A Stony Brook University senior and Hillel student leader has been named the winner of a Marshall Scholarship, which, along with the Rhodes Scholarship, is considered one of the most prestigious academic awards given in the U.S. Melissa Friedman, 23, of Great Neck, N.Y., is Stony Brook's first Marshall Scholarship winner in the university's 48-year history.
The award includes two years of funding for post-baccalaureate study in the United Kingdom. Friedman, a member of the Stony Brook Hillel student board who is majoring in physics, plans to pursue a doctorate in the Department of Atomic and Laser Physics at the University of Oxford.
Dr. Harold Metcalf, an internationally recognized physicist at Stony Brook who has mentored Friedman, recommended her for the Marshall Scholarship. He noted that in her journal Friedman "wrote things like 'Looking at physics problems in a real life setting is much different than in a textbook. I feel like I have a better understanding of what a formula means' and 'It can get kind of frustrating working for hours and hours at something at not feeling like you accomplished much. I can always say, though, that I learned from it,' which are very telling indeed about her progress and growth."
"I feel very honored to have been selected for this very prestigious award," Friedman said. "My greatest accomplishment was finding remarkable teachers and mentors like Professor Metcalf and the numerous others I have been privileged to work with throughout my undergraduate career."
Friedman was one of four Stony Brook-affiliated students out of only 10 nationwide who spent last summer working on advanced projects in laboratories in France and Germany as part of the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers, one of only two international programs of its kind funded by the National Science Foundation. In Germany, she studied frequency-comb technology for atomic clocks at the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics under 2005 Nobel Laureate Theodor Hnsch.
Friedman also worked with 2001 Nobel Laureate Eric Cornell during a summer research program at the University of Colorado's JILA Institute in 2004 and will be listed as a co-author on an upcoming research paper by Cornell. Last month, she presented some of her research at the Undergraduate Research Symposium at the joint meeting of the Division of Laser Science of the American Physical Society and the Optical Society of America, held in Tucson, Arizona.
The Marshall Scholarships are awarded annually to at least 40 U.S. college seniors. The scholarships were founded by an Act of Parliament in 1953 and are funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and administered by the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission in the United Kingdom.