MSU alumna Clara Lepard receives prestigious Rhodes Scholarship

  • Nov 21, 2017
  • Research, Rhodes Scholarship, alumni, Students
  • Homepage Hero, Alumni, Faculty & Staff, Research, Students, College of Natural Science, Integrative Biology

MSU graduate Clara Lepard has earned the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

MSU zoology graduate ('17) Clara Lepard has earned the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to pursue graduate study abroad. Photo courtesy MSU.

Clara Lepard, a Michigan State University College of Natural Science (NatSci) zoology graduate (’17) and former NatSci Dean’s Research Scholar, has earned the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship to pursue graduate study abroad.

The Rhodes Trust, the oldest of the major international competitive award foundations, provides 32 of the most outstanding undergraduates in the country an opportunity to study at the University of Oxford in England. This year, applications were considered from 320 U.S. institutions.

“Clara is an outstanding student and has an exciting career ahead of her,” said R. James Kirkpatrick, NatSci dean. “As a Rhodes Scholar, she represents the outstanding students who come to Michigan State and our commitment to making research a central part of the education we offer.”

“Being chosen for the Rhodes Scholarship is an incredible honor,” said Lepard, who is also an MSU Honors College alumna. “It goes beyond encouraging me personally after years of work – it’s inspiring to know this prestigious community of scholars believes in the power of zoology and conservation research to make this world a better place for all of us. I cannot wait to join the Rhodes Scholar community and collaborate far into the future.”

Lepard, who’s from East Lansing, Mich., and graduated from East Lansing High School, will pursue a doctorate at the University of Oxford, researching the behavioral ecology of large carnivores, especially lions in East Africa, and working on community conservation efforts.

“It has been a great pleasure to work with Clara and to watch her grow and thrive at MSU,” said Thomas Getty, professor and chair of the Department of Integrative Biology. “It was easy to write a very positive letter of support for her because she has excelled at all of Rhodes criteria, including proven intellectual and academic quality, integrity of character and a commitment to leadership and the betterment of society.  Clara will be a wonderful representative for MSU at Oxford.”

While at MSU, Lepard worked in seven different laboratories on separate areas of zoology and wildlife management. This past summer, she worked with the MSU Research on the Ecology of Carnivores and their Prey (RECaP) lab studying how carnivores impact their surrounding species and ecosystems in Uganda

“Clara has been an exceptional undergraduate researcher in my laboratory at MSU, developing sustainable solutions for large carnivore conservation,” said Robert Montgomery, an MSU assistant professor of wildlife ecology and RECaP director. “As a Rhodes Scholar, she will extend this research via a collaboration with colleagues working on comparable issues at Oxford University. This experience as a Rhodes Scholar with training at MSU and Oxford will position Clara to be a global leader in the field of conservation.”

In 2015, Lepard earned a first-place award at the University Undergraduate Research and Arts Form for her research on the long-term effects of lampricide application on the metamorphosis of sea lamprey. She also participated in MSU’s Behavioral Ecology of African Mammals study abroad program headed by MSU Professor Kay Holekamp in Kenya in 2016.  Additionally, Lepard served as a peer educator for the Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Prevention Program.

MSU has produced 18 Rhodes Scholars to date.

Banner image courtesy of MSU Behavioral Ecology of African Mammals study abroad program.