Peking graduate begins prestigious American fellowship

Ziyan Zhang

Ziyan Zhang, the daughter of Xiaoli Ma and Ning Zhang of Beijing, has been named a McDonnell International Scholar at Washington University in St. Louis, and she has received a corporate fellowship from Tyco Healthcare/Mallinckrodt. She holds a bachelor of science degree from Peking University, which is one of 15 leading Asian universities partnered with Washington University in St. Louis in the McDonnell International Scholars Academy.

Ms. Zhang is pursuing a doctorate in chemistry in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences and expects her study to continue for five years. Her career plans include returning to China to work in the biotechnology industry or the Chinese government on related issues. She is supported in her studies by a fellowship awarded to her by Tyco Healthcare/Mallinckrodt, based in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A., a leading manufacturer, distributor and servicer of medical devices worldwide. The fellowship offers Ms. Zhang special internship opportunities.

“We were extremely impressed with Ziyan Zhang’s application to the McDonnell Academy, as was our corporate sponsor at Tyco Healthcare/Mallinckrodt,” said James V. Wertsch, Ph.D., the Marshall S. Snow Professor in Arts & Sciences and Director of the McDonnell International Scholars Academy. “She looks like the perfect match as we at the Academy help develop global leaders of tomorrow and Tyco Healthcare/Mallinckrodt thinks about building new links to China and Asia more generally.”

The McDonnell International Scholars Academy is both new and unique. Employing an unusual structure and approach, it brings together top scholars from many countries to pursue world-class education and research while forging a strong network with one another. Key to this are partnerships Washington University has established with top universities and corporations around the world with an eye to increasing opportunities for joint research and global education.

The McDonnell Academy Scholars are considered future world leaders in their fields. As such, they are provided not only rigorous graduate instruction, but a thorough cultural, political and social education designed to prepare them as leaders knowledgeable about the United States, other countries, and critical international issues.

Once selected for this highly competitive program, each scholar is matched with a distinguished member of the Washington University faculty who serves as a mentor for the scholar and also as an “ambassador” to the university partner from which the scholar has graduated. The ambassador assists the McDonnell Scholar in academic and professional life and travels annually with the scholar to the partner university to build relationships between the two institutions.

Barbara Schaal
Barbara Schaal

Barbara Schaal, the Spencer T. Olin Professor in Arts & Sciences in biology, is Ms. Zhang’s faculty mentor-ambassador. She is vice president of the National Academy of Sciences and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Schaal is a plant evolutionary biologist recognized for her work on the genetics of plant species, and she is known particularly for her studies that use DNA sequences to understand evolutionary processes such as gene flow, geographical differentiation, and the domestication of crop species.

The McDonnell Academy Scholars receive funding for full tuition, living expenses and travel to and from St. Louis. Most of the scholars reside in two fully equipped and furnished apartment buildings near campus.

Funding is provided through a sustaining endowment gift from John F. McDonnell, vice chairman of the Washington University Board of Trustees and retired chairman of the board of McDonnell Douglas Corporation, additional endowment pledges, and 11 multinational corporate and foundation sponsors. Sponsoring corporations also offer internships and on-site educational opportunities for the Academy’s Corporate Fellows.