AUSTIN, Texas — Grace Eckhoff, an undergraduate at The University of Texas at Austin, has been named a Marshall Scholar, one of 40 scholars from across the nation who earned the scholarship to study abroad in the United Kingdom.
Eckhoff is a Plan II Honors student in the College of Liberal Arts and an Honors biology major in the Dean's Scholars Honors program in the College of Natural Sciences. As a Marshall Scholar, she'll be pursuing a master of science degree in public health in developing countries at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
"Grace is one of the most impressive students I have known in my time at UT," says David Laude, dean for undergraduate education in the College of Natural Sciences. "She combines a powerful intellect with an enormous capacity to do good in the world. The fluidity with which she transitioned her research on antibiotics resistance from the Freshman Research Initiative laboratory to Afghan clinics and hospitals was a remarkable accomplishment."
Eckhoff grew up in Haiti, where her parents were doctors at a small hospital, and has shown an interest as an undergraduate in applying the science of molecular biology to the field of international public health. She spent summer 2008 in Afghanistan conducting the first study of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis infection rates in the country.
Working with the Afghan Ministry of Public Health and the country's National Tuberculosis Program, Eckhoff was able to collect more than 500 samples of sputum from TB-infected patients from around the country. She brought the samples, which represented five percent of the cases from each region, back to school in the fall, and analyzed them for evidence of drug resistant mutations in the lab of biochemistry Professor Andy Ellington.
"Grace Eckhoff is one of the most remarkable students I have met in my 36 years of teaching at the university," says Larry Carver, director of the Liberal Arts Honors Program and the Doyle Professor of Western Civilization in the Department of English. "A person of great integrity, Grace is gifted, preternaturally intelligent and passionately committed to serving the health needs of those living in impoverished conditions."
After her year at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Eckhoff plans to attend one of the medical schools to which she's been accepted, and intends to devote her career to improving conditions for people in developing nations.
"I am thrilled," says Eckhoff, "at the opportunity to study public health a at premier institution where the faculty not only teach about public health but are actively involved in improving the health of individuals all over the world."
The Marshall Scholarships, established in 1953, provide American students with the opportunity to attend graduate school at a top British university. Worth about $70,000, the scholarship covers the student's tuition costs, books, travel and living expenses. The British government pays all expenses.