Four Stanford students and two alumni will begin graduate studies this fall as Rhodes, Marshall and Mitchell scholars
The newly minted American Rhodes Scholars will study at the University of Oxford, the Marshall Scholars will study at Cambridge and Oxford, and the Mitchell Scholar will study at Queens University Belfast, Northern Ireland.
BY KATHLEEN J. SULLIVAN
Senior Varun Sivaram managed to ace an interview for a 2011 Rhodes Scholarship and watch most of the Big Game – after sprinting to a San Francisco sports bar in his suit to watch the Cardinal reclaim the Axe – last weekend.
"I went to Pete's Tavern, which unfortunately is a Cal-leaning establishment," Sivaram wrote in an email message. "I had on a bright red tie, which I waved obnoxiously. I caught most of the game, from the middle of the first quarter, and made a lot of noise after Andrew Luck's heinous hit and run."
Sivaram found out he'd won a Rhodes Scholarship that same evening.
"Really, this weekend gave me one of the two things that I really wanted – I'm still missing Andrew Luck's autograph," Sivaram joked in an email.
Sivaram is one of three 2011 American Rhodes Scholars who have ties to Stanford.
The other newly minted Rhodes Scholars are senior Fatima Sabar and alumnus Fagan Harris, '09.
They are among the 32 Americans selected as 2011 Rhodes Scholars representing the United States by the Rhodes Trust. The scholarships were created in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes, a British philanthropist and African colonial pioneer. The scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of study at Oxford; they may, in some instances, allow funding for four years.
The two 2011 Marshall Scholars are seniors Sasha Engelmann and Temple He.
The two Stanford students are among the up to 40 Americans who will be selected this year for the Marshall Scholarships, which typically cover two years of tuition, research, living and travel expenses at a British university of each student's choice. Information on the 2011 winners will be posted on its website this week.
Senior David Gobaud was named a Class of 2012 Mitchell Scholar.
Gobaud is one of 12 Mitchell Scholars chosen for the program, which provides one year of postgraduate study in any discipline offered by universities in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The scholarship provides tuition, housing, a living-expenses stipend and an international travel stipend. It is administered by the U.S.-Ireland Alliance and was named in honor of former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell's pivotal contribution to the peace process in Northern Ireland.
Fagan E. N. Harris, 23, Glen Burnie, Md., is a 2009 graduate of Stanford, where he earned bachelor's degrees in political science and American studies. He plans to pursue a doctorate of philosophy in education at Oxford.
Currently, Harris is completing a master's degree in human rights in criminal justice at the University of Limerick in Ireland as a Mitchell Scholar.
He also is working for an Irish government program dedicated to improving the quality of life for residents in two neighborhoods in Limerick City beset by serious social problems and high-profile criminal activities for many years.
At Stanford, Harris served as vice president of the Stanford student body and president of Stanford Students for Relief, where his efforts focused on flood relief in Pakistan and in the communities devastated by the 2005 Hurricane Katrina.
"I am deeply humbled and honored to be a Rhodes Scholar," Harris wrote in an email message. "I am also sincerely appreciative of all of the support I have received from Stanford, my wonderful family and friends, and from the Mitchell Scholarship. I am truly blessed."
Fatima I. Sabar, 22, of Ballwin, Mo., is a senior majoring in biology. She plans to pursue a master of science degree in global health at Oxford.
Currently, Sabar is writing her senior thesis, "Regulating the Biosynthesis of Benzylisoquinoline Alkaloids using a Synthetic Scaffolding System," which is based on using metabolic engineering to make medicines more affordable. [Benzylisoquinoline alkaloids are an important and diverse family of natural plant products that have a wide array of medicinal and pharmacological applications.]
Sabar also is working as a patient advocate and volunteer at MayView Community Health Center, which provides essential primary health care services to low-income families and individuals who live and work in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.
