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Two Harvard Seniors Selected for Marshall Scholarship

By Jesper W Ke and Ellen Zhang, Contributing Writers

Bianca Mulaney ’16 and Rebecca M. Panovka ’16, friends and fellow Quincy House residents, have been named Harvard’s two newest Marshall scholars to their shared surprise and disbelief.

As scholars on the postgraduate award—which funds up to 40 U.S. undergraduates to study for at least two years at institutions in the United Kingdom—the two will continue researching topics in line with their undergraduate interests.

Mulaney, who is from Florida, is an Economics concentrator interested in the relationship between antibiotic resistance and agriculture. She will spend one year studying at the London School of Economics and Political Science and another year studying infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

From New York, Panovka is a joint concentrator in English and Philosophy who will pursue a Master of Philosophy in political thought and intellectual history at Cambridge University for her first year. In her second year, Panovka intends earn a master's degree in visual anthropology at the University of Manchester.

The two recipients prepared together by conducting mock interviews with each other, and both expressed a sense of shock and gratitude at receiving the scholarship.

“I’m in disbelief that I was selected given how many incredibly qualified candidates there were,” Mulaney said.

Mulaney said her involvement in biology labs and multiple extracurricular organizations, such as the Harvard Undergraduate Global Health Forum and Smart Women Securities, helped cultivate her research interests.

Karine A. Gibbs ’00, an associate professor in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Mulaney’s biochemical sciences tutor, said she was proud of Mulaney’s selection for the scholarship.

“Bianca’s really a firecracker,” said Gibbs. “She is incredibly motivated, she thinks outside the box…she’s really passionate about her interests.”

Panovka said her personal interest in filmmaking piqued last summer when she worked for a filmmaker in South Africa. She also interned at The Paris Review, Radio Open Source, and several other media organizations, and is a member of the Harvard Advocate and Signet Society.

Panovka said she looks forward to using the scholarship as a way to “grow, both as a thinker and as a filmmaker.”

Maria Tatar, a Germanic Languages and Literatures professor who has served as a mentor to Panovka, said she “almost fell off my chair with glee” when she found out Panovka had won the scholarship.

“Rebecca is an intellectually adventurous student and a focused self-starter when it comes to research,” Tatar said. “The fit with the Marshall Scholarship seemed exactly right.”

Both award recipients expressed their excitement at being able to study in England after graduation.

“I’m so thrilled that we’ll get to share this experience with each other,” Panovka said.

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