After last year’s drought, the floodgates are opening at Yale to an unprecedented number of Luce Scholars.

Charles Edel ’01 GRD ’11, Ian Simon GRD ’08 and Micah Ziegler ’08 are three of 18 candidates nationwide chosen this year by the Henry Luce Foundation for the highly selective Luce Scholars Program, the International Education and Fellowship Programs office announced last week. The program provides stipends and internships for those with little previous experience with Asia to live and work on the continent for 10 months after the completion of their undergraduate education.

Although one Yalie was chosen as a Luce Scholar in 2006, no Elis were selected for 2007-’08, making this year’s results all the more impressive.

Helene Redell, vice president of the Henry Luce Foundation and director of the Luce Scholars Program, said in a phone interview that this year marked only the second time in the program’s 34-year history that a school has had three scholars in a single year.

All three of Yale’s candidates underwent a long and rigorous selection process involving two rounds of national interviews, the second of which consisted of seven individual interviews with a panel of advisors to the Henry Luce Foundation.

“Our three Scholars are extraordinary students and have been active members of the Yale community,” Linda De Laurentis, fellowship director of Yale’s International Education and Fellowship Programs, wrote in an e-mail. “They have clearly defined career interests and have already demonstrated significant leadership ability and the potential for professional accomplishment in their respective fields.”

Although Edel, Simon and Ziegler have yet to find out the location of their internships, previous locations have included cities in almost every country in East and Southeast Asia, with recent Luce Scholars interning with entities such as the Japanese Diet and Peking University. The candidates work with the Henry Luce Foundation to determine where exactly they will intern.

Edel taught in the New York City public school system and served as a research assistant in U.S. foreign policy at the Council for Foreign Relations, a nonpartisan foreign policy think tank, before returning to Yale to pursue his Ph.D. in American history. He said he is particularly interested in the origins and role of American foreign policy.

“Without understanding place and people, a culture is impenetrable and developing smart policy impossible,” Edel said. “The Luce Scholars Fellowship is unique in allowing me to combine my study of American foreign policy with a deeper understanding of China and its people.”

Simon, a doctoral candidate in microbiology who has previously traveled abroad to conduct primary healthcare research in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico and is currently completing his thesis project on viral vectors and vaccines, said he views the Luce Scholars Program as an opportunity to move out of the laboratory and focus on implementing science and technology policy.

“It’s not every day that someone gets to spend an entire year in Asia with such flexibility for research,” Simon said.

Ziegler is a former co-chair of the Yale Student Environmental Coalition and a director of the Yale Climate Campaign, a student group committed to combating global climate change through sustainable energy policies. He said he hopes to spend his time in Asia studying the impact of scientific advances and policy changes on the environment.

“The Luce Scholars Program will provide me with an opportunity to learn about a region of the world which is vital to my goals,” Ziegler said. “To develop environmental solutions that have a broader impact on the world, one has to consider countries with large populations, such as those found in Asia.”

“A solution that might work in the United States may not be as effective, or as culturally or politically acceptable, in China or India,” he added.

A typical Luce Scholar spends approximately 10 months — from September until July of the following year — at his or her internship assignment.