Wendi Bacon '12 works in the lab in Eaton Hall.
by Sarah Tompkins ’10
Wendi Bacon ’12 has been awarded the Marshall Scholarship, one of the most prestigious awards available to American students, providing full funding for three years of study in the United Kingdom. She is one of only 36 students in the country to receive the highly-coveted scholarship, and she was ranked first among candidates in the New York region.
Bacon will use the Marshall Scholarship to pursue a Ph.D. in hematology at Cambridge University in England, under the guidance of Cambridge University Senior Research Associate Dr. Katrin Ottersbach. Focusing on developing a better model for infant acute leukemia and finding targets for cancer therapy, her Ph.D. project was developed while completing a research internship with the Department of Hematology at the Cambridge Institute of Medical Research in Cambridge, England, during the summer of 2011. Her internship was made possible thanks to the Charles H. Salisbury International Internship Stipend.
As the top candidate in the New York region, Bacon has been additionally honored with the region’s named endowed scholarship, making her The Walter and Leonore Annenberg Marshall Scholar. The New York region includes schools such as Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University, among others.
“Wendi has a command of her discipline that is truly extraordinary,” says Dr. Ray Raymond, chair of the New York Marshall Committee. “We were impressed by her creative and innovative leadership. She did the most extraordinary Marshall interview I have conducted in 10 years. It was a pleasure to meet such a brilliant, creative young person who is also so modest and selfless.”
Bacon discovered her interest in blood cancers during a summer internship at the Duke Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic where she researched the fatal blood cancer myeloma with Hobart alumnus Dr. David Rizzieri ’87 and his colleague Dr. Cristina Gasparetto. “I went through hundreds of patient charts,” says Bacon, who read nearly every case about the rapid deterioration of each patient, inevitably ending in death. “Seeing that over and over again – it’s impossible not to be changed.”
At Duke, Bacon was part of the team that found a drug that will improve the lives of patients suffering from multiple myeloma, an incurable bone cancer. In December, she presented these findings at the American Society for Hematology conference in San Diego.
Bacon credits Hobart and William Smith with nurturing her interests and providing the opportunities that led to the Marshall. “The experiences I had at HWS got me three papers, two presentations and an abstract award from the American Study of Hematology,” she says, referencing the work she did with Rizzieri as well as Professor of Chemistry Walter Bowyer, her research adviser. “I don’t think I could have had the same phenomenal experiences anywhere else.”
“Wendi is an incredibly smart and motivated student,” says Bowyer. “She is easily among the top students I have known in the past 22 years of teaching at HWS. On top of that, she is probably the most creative student I have worked with ever. She has the intelligence, energy, creativity and experience to succeed at whatever she undertakes.”
A double major in biochemistry and Spanish, Bacon is the recipient of the Blackwell Medical Scholarship, which has provided her a full, four-year tuition scholarship to attend William Smith and a reserved seat at SUNY Upstate Medical University College of Medicine. She is currently working on two honors projects, the first on myeloma cell biology and the second on linguistic anomalies in dubbed films. She also works as a teaching fellow in the biology and Spanish departments. Bacon created and instructs Tae-Kwon-Do classes for children in the Geneva Boys and Girls Club, and has coordinated Alternative Spring Break trips to Nicaragua.
Since 1953, Marshall Scholarships have been awarded to American students who show high levels of ability and exemplary scholarly records. Other Marshall Scholars include Stephen Breyer, associate justice of the U. S. Supreme Court; Thomas Friedman, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for the New York Times; and Roger Tsien, Nobel Prize winner in chemistry.