Rice University student and alumna named Marshall Scholars

Ayoub, Steinberg among 40 honorees across the country

Rice News staff

Lovett College senior Kareem Ayoub and Rice alumna Jessica “Jecca” Steinberg ’11 are among the 40 students across the U.S. who were named Marshall Scholars this year.

The Marshall Scholarship allows distinguished American students to pursue two years of graduate study at any institution in the United Kingdom. Scholars are selected on the basis of academic merit, leadership and ambassadorial potential.


Ayoub will use the scholarship to complete a master’s degree in neuroscience at Oxford University and a master’s in experimental neuroscience at Imperial College in London.

Ayoub called the scholarship “an immense honor.” At Oxford, he will continue his current neuroscience research while learning more about how the U.K. scientific infrastructure is designed. Upon returning to the U.S., he plans to pursue an M.D./Ph.D. in neurosurgery and to promote a collaborative scientific culture internationally.

“Ultimately, by practicing science in a global framework, scientists can work more intimately with our society and inspire our next generation of scientists, physicians and engineers,” Ayoub said. “This is an exciting time for our society, and I am excited to be a part of it.”

At Rice, Ayoub is a Century Scholar majoring in bioengineering. He has conducted extensive research in neuroimaging at Baylor College of Medicine since his freshman year. Focused on creating better presurgical planning for children with epilepsy, he has co-authored several publications and last summer collaborated with researchers at the Oxford Functional MRI Brain Centre through funding from Rice’s Wagoner Foreign Study Scholarship. Taking his passion for science outside the lab, Ayoub founded RicEmpower, a science outreach organization that partners with K-12 schools to inspire the next generation of scientists and physicians.

Steinberg will use the Marshall Scholarship to pursue a Master of Science in global health and development at University College London and a Master of Arts in health management, planning and policy at the University of Leeds.

“It is an incredible honor to receive the Marshall Scholarship,” Steinberg said. “I will have the great privilege of pursuing my passions at some of the best health institutions in the world with experts and students with diverse interests. With this scholarship all of my life aspirations and dreams are feasible.

Upon her return to the U.S., Steinberg will pursue a medical degree. As an obstetrician, she plans to offer comprehensive, patient-focused health care in urban environments.

“With the resources available and the relationships I form, I will be able to address poverty-related issues in the U.S., the U.K. and internationally for the remainder of my career,” Steinberg said. “I am so grateful and excited for what’s to come.”

Steinberg graduated magna cum laude in 2011 with a Bachelor of Arts in biological sciences. On campus, she conducted research and served as an EMT and Rice Health Adviser. She also worked extensively on projects outside of the university. She participated in a service trip to Guatemala, interned at Centre Las Libres in Guanajuato City in Mexico, volunteered with women’s health organizations in Houston and taught a course for Rice students titled “Poverty in Houston.”

Steinberg currently serves as the program coordinator of Community Bridges, which she developed during her senior year in collaboration with Rice’s Kinder Institute for Urban Research, the Center for Civic Engagement and the Office of the Dean of Undergraduates. The program partners select undergraduates with organizations in Houston’s Fifth Ward so the students can take their skills outside the classroom for credit while helping the partner organizations address local issues.

Both Ayoub and Steinberg expressed gratitude to the many advisers and mentors who have assisted them during the application process.

“Although I have been honored with the Marshall, this was not a battle won alone,” Ayoub said. “I must give my warmest thanks to the professors and other mentors who have assisted me in the application process, including Dr. Caroline Quenemoen (director of fellowships and undergraduate research), who has been with us from the very beginning.”

Steinberg added, “Without (Quenemoen’s) encouragement and hard work, I would not have received the Marshall. I cannot thank her enough.”

About Rice News Staff

The Rice News is produced weekly by the Office of Public Affairs at Rice University.