Occidental Alumni Win an Unprecedented Two Marshall Scholarships
In a first for Occidental College, two alumni – Justin Anderson ’00 of Tigard, Ore., and Jessica Kirkpatrick ’02 of Albany, Calif. – have won prestigious Marshall Scholarships in the same year to pursue postgraduate studies in England.
The pair becomes the sixth and seventh Oxy graduates to win the prize since 1972. The twin feat is all the more impressive in that Marshall winners typically are from large research universities. The scholarship pays up to $60,000 over two years. Anderson and Kirkpatrick both plan to start their postgraduate work in October 2003.
Anderson, who earned a diplomacy and world affairs degree at Oxy, hopes to pursue a master’s degree in philosophy from the Department of War Studies at King’s College London. Kirkpatrick, who graduated with a physics degree from Occidental, plans to pursue a doctoral degree in particle astrophysics at the University of Sheffield. Both recipients are awaiting final word on their placement.
Anderson says he will research the relationship between policy-making and the science and technology of detecting nuclear weapons. “Many leaders pay lip service to promoting non-proliferation efforts, but it is questionable whether the policies they craft to deal with the threat fully leverage the tools at their disposal,” he says.
“In my studies I am particularly interested in looking at what systems other than satellites exist to identify nuclear weapons programs,” Anderson adds. “With satellite imagery increasingly intrusive, some states conceal their nuclear weapons programs by disguising facilities or placing them underground.”
Anderson, of Arlington, Va., is now a policy analyst for a large government contractor. He researches, writes and edits analyses of issues related to American commitments and obligations under arms control treaties, confidence and security building measures, and arms export agreements. He ultimately wants to work in foreign policy in Washington, D.C.
“Justin was a star in Oxy’s diplomacy and world affairs department,” said Larry Caldwell, the Cecil H. and Louise Gamble Professor in Political Science. “He served at the U.S. Mission at the United Nations in Occidental’s U.N. program, won a Carnegie Junior Fellowship to work on issues of nuclear proliferation after he graduated, and has tutored children in Portland, Los Angeles, New York and Washington.”
In winning a Marshall, Anderson follows in the tradition of Richard Falkenrath, a 1991 Occidental graduate and assistant professor of public policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. In December 2001, Falkenrath was named special assistant to the president and senior director for policy and plans with the Office of Homeland Security. He holds a doctorate in war studies from King’s College London.
Kirkpatrick says she will continue her research into dark matter, a substance that dominates the universe, yet hasn’t been seen or detected. With the aid of a National Science Foundation research grant, Kirkpatrick in 2001 spent six months at the University of Sheffield building a dark matter detector that will be installed in a northern England salt mine. She has been working in collaboration with Daniel Snowden-Ifft, an associate professor of physics at Occidental.
Kirkpatrick plans to take part in the University of Sheffield’s Directional Recoil Identification From Tracks (DRIFT) Project, which concentrates on the discovery of weakly interacting massive particles, a leading dark matter candidate. Several research groups have unsuccessfully attempted dark matter detection over the past two decades.
Also in 2001, Kirkpatrick won a $7,500 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship given to college seniors interested in pursuing careers in math, science and engineering fields. She ultimately hopes to become a research professor and head a large research group with international ties.
“I am fascinated by the translation of the enormously complex workings of the universe into equations, models, and theory,” Kirkpatrick said. “It is my professional goal to contribute to this body of language and inspire others to share in this sense of wonder and enthusiasm. Working on the DRIFT project has fueled a desire in me to push the boundaries of science.”
Kirkpatrick is now a post-baccalaureate research associate and an adjunct laboratory instructor at Occidental. Her research duties include authoring data analysis computer programs and serving as the primary data analyst for the DRIFT collaboration. She also teaches three sections of mechanics laboratory classes.
“Jessica is a marvelous example of what brains and hard work can achieve,” Caldwell said. “She is a physicist who has already worked near the cutting edge in research on dark matter. She was a student leader at Oxy and developed a great mentoring program working with students who have trouble learning in the sciences.”
Up to 40 Marshall Scholarships are awarded each year to American citizens who have graduated from a four-year college or university. The scholarships were founded by an act of Parliament in 1953 to commemorate the humane ideals of the Marshall Plan – the American program to rebuild a ravaged Western Europe following World War II.