Northwestern Senior Named 2003 Marshall Scholarship Recipient – Dec 13, 2002
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Picture caption: Alexander Billioux (center) was recognized recently at a La. Board of Regents meeting, along with NSU Provost and VP for Academic Affairs Dr. Tom Burns (left) and Director of La. Scholars College Dr. Margaret Cochran (right).
NATCHITOCHES-Alexander C. Billioux, a senior in the Louisiana Scholars’ College at Northwestern State University, was named as a recipient of a 2003 Marshall Scholarship. He is the first Northwestern student to receive a Marshall Scholarship and was the only student attending a Louisiana college or university selected this year. Billioux was also Louisiana state representative and a finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship.
Billioux, who is from Easley, S.C., is majoring in liberal arts and sciences with a concentration in scientific inquiry and a minor in classics. He plans to spend the next two years doing cancer gene therapy research at the Weatherall Institute for Molecular Medicine at the University of Oxford. He plans to work toward a Master of Science degree in Clinical Medicine. Billioux will be conducting research in the laboratory of Dr. Roy Bicknell, who is studying the molecular signals that trigger the development of new vasculature during tumor development as a potential target of gene therapy aimed toward tumor growth and proliferation.
“Dr. Bicknell’s lab is one of the few in the world doing the area of cancer research I am interested in. It’s a dream come true,” said Billioux. “We will be doing research of our own and seeing other steps taken toward gene therapy. The research will help make cancer less damaging than it is. It’s not a permanent cure, but it will help in the fight against cancer.”
If his scholarship is extended for a third year, he will work toward a doctorate in molecular angiogenesis. Billioux also plans to enter medical school upon his return to the United States.
Billioux was a 2002 Goldwater Scholar and has spent the last two summers interning at the National Institutes of Health in the Disorders of Immunology Section of the Genetics and Molecular Biology Branch of the National Human Genome Research Institute. He helped develop a system to better identify human cells used in animal research. Scientists often inject human cells into animals to conduct research and need to learn if the cells spread.
“Until I received the Goldwater, I didn’t think I was the type of student they (the Marshall or Rhodes Scholarship committees) were looking for,” said Billioux. ” I didn’t think they would look for someone from a small school, but wanted someone from Yale or Stanford.
“My mentor at the National Institutes of Health pointed out that almost all the Marshall and Rhodes Scholars in recent years had received Goldwaters. So once I received the Goldwater, I decided to compete for the Marshall and the Rhodes.”
During the interview process, Billioux explained why he chose to attend the Scholars’ College
“I was especially glad to be given the opportunity to explain my reasons for attending the Louisiana Scholars’ College and Northwestern State University,” said Billioux. “Rather than providing apologetic reasons for not pursuing my Ivy League offers, I explained that I felt the seminar-style learning environment and well-rounded, humanities focused curriculum of the Scholars’ College had prepared me in a manner that I would not have been afforded by larger institutions. Further, the close relationships I have been able to develop with almost all of my professors provided me with invaluable advice and guidance, as well as opportunities I might not have had were I studying at a larger university.”
Billioux followed his brother Chris to the Scholars’ College. Chris Billioux is a 1999 graduate of the Scholars’ College. The Billiouxs found out about NSU through the Duke Talent Identification Program. The university placed at ad in a TIP publication and the Billiouxs were interested after reading the ad.
“I had applied and received scholarship offers from other institutions but my parents saw a need for a humanities-based, liberal arts education,” said Billioux. “The Scholars’ College offered small class sizes with an intense seminar learning style. And I loved the environment of Natchitoches.”
Marshall Scholarships provide financing for up to 40 scholars to study at the graduate or occasionally undergraduate level at a United Kingdom institution in any field of study. The scholarships were founded by an Act of Parliament in 1953 to commemorate the humane ideals of the European Recovery Programme (Marshall Plan) and promote understanding between future leaders of the United Kingdom and the United States.
Other Marshall recipients are from institutions including Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, MIT, the University of Texas and the University of Washington.
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