Margaret Ebert ’03 and Simon Rodberg ’00 will both head to the United Kingdom next fall to follow in the footsteps of pioneers in their fields. Ebert’s model will be an evolutionary biology professor. For Rodberg, it will be James Joyce.
Ebert and Rodberg will spend next year in Great Britain after winning prestigious scholarships. Ebert, one of 11 national winners of the Churchill Scholarship, will spend the year at Churchill College at the University of Cambridge, studying directed evolution. Rodberg will attend University College Dublin to study Anglo-Irish literature under a Mitchell Scholarship. Both programs have become increasingly competitive in recent years, Assistant Director for UK Fellowships Mark Bauer said.
The Churchill Scholarship provides funding for engineering, mathematics and science students to attend Cambridge’s Churchill College for one year. The Mitchell Scholarship, established in 1998 in honor of former U.S. Senator George Mitchell, funds study for one year in Ireland.
At Cambridge, Ebert will work with Andrew Griffiths, a pioneer in the field of directed evolution. A Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology major, Ebert has worked in Professor Ronald Breaker’s lab since the summer of 2001, researching ways to modify RNA.
“While I was at Yale I was spending summers in labs here and school years on scholarship doing research in the lab, and I didn’t really have the opportunity to study abroad, which I wanted to do,” Ebert said.
After earning an M.Phil., a one-year research degree, Ebert plans to return to the United States for graduate school.
Bauer said he found Ebert’s level of scientific understanding overwhelming, but added that Churchill Endorsement Committee members — science professors — appreciated it.
“It’s not just that she talked really well about her own research and what she wanted to do,” Bauer said. “She just impressed them as someone who was going to contribute to the life of Churchill College in Cambridge more broadly as a musician, as a writer, as an outgoing person.”
Rodberg, who was an American Studies major at Yale, has worked as a journalist, teacher and novelist in Boston and New York since graduation. His main focus now is a novel, which he is in the middle of revising and hopes to finish before going abroad. He also tutors and volunteer-teaches a writing class for third- and fourth-graders at the Children’s Storefront School in Harlem.
“He captivated every member of the faculty with his enthusiasm,” Bauer said.
Rodberg said his interest in James Joyce was one of the reasons he applied for the scholarship, and that he was proud that James Joyce was an alumnus of University College Dublin.
“I’ve never been to Ireland, but it seems like a great place to be, and certainly Irish literature is one of the great literary traditions of the world,” Rodberg said. “There’s no better training for writing than reading. Spending a year thinking about literature is a very good thing to do as a writer.”