ENGINEERING NEWS

Undergraduate Lucia Brunel Receives 2018 Marshall Scholarship

Brunel will earn a master’s in materials science and metallurgy from the University of Cambridge

Northwestern Engineering senior Lucia Brunel has received a 2018 Marshall Scholarship, which will send her to the United Kingdom this fall. She will spend a year at the University of Cambridge to obtain a master of philosophy in materials science and metallurgy.

Designed to train future leaders, the Marshall Scholarship promotes partnerships, peace, and greater understanding among Britain, Ireland, and the United States.

Lucia BrunelEstablished in 1953 as a British gesture of thanks to the United States for assistance Britain received under the Marshall Plan after World War II, the Marshall Scholarship aims to strengthen the relationship between the British and American citizens, their governments and institutions. Beginning in September 2018, 43 scholar winners — the largest cohort of scholars since 2007 — will begin degrees at leading British institutions.

Brunel has conducted research since 2013, when she was a high school senior working in a biomaterials lab at the University of Texas at Austin. At Northwestern, she continued her research path as a member of Professor John Torkelson’s laboratory and through a series of three summer research projects.

Brunel missed the initial call from the Marshall committee while on the flight to Chicago from her Marshall interview in Houston. The committee didn’t leave a message, so she called the number right back and got the good news, to cheers from nearby passengers she had chatted with on the plane.

“I am fortunate to have family and friends who supported me through the long application process and fabulous mentors and professors at Northwestern University who guided me through revisions of my application materials and mock interviews over the past several months,” she said.

A winner of the Goldwater Scholarship for the 2017-18 academic year, Brunel will work in the Cambridge Centre for Medical Materials, where her research will focus on improving the performance of bioactive “scaffolds” used in tissue engineering.

Brunel’s drive started at a young age. In elementary school, “nobody believed that I -- a girl -- could have won the Math Olympiad,” she recalled. She has served on the executive board of the Northwestern chapter of the Society of Women Engineering (SWE) for the past three years and has taken honors engineering classes.

Her placement in the laboratory of Cambridge professors Ruth Cameron and Serena Best, leading female researchers in materials science — a field in which women are underrepresented in academic roles — is a perfect fit.

“Through my involvement in SWE, I am working to overcome reflexive questioning of the abilities of women in STEM,” Brunel said.

Brunel will graduate in June with a joint bachelor’s and master’s degree in chemical and biological engineering.