November 23, 2010

Five win Rhodes, Marshall grants

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Five U of C students were named to this year’s class of Rhodes and Marshall Scholars over the past week.

Three were named Rhodes Scholars, the Rhodes Trust announced Sunday. Only Harvard and Stanford had as many students named to the scholarship this year.

Prerna Nadathur (A.B. ’10) and fourth-years Anna Alekseyeva and John Scotti are the University’s 46th, 47th, and 48th recipients of the scholarship since 1904.

“Chicago should be very proud to be one of the universities that had three great recipients,” said Elliot Gerson, the American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust. “It frankly seems that the applicant pool gets stronger every year.”

Ben Umans (A.B. ’10) and fourth-year Matthew Jones were awarded Marshall Scholarships, according to a University statement released today.

The Marshall Scholarship subsidizes graduate study at any English university for two or three years. Jones said both he and Umans plan to attend Oxford.

A biology major, Jones said he would study cancer genetics with his Marshall Scholarship. He credited the ethos of the University of Chicago for its good representation amongs the award recipients: “The curriculum here really instills a broad love of learning, and it really comes across,” Jones said. “The spirit of inquiry. That’s one of the reasons we’ve done so well this year.”

The Rhodes Scholarship, which covers tuition, expenses, and a stipend, is awarded to 32 Americans annually for postgraduate study at Oxford University. In a Saturday press release, Gerson estimated that the scholarship is valued at $50,000 per year.

The three Rhodes recipients are from varied backgrounds and fields, College Scholarship Adviser Jen Bess said.

A history and public policy major, Alekseyeva said “[International] development is something I’ve always been peripherally interested in.” She said she had one of her first hands-on experiences in the field this summer as an intern at the Brookings Institution.

At Oxford, Alekseyeva plans to study the interface between development and migration, which she has pursued at the University of Chicago.

For Nadathur, a math major with minors in linguistics and philosophy, her interest in semantics has deep roots that were also fed at the U of C. “I took my first linguistics class at Chicago. Being at Chicago was what made me want to pursue this field,” said Nadathur, who plans on researching semantics at Oxford.

This year’s three recipients cement Chicago as a dominant force in college awards, according to the College scholarship office. “We’ve always been competitive with these things, but it suggests we’re becoming more competitive,” Bess said. This is the fourth year that Chicago has had three recipients, along with 2008, 2006, and 1999.

The scholarship office may have also played a part in that bump. It recently began reaching out to science students after it recognized that the Rhodes Trust awards a significant proportion of awards to those students, Bess said.

Nineteen U of C students have been awarded Marshall Scholarships since 1987, according to a University press release.

Nadathur, who graduated in the spring and is now at the University of Minnesota, credits the scholarship office for helping her get through the application process after she graduated.

“They guide you through the process, setting deadlines that are earlier than the actual deadlines,” said Nadathur, who is a teaching assistant and takes math courses at Minnesota. “It was a really valuable resource for me. They do a really good job of being supportive.”

The college endorsed nine students for the Rhodes Scholarship, five of whom went on to become finalists.

Nadathur says the full process still isn’t over, though. “We actually have to apply to Oxford University now,” Nadathur said. “Apparently it’s possible to receive a Rhodes Scholarship but get denied from Oxford, but I’ve never heard of that happening to anyone.”