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Benjamin Van Doren wins 2016 Marshall Scholarship

Benjamin Van Doren
Van Doren

Benjamin Van Doren ’16, a double major in biological sciences and biometry and statistics in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, is the winner of a 2016 Marshall Scholarship, which provides funds for up to 40 U.S. students to pursue two years of graduate study at an institution in the United Kingdom.

With the scholarship, Van Doren will attend the Edward Grey Institute of Field Ornithology at Oxford University, pursuing a graduate degree in ecology and evolutionary biology with a focus on bird migration.

“I’m particularly excited because the scholarship will allow me to conduct graduate work at a university widely recognized as one of the best in the world for my area of study,” Van Doren said. “I’m looking forward to new experiences and exposure to different ideas, academic and otherwise.”

Among many honors, Van Doren won a 2014 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship and in 2012 was named a Hunter R. Rawlings III Cornell Presidential Research Scholar. He has been an author or co-author on five published peer-reviewed publications, with a few others pending.

During his time at Cornell, Van Doren has been active with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology working with the BirdCast project on large-scale bird migration. He has helped raise more than $150,000 for student research through involvement in the World Series of Birding over the last three years.

Last year, he was part of a three-student expedition to eastern Panama to study little-known rainforest birds. And he is working on an honors thesis project on the migratory behavior, evolution and genomics of a small Old World bird called a stonechat.

“I’ve found Cornell to be an incredibly welcoming and encouraging community, especially at the Lab of Ornithology, where the sky is the limit in terms of student research and involvement,” he said.

For fun, Van Doren enjoys hiking and birding, especially when it involves traveling; he has visited South America, Central America, Europe and Russia, among other places.

Research associate Andrew Farnsworth in the Lab of Ornithology and faculty members Irby Lovette and David Winkler,  both in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and affiliated with the Lab of Ornithology, each wrote letters of recommendation for Van Doren.

Van Doren is the 15th Cornellian to win a Marshall Scholarship since 1997.

Founded in 1953, the Marshall Scholarships commemorate the humane ideals of the European Recovery Program, known as the Marshall Plan after General George C. Marshall. The scholarships are a gesture of thanks on behalf of Britain for assistance received from the U.S. after World War II.

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Melissa Osgood