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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2004 / 12 

Student wins Marshall Scholarship for study at Cambridge

December 3, 2004

Virginia Tech senior Ashley White, an engineering researcher and concert violinist, has been selected to receive a 2005 British Marshall Scholarship for graduate study in materials engineering at Cambridge University in England.

White will graduate from Virginia Tech in May 2005 with dual degrees in materials science and engineering from the College of Engineering and music performance from the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. She is the daughter of Sheila and David Rose, of Newport News, Va., and Stephen and Susan White, of Ashland, Ore.; and the granddaughter of Mary White and the late Robert White, of Roanoke, Va., and of Warren and Mavis Boone, of Rocky Mount, Va.

The two-year Marshall scholarships, which are worth about $75,000 each and cover all graduate study and living expenses, are awarded to only 40 undergraduates in the U.S. each year. Marshall scholars are chosen for their accomplishments as intellectually distinguished undergraduates who will become future leaders and decision makers.

The scholarship program was established by an act of British Parliament in 1953 to expand the scope of the Rhodes Scholarship program and to commemorate the Marshall Plan for European recovery following World War II. The scholarships are funded by Britain's Foreign & Commonwealth Office and administered by the Marshall Aid Commemorative Commission and the British Embassy.

Earlier this year, White was one of 60 undergraduates from throughout the nation named to USA Today's 2004 All-USA College Academic Team, a program that honors students who excel in both scholarship and leadership. USA Today's news release about the All-USA team cited White for her 11-week tour during the summer of 2003 of Paraguay and Mexico, where she worked with youth orchestra programs. White, an accomplished violinist and student of Spanish, used her Virginia Tech University Honors Scholarship to fund the tour.

"I want to continue to study music and to work with youth orchestras," said White, who considers the 2003 tour to be one of her most significant accomplishments as an undergraduate.

Since 2000 White has performed as student concert master with the New River Valley Symphony, and in 2001 she became the first violinist for the Virginia Tech Spring String Quartet. She also teaches private violin lessons at the Performing Arts Institute of Virginia and coaches violin students for youth orchestras.

White spent the 2004 spring semester in Italy, studying engineering and music at the University of Rome, and during the summer worked as an engineering intern at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She also has been an engineering intern at NASA Langley, the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, Cornell University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Already a published researcher, White is co-author of a scientific paper on aerogel materials published in the December 2003 issue of the Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids and of an experiment published in the 2000 Virginia Junior Academy of Science Proceedings. She is a member of the ceramics research group led by professor David Clark, head of materials science and engineering at Virginia Tech.

"When Ashley arrived at Virginia Tech she had a keen interest in aerogels, and she has pursued this interest fervently while working in my research group," Clark said. "There is no doubt that her research will be highly valuable in designing advanced materials for a diverse range of future applications, including the biomedical field."

As a graduate student at Cambridge, White will work in the area of materials engineering and she plans to conduct research in bio-materials. At this point, her professional goal is to work in academia, although she also is interested in the field of public policy.

In addition to the Marshall and University Honors scholarships, White has received a Barry Goldwater Scholarship, a highly competitive national research award for undergraduates; and the Lewis Hoffman Award, presented by the American Ceramic Society to only one undergraduate annually. In 2002, she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.

White has received numerous other scholarships while at Virginia Tech, including the Hokie Scholar Award, which pays full tuition for four years; the Pulley-Louden Scholarship; the Gilbert and Lucille Seay Scholarship; the Pamplin Leader Award; the Music Department Scholarship; and the Alfred E. Knobler Scholarship.

White is the fourth Virginia Tech student to receive a Marshall Scholarship. Anya McGuirk, who won a Marshall in 1980, is a professor at Virginia Tech with joint appointments in the departments of agricultural and applied economics and of statistics; 1999 recipient Stacey Smith, who majored in biology and Spanish at Virginia Tech, studied environmental genetics at Reading University in England and is pursuing a doctorate in tropical ecology at the University of Wisconsin; and 2001 recipient Sarah Airey, who majored in electrical and computer engineering at Virginia Tech, is pursuing a doctorate in computer engineering at Cambridge.