Senior Duke Yasa Baig and James Marek were selected from a class of 41 students from across the country to receive the prestigious Marshall Scholarship.
The Marshall Scholarship is a comprehensive program covering the tuition and living costs of American students pursuing graduate studies in the United Kingdom. The admissions process is very selective, as around 40 Marshall scholarships are awarded each year out of 1,000 applicants approved by the university.
Meet James Marek
Marek, from Yardley, Pa., Will attend the University of Edinburgh to study operations research. At Duke, he majored in civil engineering with a minor in economics.
Outside of class, he worked with Duke Engineers for International Development, where he had intellectually meaningful and philanthropic experiences on campus. The summer after his freshman year at Duke, Marek traveled to Uganda with DukeEngage to oversee the construction of vehicular bridges and engage with the local community. As a Bass Connections Fellow, he also helped build early warning systems for earthquakes in Kathmandu, Nepal.
In his work as an engineer, Marek finds himself motivated by “the big interesting questions, difficult to answer… and trying to find an answer,” he said. He attributes his success in his research to his willingness to find answers.
Marek was drawn to the Marshall program because it offered the opportunity to travel abroad, he said. The reduction in study abroad caused by the pandemic inspired him to experience something he had missed. He was also drawn to the community, which he found exciting because of the “diverse skill set that all Marshalls come from,” Marek said.
Marek enjoys spending time with his friends and expressing his creativity in his spare time, especially through videography. His classroom work on iMovie projects helped him develop skills that led him to make a film of his road trip through the Great Smoky Mountains. He hopes to continue exploring videography in the spring semester.
Meet Yasa Baig
Baig, from Foxborough, Mass., Will go to the University of Cambridge to study biological physics for his first year. He will then attend Imperial College London to study theoretical biological engineering for his second year, he told The Chronicle. At Duke, Baig majored in physics and computer science, with a minor in mathematics. He is also an AB Duke Scholar and has received the Goldwater Fellowship last year for his research.
Baig’s research in biological physics sought to understand why biological matter and non-biological matter work so differently.
“Biological systems, with the exception of all other matter in the universe, can generate a complexity, structure and scales that no other object can generate,” he said.
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He hopes to understand how this complexity works using theoretical and mathematical tools, which could have long-term impacts on the fields of biomedicine and bio-industry.
Baig spends time working with Duke Applied Machine Learning outside of class, a club he co-founded in his second year.
“I learned to program and a ton of computer science just by working on cool projects and first learned machine learning by just building stuff in my spare time,” Baig said. “When I arrived at Duke, I realized that self-directed, project-based learning by doing was something I thought other people might enjoy. “
DAML now has over 200 members and works with industry partners to help students solve problems.
Baig’s desire to study in the UK drew him to the Marshall Scholars program. He wanted to study in the country which, along with the United States, is “the engine of the vast majority of innovation. [in the Western world]”In the space of biophysics and bioengineering.
Millie Caughey is a Trinity freshman and news reporter.