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U. of I. alumnus named Marshall Scholar

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Jonathan Naber

Jonathan Naber, left, and Adam Booher fit the first amputee patient with one of three prototypes Illini Prosthetic Technologies tested on a trip to Guatemala in July 2010.

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11/26/2012 | Jeff Unger, News Bureau | 217-3331085; news@illinois.edu

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Jonathan Naber, of Waterloo, Ill., has been awarded a Marshall Scholarship. Each year, about 40 students from the United States are selected as Marshall Scholars for postgraduate study at a university in the United Kingdom. Naber is the third U. of I. student in the last six years awarded this honor. Naber graduated from Illinois in May 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in materials science and engineering.

While at Illinois, Naber conceived of providing prosthetic arms for amputees who could not afford expensive devices. He experimented and created prototypes, gathered and managing a team, and, after establishing a nonprofit organization, raised more than $140,000 in start-up funds. The result, Illini Prosthetic Technologies, which provides artificial limbs to amputees in the developing world.

Naber is working in Guatemala to further develop and test IPT’s prosthetic limbs and is creating connections to produce the prostheses in Guatemala using locally available products.

Through the Marshall Scholarship, Naber plans to earn a master’s degree in public health in developing countries at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and a second master’s, in development management, at the London School of Economics and Political Science. After his studies in England, Naber envisions forming a new team and addressing some systemic failings in how amputees are cared for, as well as work to prevent future amputations.

Naber has won numerous awards through the College of Engineering, as well as the Lemelson-MIT Illinois student prize for being the most inventive student at Illinois. Naber was the first undergraduate to receive this award. He received the nationally competitive Simon Fellowship for Noble Purposes in 2011 and earned a Whitaker International Fellow Grant to fund his current bioengineering research in Guatemala. He has donated more than $40,000 in prize money to IPT.

“Jonathan is that special person who transformed the university in his time on our Urbana-Champaign campus,” said Bob Easter, the president of the university. “His passion, commitment and creativity have raised the bar of excellence in our world-class College of Engineering.”

Phyllis M. Wise, the chancellor of the Urbana campus, said Naber is an exemplary scholar and a “person of tremendous character with significant leadership skills. … His appetite for social entrepreneurship has become an example to our students.”

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