Madison George ’23 selected for the NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program

George is the first recipient from Elon University of this highly selective grant.

Madison George ‘23 has been selected for the NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program, a collaborative endeavor between the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.K. universities Oxford and Cambridge. She is the first Elon student to be accepted into this internationally selective program, which received 215 applications last year for only 25 spots.

The NIH Oxford-Cambridge Scholars Program is a highly individualized and accelerated doctoral training program for outstanding students committed to biomedical research careers. NIH Oxford-Cambridge (OxCam) students partner with two Investigators — one at the NIH and another at the University of Oxford or University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom — to perform a single, collaborative dissertation project.

“The NIH OxCam is a beautiful collaborative experience that was built to support innovative and interdisciplinary dissertation projects and I saw exciting potential in utilizing the strengths of both institutions. And, coming from my own bridged undergraduate thesis project, it seemed like a natural next step in my career path,” said George.

Should she accept the award, George will spend four years in the U.K. earning a DPhil in biomedical sciences from the University of Oxford.

George credits her undergraduate research and her work with the National and International Fellowships Office when reflecting on the Elon experiences that best prepared her to receive this award.

George, an Honors Fellow and Lumen Scholar, spent three years designing the first women’s-specific pole-vaulting shoe under the co-mentorship of faculty Scott Wolter and Shefali Christopher. “I built my thesis project with a co-mentoring structure to address both biomechanical and mechanical aspects of women’s pole-vaulting shoes,” George said. “My Elon research experience has been exceptionally relatable to the structure of this fellowship.”

Christopher shared the following about George: “While it doesn’t shock me that Madison was awarded the NIH OxCam Scholarship, I am ecstatic to hear this news. She has worked so hard to follow her dreams while balancing and excelling at school, athletics, and life so seamlessly. [Wolter] and I often joke that our only job as mentors is to get out of Madison’s way! I can’t wait to see all the amazing things she accomplishes in the near future.”

In addition to her research, George credits her successes to her work with the National and International Fellowships Office, which supports students like her in their pursuit of competitive awards and grants. She said, “The Fellowships Office was absolutely critical during the application process because they helped me translate my thoughts into organized and concise written drafts. It was also a great benefit to be given multiple eyes on my drafts, which shows the effort and investment that goes into student pursuits and makes our Fellowships Office very special.”

George is no stranger to fellowship successes. In her sophomore year, she was awarded the Barry Goldwater Scholarship, the premier undergraduate scholarship for sophomores and juniors who intend to pursue research careers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and engineering. She is still awaiting results for the GEM Fellowship and the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (NSF GRFP).

George has also been admitted into several of the country’s top engineering PhD programs, including Stanford, Duke and Yale.

When asked what advice she has for students interested in applying for the NIH OxCam or other fellowships, George said, “Shoot for the stars! Truly. I did not expect to be accepted into this program and I am so grateful that I chose to apply. I think we often underestimate our potential and forget that all applicants are people just like us, so there is no reason to not go for these opportunities. Build your own path and be willing to try!”

To learn more about the NIH OxCam Scholars Program and other nationally competitive awards like GEM and the NSF GRP, visit the National and International Fellowships Office’s website to schedule an appointment.