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Alumnus passionate about global health is a 2010 Marshall Scholar

Dartmouth College Office of Public Affairs • Press Release
Posted 12/1/09 • Media Contact: Steve Smith (603) 646-3661

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Zachary Kaufman '08

Zachary Kaufman, Class of 2008, has been named a 2010 Marshall Scholar. Thirty-five Americans were selected for the prestigious annual award, which was founded by the government of the United Kingdom in 1953. Prominent past Marshall Scholars include U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and columnist Thomas Friedman of The New York Times. The Marshall is Dartmouth's first since 2004.  

Kaufman, who aspires “to relentlessly fight infectious disease through research, service, and teaching," will use the scholarship worth nearly $100,000 to complete a master’s and a PhD in epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). Marshall Scholars are funded for at least two years of full-time study toward graduate degrees at any university in the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

“I'm incredibly excited to study at one of the world's leading public health institutions," says the 23-year-old from Madision, Wis. "LSHTM is a place where faculty and students share a passion for improving health worldwide.” Earlier this year, LSHTM became the first academic institution to receive the 2009 Gates Award for Global Health.

A Truman Scholar, All-USA First Academic Team Member, and recipient of Dartmouth’s Barrett Cup for All-Around Achievement, Kaufman first developed a passion for public health during a Dartmouth Tucker Foundation community service trip to Siuna, Nicaragua—his first trip outside the United States. Working as a medical translator with a team of doctors and medical students, he says he “learned first-hand that medicine alone cannot cure suffering in the developing world.” The team treated hundreds of patients suffering from diarrhea and parasites—among other illnesses—caused by unclean drinking water.

“While we have made incredible progress expanding access to essential medicines in the past decade, we continue to fall short in infectious disease prevention,” he says. “Without addressing the underlying determinants of illness, even the most brilliant MDs cannot expect to sustainably improve health.”

More about Zak at Dartmouth

  • Major: Special interdisciplinary major in health and society in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • Favorite class: "Mapping Health and Disease," in geography
  • Key mentors: Sienna Craig, assistant professor of anthropology; Robert Welsch, former professor of anthropology; Lisa Adams, assistant professor of infectious disease at Dartmouth Medical School; Tommy Clark '92, DMS '01, founder of Grassroot Soccer; Richard Crocker, dean of the Tucker Foundation; Joel Levine, professor of mathematical social sciences
  • Co-founder of: Lose the Shoes, Alternative Spring Break trip to Dominican Republic, Haitian Art Project, Dartmouth Ends Hunger
  • Extracurriculars: Avid Ultimate Frisbee player, drummer, member of Casque and Guantlet senior society

Kaufman went on to assist public health efforts in some of the Western Hemisphere’s poorest communities, including Guatemala’s northern highlands and Haitian migrant communities in the Dominican Republic. With support from the Dean of Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Dickey Center for International Understanding, and others, Kaufman spent seven months in the Dominican Republic evaluating a youth-targeted HIV prevention program for his senior honors thesis. He presented this research at the 27th International AIDS Conference in Mexico City in 2008 and this year he presented research at the HIV/AIDS Implementers Meeting in Namibia.

After graduating from Dartmouth, Kaufman moved to Cape Town, South Africa, to oversee research and evaluation for Grassroot Soccer, the acclaimed  nonprofit founded by Dartmouth alumnus Tommy Clark. For the past year, Kaufman has helped implement, monitor, and evaluate HIV-prevention programs in South Africa, Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Botswana. “I cannot imagine gaining two years of richer work experience,” he says.

Lisa Adams taught Kaufman in the geography class, Global Health and Society, and was one of his senior thesis advisors. “He’s efficient, thorough, dependable, able to synthesize complex material,” says Adams, coordinator of Dartmouth's Global Health Initiative. “But one of the qualities I respect most in Zak is the depth of his caring for some of the most vulnerable populations on our planet.”

Kaufman says that after LSHTM he expects to continue to work on HIV prevention efforts, but is also interested in working on less publicized health issues, such as pneumonia or diarrhea. “It’s all about where I can be of the greatest service,” he says.

After much consideration, Kaufman withdrew from his Rhodes Scholarship interview in November and accepted the Marshall because the LSHTM better suited his interests and life goals, he says. For advice Kaufman says he spoke with numerous Rhodes and Marshall scholars, including Esther Freeman, Dartmouth Class of 2001, who studied at LSHTM as a Marshall Scholar.

Kaufman will work for Grassroot Soccer through summer 2010 (he notes he'll be in South Africa for the country's first World Cup), and then move to London.

Named after U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall, who proposed the idea of American economic assistance for post-war Europe, Marshall scholarships are awarded “to strengthen the enduring relationship between the British and American peoples, their governments and their institutions.”

For more information on national scholarships, including a list of past recipients, visit Dartmouth's National Scholarships/Fellowships website.

Dartmouth has television (satellite uplink) and radio (ISDN) studios available for domestic and international live and taped interviews. For more information, call 603-646-3661 or see our Radio, Television capability webpage.

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Last Updated: 12/11/09