Two Johns Hopkins University seniors are heading abroad to complete their graduate studies in the U.K. after being named to this year's class of Marshall Scholars.
Starting next year, Jeremy Ratcliff will pursue his doctorate degree in infectious disease, immunology, and translational medicine at the University of Oxford. Chloe Pacyna will study human genetics, genomics, and disease at the Wellcome Sanger Institute at the University of Cambridge.
The Marshall Scholarship is a competitive annual award given out by the British Government to outstanding undergraduate students from the United States, allowing them to undertake postgraduate studies in the U.K. program of their choice. The Marshall Scholarship was founded in 1953 and was among the first U.S./U.K scholarship programs to be available to both men and women. Students are judged based on academic merit, leadership potential and ambassadorial potential.
Ratcliff and Pacyna were announced as winners today along with 46 other U.S. scholars.
Ratcliff, a senior molecular and cellular biology and public health studies major, said he was drawn to Oxford's practice of studying infection through the amalgamated lens of other disciplines.
"The interdisciplinary approach has been key in how I approach issues through my academic career," Ratcliff said. "They are focused on infectious diseases and immunology, but look at them through all of these other approaches like computational biology and epidemiology."
It was a summer spent in Madagascar in 2017 that Ratcliff cites as the most influential factor in his plans to study at Oxford. During that trip, he worked with a team of researchers from a variety of disciplines, opening his eyes to the value of multiple perspectives.
Following the post-graduate program, Ratcliff plans to return to the U.S. and attend medical school, becoming a practicing physician and establishing a career as a physician scientist. He said that while research will always be important to him and a key part of his future career plans, he is driven to maintain the interpersonal interactions that practicing medicine provides.
During her stay at the University of Cambridge, Pacyna will pursue a PhD in biological sciences. She will study somatic mutation and the genetic origins of pediatric cancers.
On her return to the U.S., Pacyna, who is currently studying biophysics and history of science, medicine and technology, intends to attend medical school, then continue her training in a combined pediatrics and medical genetics residency and pediatric oncology fellowship. Her eventual goal, she said, is to lead a research-driven pediatric oncology department to improve the standard of care for children with cancer, informed by her research at Cambridge.
This trip will be Pacyna's first time abroad, something she is both excited and nervous about. She said it is a huge honor to receive the scholarship, and the realities of the next four years are only now beginning to settle in.
"I think my family is even more excited than I am," Pacyna said. "My mom is nervous that I'm going to be in another country for four years, but on the whole, we're all very excited for this opportunity."
For more information about applying for the Marshall Scholarship through Johns Hopkins, visit studentaffairs.jhu.edu/fellowships/