Two Duke Seniors Join 2022 Marshall Scholars for Graduate Study in the United Kingdom

Part of the Portraits From the Class of 2022 Series
2022 Marshall Scholar recipients James Marek and Yasa Baig
2022 Marshall Scholar recipients James Marek and Yasa Baig

Two Duke University seniors are among the 41 recipients of the prestigious Marshall Scholarship, the program announced Monday. 

Yasa Baig of Foxborough, Massachusetts, and James Marek of Yardley, Pennsylvania, have been chosen from applicants throughout the country. 

Approximately 40 Marshall Scholarships are awarded each year to high-achieving American students to pursue post-graduate studies at any university in the UK in any field. The award covers all university fees, cost-of-living expenses and many other costs.

“On behalf of the entire Duke community, I congratulate Yasa and James on this great honor, which reflects their extraordinary contributions here on campus and beyond,” said President Vincent Price.  “In addition to their exceptional performance in the classroom and the lab, Yasa and James have demonstrated an abiding commitment to service, innovation, and principled leadership.  I wish them all the best as they prepare to embark on their Marshall programs, and look forward to their continued accomplishments as Duke alumni.”

Baig, a physics and computer science double major with a minor in mathematics, is an Angier B. Duke scholar and was awarded the Goldwater Scholarship earlier this year for his scientific research. 

At Duke, he has been developing a mathematical and deep-learning-based technique to quantify emergent complexity in bacterial growth dynamics under the mentorship of Lingchong You. Baig is fascinated by questions around how living systems spontaneously generate order out of chaos. He plans a research career in biophysics applying nonlinear and complex systems theory to complex biological systems. 

Baig is also the co-founder and chief software engineer of the Duke Applied Machine Learning Group (DAML), one of the largest student software and machine learning engineering groups in the US.  When COVID 19 caused the loss of many computer science student internships, Baig and his colleagues at DAML founded the Phoenix Project which paired more than 200 students with new, virtual internships.

In addition to his academic work, Baig volunteers as a crisis counselor for the Crisis Text Line.  He also enjoys playing the violin and hiking.

Marek is a civil engineering major with a minor in economics.  At Duke, Marek has spent much of his time involved with Duke Engineers for International Development (DEID), helping to design and construct vehicular bridges in Uganda as part of a Duke Engage team, and in West Virginia as a project manager and lead designer for DEID. 

As a Bass Connections fellow, he has worked on developing a seismic monitoring and notification system to provide early warning for earthquakes in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal.  He plans a career in operations research to improve public transportation systems.

Marek has an interest in videography and recently completed a project on Super 8 film about a personal road trip through the Great Smoky Mountains.  He has also served as a tour guide for Duke’s Undergraduate Admissions office, a physics peer tutor in the Academic Resource Center, and a teaching assistant in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. 

Duke students and alumni can receive support for opportunities like the Marshall Scholarship from the Nationally Competitive Scholarships team at the Office of University Scholars and Fellows