Marshalling a Pair of Scholars

March 31, 2005


On to Oxford: Heikamp, left, and Oshmyansky

On to Oxford: Heikamp, left, and Oshmyansky
Jim Wallace

An undergraduate and a medical student have won prestigious Marshall Scholarships, which will finance two years of study in the United Kingdom. Emily Heikamp of Metairie, Louisiana, a senior majoring in biology, and Alexander Oshmyansky, a second-year medical student from Littleton, Colorado, both plan to study at Oxford University.

Each year, up to forty scholars in the U.S. are selected to study either at the graduate or, occasionally, the undergraduate level in any field. Marshall Scholars are considered potential leaders and decision-makers. The scholarships are financed by the British government and are worth about $60,000 over two years.

Heikamp plans to continue her work on the molecular mechanisms of angiogenesis, the process by which tumors create the new blood vessels needed to grow or metastasize. She has conducted research in molecular immunology at Duke and at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Cambridge University. In addition to receiving topnotch training from a mentor at Oxford, she says she is looking forward to returning to Britain. "I really like the laboratory setting in the United Kingdom," she says. "At 10 a.m. and at 3 p.m., everyone stops working for teatime. In the United States, when you work in a lab, you work all day long--maybe you take a break for lunch."

During teatime, she says, she was able to meet people working in other labs who discussed their work or the latest scientific articles. Heikamp, an A B. Duke Scholar and a Barry M. Goldwater Scholar, received Duke's 2004 Faculty Scholar Award. In 2003, she founded the Triangle Undergraduate Research Symposium--the first multidisciplinary, collaborative, undergraduate research conference in North Carolina.

Oshmyansky is in his second year at Duke Medical School. He is interested in computational neuroscience, the mathematical modeling of the brain. "I want to figure out how the pathways of the brain work," he says. He plans to earn a degree in mathematical biology at Oxford and then return to Duke to finish medical school. Eventually, he says, he wants to be an academic neurosurgeon, splitting his time between research and clinical practice.

Oshmyansky, who is twenty, graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a degree in biochemistry after just one year. He received the Boettcher Scholarship, the most prestigious merit-based scholarship available to graduating high-school seniors in Colorado.