Two Yale Students Win Marshall Scholarships for Study in the UK

Richard Prum and Mary Caswell Stoddard

Two members of Yale College Class of 2008 are among the 37 students nationwide to be awarded Marshall Scholarships for 2008.

The students are Mary Caswell (Cassie) Stoddard of Alexandria, Virginia, and Sabrina Snell from Washington, D.C.

One of three Yale recipients of a Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for 2007–2008 and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Stoddard is a biology major who has already distinguished herself as a researcher in the evolution of bird vision. In 2006, she presented her findings on avian color research at the North American Ornithological Conference in Veracruz, Mexico, and a paper she co-authored with Yale Professor Richard Prum, in whose ornithological lab she works, will be published soon in the American Naturalist.  With a National Science Foundation REU Fellowship, she spent 10 weeks this past summer at Shoals Marine Laboratory on Appledore Island off the coast of Maine doing research on gull behavior and ecology.

Sabrina Snell  

In addition to her academic achievements, Stoddard has pursued a number of extracurricular interests and is a dedicated leader in community affairs. She is an accomplished musician, who plays first violin in the Yale Symphony Orchestra.  As a junior, she founded the Yale Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Undergraduate Group (YEEBUG), an official University organization open to all undergraduates interested in the natural sciences.  The organization hosts student-faculty dinners and special tours, and actively promotes undergraduate involvement in the New Haven community, largely through volunteer work at Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History.  In the summer of 2006, Stoddard was selected to attend an international conference in France on peace, human rights and the environment.

Stoddard will receive her B.S. in May. She looks forward, she says, to using her Marshall Scholarship to pursue ornithology research at the University of Cambridge in the Department of Zoology.

An anthropology major, Snell has already spent several years in the field studying the political evolution of the Movement Toward Socialism (MAS) in Bolivia. She became fascinated by the labor movement in that country — which, she notes, is the poorest in South America — when she spent the year between high school and college there as an exchange student with the AFS Intercultural Program. Although she originally planned to study astronomy, when she came to Yale, she says, she soon shifted her focus to the unique political history of Bolivia, which has experienced 190 coups d’etat in its 200 years of independence.

Snell, who will receive both master’s and bachelor’s degrees when she graduates in May, is doing her senior project specifically on how unionism in Bolivia “transformed into political activism.” Having spent two out of the three summers of her Yale years in
Bolivia conducting research-which included an interview with the current president of Bolivia when he was a candidate-Snell has created a comprehensive “ethnography,” which, she explains, is a holistic study of a social group in its historical, economic, cultural, environmental and geographical context. This multidisciplinary approach to understanding the evolution of social and political movements is the hallmark of the Institute for Development Studies at the University of Sussex in the United Kingdom, where Snell intends to earn her M.Phil.  degree with her Marshall Scholarship. Snell hopes to become a consultant on policy issues.

Meanwhile, she will continue one of her favorite extracurricular activities in New Haven: tutoring children in the bilingual J.C. Daniels public elementary school.

Established by the British Parliament in recognition of the Marshall Plan, which helped Europe recover from the devastation of World War II, the highly competitive Marshall Scholarships are given to outstanding American students for two years of study in the United Kingdom.

It was previously announced that two students at Yale were recipients of Rhodes Scholarships for 2008.

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