In addition, she is coordinating a diabetes health education project with migrant farm workers in Greenfield, in Monterey County's Salinas Valley. She works under the guidance of Gabriel Garcia, a professor of gastroenterology and hepatology at Stanford Medical Center; Ann Banchoff, program director of the Office of Community Health in the Stanford School of Medicine; and community leaders in Greenfield.
Sabar has worked as a researcher at the Stanford School of Medicine – in both a bioengineering lab and a neurology and neurological science lab – and as a researcher in a neurology lab at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.
She also has worked on a health project in Rwanda with Sustainable Health Enterprises, an organization that helps women start businesses manufacturing and selling sanitary pads. In addition, Sabar has volunteered in clinics in Oaxaca, Mexico with Child Family Health International.
"I cannot stress enough that I am indebted to my mentors for helping me to piece together my genuine passions, giving me ample opportunities to explore and grow, and supporting me throughout," Sabar said in an email message.
"I feel this tremendous responsibility, in a positive and challenging way, to never settle, particularly in the pursuit of progress in global health. I hope to take advantage of this opportunity by growing and learning from the world views of my peers, and gaining a rigorous understanding of the disciplines central to global health, as well as the challenges we must collectively overcome in order to make sustainable, effective change."
Varun S. Sivaram, 21, of Monte Sereno, Calif., is a senior majoring in engineering physics and international relations. He plans to pursue a doctorate of philosophy in solar energy materials at Oxford.
Sivaram, who was named a Truman Scholar earlier this year, was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa Society as a junior. In 2009-10, he served as chair of the undergraduate senate and as the student representative on the Faculty Senate. Currently, he is serving as the student representative to the Stanford University Board of Trustees.
At Stanford, Sivaram has won the Boothe Prize, which recognizes and rewards outstanding expository and argumentative writing by first-year students in the Writing and Rhetoric and Introduction to the Humanities programs, and an Edwin Cottrell Prize, which is given to outstanding political science students. Sivaram is a member of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honors society. In addition, he is the captain of Bhangra, an Indian dance team at Stanford.
Sivaram, whose career goal is to become an international climate negotiator, has studied energy policy, international strategic interaction and solid-state physics at Stanford. He has conducted engineering research in Germany and at the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory. He has two patents pending relating to solar energy design – one for a low-cost mounting structure for solar modules and another for a lamination procedure for thin film solar cells.
"I'm truly grateful to my recommenders, to the Bechtel Center and to my family and friends for the support they've given me," he said. "I think getting a Rhodes is less a personal achievement than a reflection of Stanford's commitment to realizing its students' potential. I'm really going to miss campus."
Sasha Engelmann, 22, of Pacific Palisades, Calif., is a senior majoring in earth systems (biosphere track) and English and French literatures. She plans to pursue a master of philosophy degree in geography and environment at Oxford.
Currently, Engelmann is working on an honors thesis, "Not Text But Texture: Olafur Eliasson in Dialogue with Mark Z. Danielewski." [Olafur Eliasson is an Icelandic installation artist; Danielewski is a contemporary American novelist.]
Last summer, Engelmann worked as a MAP Sustainable Energy Fellow with the Natural Resources Defense Council in San Francisco. During the fellowship, she wrote two independent papers on sustainable land management offsets in a future California cap-and-trade market. Her research was released to the California Air Resources Board for consideration for future policy, and will be published in the scientific journal Carbon Balance and Management later this year.
"My study of the cultural and critical dimensions of urban art has inspired further questions concerning the implications of economic and environmental policy in shaping future relationships between society and nature," she wrote in her Marshall application.
"I see my task as an analyst of geography and of poetry, a reader of ecosystems and linguistic patterns, a cartographer of watersheds and metaphors. My work in the intersection of these fields supports my passion for understanding the socio-cultural dimensions of the changing relationship between humans and nature, particularly as it is reflected in art and literature."
At Stanford, Engelmann served as 2008-09 president of the Climate Initiatives Group, part of Students for a Sustainable Stanford. That same year, she served as "sustainability adviser" to the sophomore class government. In addition, she served as a member of the core Visual Arts Team, which organizes student exhibitions on campus and is part of the Stanford Student Organizing Committee for the Arts .
