Pratt Senior Wins Marshall Scholarship for Graduate Study Abroad

Lee PearsonA Duke University Pratt School of Engineering senior has been chosen for a prestigious scholarship for postgraduate study abroad.

Lee Pearson, of Spokane, Wash., was one of 40 students selected for the Marshall Scholarship, which provides two years of graduate-level study in the United Kingdom.

Pearson, a double major in civil and environmental engineering and biomedical engineering, has been actively involved in outreach projects in Uganda and Peru. He is also a Pratt Undergraduate Research Fellow working on indoor molds in the laboratory of Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Claudia Gunsch.

Pearson said he hopes to complete a master’s degree in ecological economics at the University of Edinburgh in his first year and a master’s in engineering for sustainable development at the University of Cambridge in his second year. He is still uncertain about long-term plans, although he thinks it will involve government sector work "where I can have the most impact."

He said he considers it vital to balance environmental protection and lessening our impact on Earth with human needs and economic issues. "I'm really interested in the whole sustainability movement," he said.

Pearson credits Duke’s civil and environmental engineering program – particularly engineering professors Henri Gavin, David Schaad and Miguel Medina -- for fueling his interest in engineering. "The classes are small, and the faculty really do care about the students. Most of the classes are structured in a way that show how theories really do apply to the world," adding that several of his professors accompanied the students on their trips to Uganda.

In January, Pearson and nine other students will move into the Home Depot Smart Home, a 6,000-square-foot home on Duke’s campus that features a variety of eco-friendly and high-tech elements and serves as a living laboratory in which the students can modify and deploy new technology.

Established in 1953 to commemorate the Marshall Plan, the scholarships are awarded each year by the British government to "talented, independent and wide-ranging" young Americans to finance their study in the United Kingdom.