Matthew Baum ’09 and Rebekah Emanuel ’07 will be spending the next year in Ireland as winners of the Mitchell Scholarship, the Office of Fellowship Programs announced last week.
Baum and Emanuel were the third and fourth winners in Yale’s history to receive the Mitchell, a relatively new but selective scholarship awarded to 12 students annually for a year of study in Ireland or Northern Ireland. Selection for the scholarship is based on academic excellence, leadership and service to the community.
Baum — who is concurrently receiving bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology — transferred to Yale from Colorado College during his sophomore year. While at Yale, he has served as president of the wrestling team, co-coordinated the service group FOCUS on New Haven and played on the rugby team for a little over a year.
Baum has also worked in a laboratory that studies STEP, a protein that plays a role in learning and memory. Baum’s focus was on Fragile X syndrome, the leading cause of inherited mental retardation. Baum spent a summer in Belgium studying Fragile X, and his research led to a key finding: Lab mice with Fragile X exhibit an overabundant translation of STEP, which could lead to mental retardation, said professor Paul Lombroso, who runs the lab at Yale.
While in Ireland, Baum will study bipolar disorder at Trinity College Dublin, where he will receive a master’s in neuroscience. His interest in bipolar disorder is both academic and personal; Baum’s mother suffered from bipolar disorder until she passed away three years ago. Baum said bipolar disorder is woefully lacking in medical treatments, and he added that the research techniques he learned while researching Fragile X will help in the study of bipolar disorder.
Lombroso and professor Vinzenz Unger, both of whom recommended Baum for the scholarship, said he stands out for his genuine interest in neuroscience.
“What Matt will bring to Ireland is what he brought to my lab: his ability to work hard, his fascination with a question and his dedication to trying to understand the molecular basis of psychological disorders,” Lombroso said.
Emanuel, a member of Phi Beta Kappa and an Ethics, Politics and Economics major, left Yale between her sophomore and junior years to spend a year in Uganda, where she worked at an AIDS and cancer hospice. Upon her return, she founded the Bulldogs in Uganda program.
Since graduating, Emanuel has worked for the Ugandan Parliament and served as a Yale Fox Fellow in Israel, and will travel to India this year through a Simon Fellowship for Noble Purpose to work at a cancer hospice.
While in Ireland, Emanuel plans to receive a master’s in human rights law through a cross-border program at Queen’s University Belfast and National University of Ireland, Galway.
Emanuel is a perfect match for the program, sociology professor David Apter said, and her ability to understand the myriad factors in the African health system means she will bring strong analytical skills when studying discord in Ireland.
Recipients of the Mitchell scholarship are provided with tuition, housing, airfare, a living expenses stipend and additional funding for international travel.