advocacy research and policy work around global health and refugee health."
At Hopkins, Ramachandran has served as director of the student-run Refugee Health Partners, which works with the International Rescue Committee of Baltimore to aid newly arrived refugees with chronic and complex medical conditions.
She says she's interested in expanding her knowledge, from a global policy perspective, on "all parts of the journey" of a refugee's health challenges once they settle in a new country, where they often face "barriers to accessing and understanding a new healthcare system."
As an undergraduate at the University of Southern California, where she majored in neuroscience and philosophy, Ramachandran founded a chapter of GlobeMed, which pairs students with grassroots NGOs around the world. She also interned for two months in Tanzania, working on HIV education issues.
At the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Ramachandran, who is from San Jose, California, plans to conduct research in the Public Health in Humanitarian Crisis Group led by Karl Blanchet.
Both Bubb and Ramachandran also cited the opportunity to live and do research abroad, as well as the long-term professional connections the Marshall Scholarship fosters, as attractions to applying for the program.
Founded in 1953, the Marshall Scholarship was designed to commemorate the Marshall Plan, the U.S. government program that assisted in reconstructing Europe after World War II. The award was envisioned as a co-educational alternative to the Rhodes Scholarship, which excluded women until 1977.
The ranks of the more than 1,800 Marshall Scholar alumni include Supreme Court justice Stephen Breyer, three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman, former Arizona governor and U.S Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, and current White House legislative affairs director Katie Beirne Fallon.