Updated: Nebel ’13 to be named Marshall Scholar
Philosophy concentrator and campus Greek life leader Jake Nebel ’13 will be named the University’s sole winner of the 2013 Marshall Scholarship.
Nebel, who is also pursuing a certificate in Values and Public Life, has already been published in multiple academic journals as an undergraduate. He will use the scholarship to complete the equivalent of a two-year master's degree at the University of Oxford.
Nebel first found out he won when the British Consulate-General in Atlanta called to congratulate him on Nov. 8, two days after his interview.
“I yelled screams of joy in my room, out to the Foulke/Henry courtyard so that the whole junior slums could hear me," Nebel said. "I banged on my friends' doors. They weren't there but I was shouting in the hallway anyway. I called my girlfriend and my parents at work, left voicemails screaming, 'I got it! I got it!' "
Each year, the Marshall Scholarship sponsors up to 40 American students to study at graduate programs for two years at any university in the United Kingdom. It was first founded in 1953 to honor the late U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall. Of the roughly 1,000 students endorsed by their universities each year, 100-150 students get interviewed for the 40 slots. This year's scholarship was awarded to 34 Americans.
After completing his studies at Oxford, Nebel plans to pursue a Ph.D. and become a professor. He said he would also consider going to law school if courses in the philosophy of law pique his interest.
"I think that research and teaching in moral philosophy can make a difference to the way we understand our duties and what it means to make the world a better place and how students and future leaders understand that kind of thing," Nebel said. "The beauty of the Marshall Scholarship is that now I have two more years to do what I love. Now I have two more years to figure out what career would be best for me.”
During his freshman spring, Nebel took a graduate school seminar and wrote a paper for that course, called “Protection against WMDs,” which was published in the Journal of Peace Education. With bioethics professor Peter Singer's guidance, Nebel also published a paper he wrote during his sophomore year for Singer's graduate seminar in the Journal of Ethics and Social Philosophy.
As a freshman, Nebel was interested in philosophy because of his experiences as an award-winning Lincoln-Douglas debater in high school, but he had expected to major in the Wilson School. However, after taking Singer’s Practical Ethics course and a freshman seminar on ethics in higher education with University Provost Christopher Eisbgruber ’83, he decided to study philosophy.
"It was obvious from the start that he was a spectacular student and someone from whom I expected great things while he was here," Eisgruber said. The two now work together on the Priorities Committee, which oversees the University budget.
Nebel has also worked with the University in response to the ban on freshman rush. As the former president of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, Nebel organized the Princeton Greek Council to oppose the University’s ban in spring 2011 and was later named by the University to be a member of the committee that determined the logistics of the ban’s implementation.
At around the same time as the announcement of the rush ban, Nebel worked as a research assistant for Rutgers professor Larry Temkin. Temkin, who used to teach at Princeton as a visiting professor, advised Nebel’s junior paper while he taught here.
"It was utterly brilliant. It was insightful. It made a significant advance,” Temkin said. “I have no doubt in my mind that it's publishable as is in one [of] the best journals in my field.”
Additionally, Nebel co-founded Princeton's branch of Giving What We Can, an international society dedicated to eliminating poverty, and is setting up a chapter of its sister organization, 80,000 Hours, which provides career advice for young people who want to make a difference in the world.
He has continued his involvement in Lincoln-Douglas Debate by coaching high school debaters. He advises students at the Greenhill School in Dallas through videoconferencing and flies to several tournaments across the country during the academic year to coach them in person.
"I'm frankly not surprised he got the Marshall Scholarship,” said David Chen '13, a friend who also coached debaters at the Palos Verdes High School near Los Angeles. “He's one of those people who really live and breathe and are so comfortable in his academic setting in philosophy. I'm very confident he's going to be a juggernaut in that field."
In addition to his academic achievements, Josh Webman ’13, who has been Nebel’s roommate for the past two years, explained that Nebel is “friendly” and “outgoing.”
"What a lot of people might underestimate with Jake is that he's not completely academic," Webman said. "He's a pretty normal guy, very good friend, very loyal.”