Abby Lemert

Hometown: Fort Wayne, IN
College: College of Engineering, Honors College
Major: Multidisciplinary Engineering

Abby Lemert, of Fort Wayne, an Honors College student and senior majoring in multidisciplinary engineering, has received a Marshall Scholarship. The honor provides young Americans of high ability the opportunity to study for a graduate degree in any field of study in the United Kingdom. 43 scholars were awarded a Marshall Scholarship this year.

“This is a tremendous honor and opportunity,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said. “The Marshall Scholarship directly supports our goal of increasing educational and real-world, hands-on opportunities for our students. Purdue students and alumni have consistently made productive impacts globally, and Abby will be able to follow suit with this opportunity to work with our friends in the U.K.”

The scholarship program was created in 1953 by an Act of Parliament designed to serve as a “thank you” to the United States from the U.K. for the Marshall Plan, which provided $13 billion in economic aid to Europe in the late 1940s. Marshall Scholarships are given to students from a wide-ranging group of educational focuses.

Lemert, Purdue’s first Marshall Scholarship recipient in 25 years, stretches from her engineering efforts into multiple areas via her minors in political science and Arabic. She plans to advance policy-making in cyber security, specifically focusing on the use of cyber technology as a means of oppression. She hopes to encourage the U.S. and U.K. to lead in establishing legal norms to combat oppressive usage of cyber technologies.

“Emerging internet technologies, social media and big data raise a lot of very fundamental questions on how we balance national security with an individual’s right to privacy,” Lemert said. “In liberal democracies like the U.S. and Great Britain, ideally, we’ll begin to answer these questions through open conversations between the public, media, policymakers and tech companies. But in authoritarian regimes around the world, those conversations will never take place. Internet technologies will instead be used for censorship and surveillance of dissidents, minorities, human rights activists, and other vulnerable groups.”

The Marshall Scholarship program’s goals are to enable scholars to gain an understanding and appreciation of contemporary Britain; contribute to the advancement of knowledge in science, technology, the humanities and social sciences, and the creative arts; motivate scholars to act as ambassadors from the U.S. to the U.K., and vice versa throughout their lives and, thus, strengthening the British-American understanding; and promote personal and academic fulfillment of each scholar.

An active member on the Purdue campus, Lemert was a founding member for Purdue Immigrant Allies, a student-run advocacy group that stands in solidarity with immigrants living in the Greater Lafayette community through service-based initiatives. She was a founding member of PurdueTHINK, a student-run consulting group to help other Purdue organizations find their niche. She is a recipient of the Steven C. Beering Scholarship, Purdue’s most prestigious scholarship.

“I’m so excited for the chance to study in the U.K.,” Lemert said. “My experiences there will open so many doors for working in international relations. Applying was a year-long process of working with Purdue’s National and International Scholarships Office, and their help and support were indispensable. I hope to use the opportunity I’ve been given to represent Purdue well and gain skills and experiences that will help me spend my life improving the lives of others.”

Other Marshall Scholars include U.S. Supreme Court justices Neil Gorsuch and Stephen Breyer, Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman and psychologist Angela Duckworth. Virgil Barnes, a professor of physics at Purdue, is a 1957 Marshall Scholar.

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