Simar Bajaj ’20 was recently named a recipient of the prestigious Marshall Scholarship, which provides U.S. citizens with funds to study at universities in the United Kingdom. Upon graduating from Harvard (where he is completing bachelor’s degrees in chemistry and the history of science), he will study for his master’s in global health and epidemiology at the University of Oxford.
“I sought the Marshall Scholarship because it offered a unique opportunity to gain a novel perspective on public health, learning from the British context,” Bajaj said. “In a time of increasing nationalism, the Marshall Scholarship offers a refreshing mission to strengthen ties between the U.S. and U.K.”
At Oxford, Bajaj will study global health science and epidemiology while traveling to study other health care systems in the U.K. and Europe. He also plans to continue his journalism work and publish his first book, which will cover diseases with social stigmas. “Lung cancer, obesity and other stigmatized diseases are historically intractable problems, and I truly believe it will take the intersection of our health care systems to develop novel and viable paths forward,” he said. “Because I have no bias toward any one disease, I think it will be invaluable to look at various disease processes facing social stigma and see how that affects their treatment.”
Bajaj believes journalism can influence public policy by covering important, socially responsible research. “I see a continuum from research to journalism to advocacy, where scientists create data, media workers interpret these data for the public and then policymakers enact corresponding reforms,” he said. “I want to continue working across this continuum, bridging traditionally disparate fields and creating a more efficient model of policy change.”
Since he began pursuing medical journalism in 2022, Bajaj has received many accolades for his writing, which has appeared in major outlets including The Washington Post, Time Magazine, The Guardian and NPR. This past November, he won the top prize in the Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communications, and in the summer of 2023 was named Newcomer of the Year by the Association of British Science Writers and the Medical Journalists Association.