Put John Cheeseman and Carol Augspurger together, and what do you have — other than two of Josie Chambers’ favorite UI professors?
They were “affectionately referred to by their students as Professors Cheeseburger,” Chambers says from the UK, where the Marshall Scholarship winner is a postdoctoral fellow in geography at the University of Cambridge.
“I still remember an amazing camping trip with them in Acadia National Park, Maine, to learn about its unique ecology. They were always developing unique learning opportunities for their students and were incredibly supportive.
“The summer after my sophomore year, I had the opportunity to travel to Uganda to study a critically endangered monkey species but could not afford it. John singlehandedly liaised with the alumni office to find several different donors to cover all of my costs.
"This experience was so pivotal to shaping who I am today — a researcher who studies the implications of different practical strategies used around the world to conserve forests and benefit people.
“I also got to know Carol well in a music context. We sang together in the Oratorio Society choir, along with my dad. I will never forget the time I saw the two of them talking and asked ‘How do you two know each other?’
“My dad looked surprised and said, ‘Wait, how do you two know each other?’
“Carol looked shocked, exclaiming, ‘Wait, how do you two know each other?”
“My time at Illinois singing in both the Oratorio Society and Chamber Singers provided such a refreshing break from my studies in Integrative Biology and many, many hours dissecting honey bee brains.
“That leads me to another important mentor during my time at UIUC — Professor Charlie Whitfield. He very generously took me on as a researcher in his lab when I had only just graduated from the high school on campus — Uni High. I spent four years working with him in his lab and learning about the ins and outs of honey bee genomics, before eventually moving from ‘the lab’ to ‘the field’ for the rest of my career.
“Finally, I was first introduced to David Schug — the director of the National and International Scholarships Program — near the end of my studies. John Cheeseman had put me in touch and encouraged me to apply for some top scholarships.
“I don’t think I ever would have had the confidence and skill to go for and obtain a Marshall Scholarship without their support and guidance. David is incredibly good at helping students to have the best chance possible at winning these scholarships.
“I will forever be grateful for this, as it brought me to the United Kingdom, where I have found an incredibly enriching and supportive environment to do work that I hope will provide at least some small contribution to addressing some of the critical social and environmental challenges of our time.”