Five Indian scholars, including one Indian American, from across the world were recently named as the 2019 Rhodes Scholars for India.
According to a Rhodes Trust press release, Indian American Samvida S. Venkatesh of Princeton University, was among the five along with Mihika Poddar of West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences, Shrinidhi Narasimhan of the University of Delhi’s St. Stephen’s College, Saraswat Bhattacharyya of the Indian Institute of Science and Shruti Iyer of London-based King’s College.
Venkatesh has an interest in molecular biology and plans to work in the laboratory of Ahmed Ahmed, professor of gynecological oncology at the Nuffield Department of Women’s and Reproductive Health while continuing the cancer genomics research that she began in Ahmed’s lab during a summer internship in 2017, where she used computational sequencing techniques to analyze ovarian cancer samples, according to a Princeton press release.
“Biology is the lens through which I interpret the world. So much of the human experience, from birth to death, is driven by biology. I believe that to understand this is to understand and serve humanity itself,” Venkatesh said in her essay to the Rhodes Scholarship selection committee for India, Princeton said.
Her research experience also includes leading a Princeton student team for International Genetically Engineered Machine, a worldwide synthetic biology competition.
“I have worked on projects such as tracking the growth of fly embryos, enumerating the differences between cancerous and non-cancerous cells and creating visualizations of viral infection,” Venkatesh is quoted saying in a Princeton press release. “In all of these, my versatility in adapting computational tools to biological problems led me to intriguing insights. The Rhodes Scholarship will allow me to explore genomics in depth in Professor Ahmed’s lab, while simultaneously reinforcing my broader scientific presentation and general reasoning skills through a master’s degree.”
Venkatesh was previously an intern in the lab of Thomas Gregor, an associate professor of physics at the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics.
According to a press release, the selection committee was chaired by Gopalkrishna Gandhi and included noted academics and leading figures from a broad range of sectors and after a highly-competitive application and preliminary selection process, the shortlisted finalists were interviewed by the selection panel culminating in the selection of five winners who would be given the opportunity to pursue their academic interests at the University of Oxford.
“Our Rhodes Scholars-elect are selected after a rigorous process from an outstanding pool of applicants. We are delighted to be able to provide our five chosen scholars unique academic and personal growth opportunities at the University of Oxford and through our scholarship program,” Nandan Kamath, the national secretary of the Rhodes Scholarships for India, said in a statement. “We look forward to participating in their journeys as they interact with and seek to influence the worlds around them.
Each year, five Indian Scholars are selected on the basis of their intellect, character, leadership and commitment to service, to join Rhodes Scholars from around the world at the University of Oxford, the press release adds.