As a sophomore, Engelmann won a Chappell Lougee Scholarship, which was designed for sophomores pursuing in-depth projects in the humanities, creative arts and qualitative social sciences. With that scholarship, she traveled to Berlin to study the site-specific artworks of Olafur Eliasson.
Temple He, 21, of Troy, Mich., is a senior majoring in math and physics. He plans to spend two years at Cambridge University, studying mathematics (Part III of the Cambridge Mathematics Tripos) during the first year, and pursuing a master of philosophy degree in condensed matter theory research during the second.
"My proposed research is on non-equilibrium statistical mechanics, where I will focus on the analytical aspects of dynamical systems and chaos," he wrote in his Marshall application.
"This field is unique in that it is also under active research by mathematicians, as new mathematical techniques are being developed to study chaotic systems, where traditional mathematical techniques often fail. Hence, by conducting research on the chaotic behavior of dynamical systems, I will tread the boundary between mathematics and physics."
Currently, He is writing his honors thesis, "The Quantum-Classical Transition of Lyapunov Exponents."
At Stanford, he is a violinist in the Stanford Symphony Orchestra. He also is the natural sciences section editor of the Stanford Undergraduate Research Journal, an annual peer-reviewed publication of research articles written by Stanford undergraduates from all academic fields.
Last summer, He served as a research intern at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, where he did theoretical work in dynamical systems and non-equilibrium statistical mechanics.
From July 2009 to March 2010, He did theoretical work in fundamental physics concerning inflation and super-symmetry under the mentorship of Shamit Kachru, a professor of physics and of particle physics and astrophysics at Stanford. The Journal of High Energy Physics accepted their paper, "Gravity Waves and the LHC: Towards High-scale Inflation with Low-energy SUSY" for publication in 2010.
David Gobaud, 26, of Las Vegas, Nev., earned a bachelor's degree in computer science at Stanford in 2010. He plans to pursue a master of laws degree (Human Rights and Criminal Justice) at Queen’s University Belfast.
Currently, Gobaud is serving as an intern at the White House Council of Economic Advisers, where his computer science skills are being used to increase efficiency.
Gobaud, who served as the 2009-10 president of the ASSU, launched the Stanford ASSU College Haiti Earthquake Fundraising Challenge, which has been joined by 27 partners and has raised more than $450,000. He also founded Students for Relief in Haiti, a student organization dedicated to long-term relief efforts and education following the devastating 2010 earthquake there.
Last summer, he worked as an Eben Tisdale Fellow – a public policy fellowship awarded to nine students nationwide – at the E-Luminate Group, an education consulting firm with offices in Arizona and Washington, D.C.
In 2008-09, he was the founder and director of Stanford Dance Marathon Hack-A-Thon, which allowed students to donate their computer science skills to nonprofit organizations.
As a Stanford student, Gobaud co-founded Flowgram, a Web 2.0, education oriented, communication and teaching platform. [Flowgram is no longer in business.]
In his essay for the Mitchell Scholarship, Gobaud wrote that he taught himself software programming as a teenager so he could design his own computer games.
Gobaud, who transferred to Stanford from the University of Nevada, Reno, in 2004 said his experiences at Stanford helped him see the unique opportunities presented by combining computer science and public service. He said he is especially interested in reforming the criminal justice system.
"The Queens University Belfast offers a program in human rights and criminal justice that would provide an international and progressive understanding of these issues," he wrote in his Mitchell application.
"Moreover, Queens University Belfast is of special interest because of Northern Ireland's Youth Conferencing Services, which is partly responsible for one of the lowest crime rates in the U.K. This program, which illustrates a more humane way of addressing juvenile crime, dovetails with my personal desire to see more of our youth engaged in service and in school instead of prison."
Students interested in the Rhodes, Marshall and Mitchell awards should contact either Diane Murk at firstname.lastname@example.org or John Pearson at email@example.com. The Overseas Resource Center, part of the Bechtel International Center, advises students on these awards and administers the campus process for Stanford.