Top Scholars

March 31, 2004

Pooja Kumar '01, a second-year student at Harvard Medical School, was selected as a Rhodes Scholar, and Ethan Eade was named a Marshall Scholar. Each award finances two years of study in the United Kingdom.

Pooja Kumar '01

 Britannia beckons: Kumar, above, and Eade. below

 
Brian Eade

Photos: top, JIm Wallace; above, Les Todd

 

Kumar discovered her life's work as a Duke sophomore. A lecture by journalist and author Philip Gourevitch inspired her to read his book, We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families, about the Rwandan genocide. "That book served as the instigation for me to delve further through my classes, thesis work, and work abroad into what happened in countries affected by war, why, and what the major health issues were," Kumar says. "This led to my becoming completely absorbed in the broader issue of health and war."

She plans to delve even further while studying at the University of Oxford, where she will pursue a master of philosophy degree in international relations. She plans to resume her medical studies after she completes her Oxford degree. The experience at Oxford, she says, will help her better understand the relationships between states and international organizations, as well as learn more about how the relationships between states lead to conflict.

This will be invaluable, she says, as she pursues her goal to be a practicing physician in the United States who works for a nongovernmental organization or international policy agency to improve humanitarian aid and health services for people affected by conflict. "I think everyone has to sit down at some point and ask, 'What are the most important questions or problems out there in the world? Where do my strengths, passions, and abilities lie? And where are the intersections?' For me, the field of health and war is where the intersections lie."

Kumar, who is from Doylestown, Pennsylvania, distinguished herself throughout her academic career at Duke. In the summer of 2000, she worked for the Save the Children Federation in East Timor. While there, she created a plan for a national maternal- and child-health outreach program, studied the plight of street children, and researched the psychosocial well-being of village children to support a program that Save the Children was putting into place.

As a Program II (self-designed curriculum) student, she developed a course of study in health policy and social values. She focused her intellectual pursuits, including her honors thesis, on the effect of war on health. She also co-taught a course in international health issues. After graduating with distinction, Kumar was awarded a Hart Fellowship with the International Rescue Committee in Azerbaijan. While there, she conducted comprehensive health assessments and educated health-care workers and community members.

Kumar has won numerous awards, including being named to USA Today's 2001 All-USA Academic first team. She also was recognized as a top U.S. student by Glamour magazine.

Duke senior Eade, from Timonium, Maryland, is a computer science and mathematics double major who plans to become a professor of computer science at a major research university. He will enroll in the engineering department at the University of Cambridge to pursue a master's degree in information technology.

While at Duke, Eade has been engaged in computer-network research with associate professor Amin Vahdat in the department of computer science. An A.B. Duke Scholar, he is the lead software engineer for the Autonomous Underwater Vehicle project of the Duke Robotics Club, a weightlifter, and a trumpet player in the Duke Symphony Orchestra.

Last spring, Eade was one of four Duke students selected for the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering. The $7,500 scholarship is a merit-based award given to undergraduates planning research careers in mathematics, engineering, or the natural sciences. This year, Eade also won a Faculty Scholar Award, which recognizes "intellectual leadership and a record of scholarly accomplishment."