University of Pittsburgh
November 20, 2005

Pitt Chancellor's Scholar Named 2006 Rhodes Scholar

Pitt's Justin Chalker is among 32 U.S. students chosen from throughout the country Pitt one of only three U.S. public universities with 2006 Rhodes Scholar
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PITTSBURGH-University of Pittsburgh Chancellor's Scholar Justin Chalker, a Pitt Honors College senior majoring in chemistry and in the history and philosophy of science, today was chosen as a 2006 Rhodes Scholar by the Rhodes Trust. Chalker, also a 2005 Goldwater Scholar, is the fourth Pitt Honors College student chosen to win the prestigious international Rhodes award since 1983.

Rhodes Scholarships, the oldest of the international study awards available to American students, provide two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England.

"My first opportunity to meet with Justin and discuss his work came last year, when he was chosen to be a Goldwater Scholar," said Pitt Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg. "I was impressed with the breadth of his interests, the advanced nature of his scientific research, and his very positive human qualities. Being named a Rhodes Scholar is one of the highest honors available to an undergraduate student, and Justin Chalker is a very deserving recipient of this recognition.

"The high levels of success enjoyed by University of Pittsburgh students in such national and international competitions also is a reflection of the strength of our undergraduate programs," continued Nordenberg. "Dean Alec Stewart and his colleagues in our Honors College have played a particularly significant role in elevating the overall quality of the undergraduate academic experience here at Pitt. As this award makes clear, their work has positioned us to attract and educate some of the most talented students in the world."

Chalker, an undergraduate teaching assistant in the Pitt School of Arts and Sciences' chemistry department, is the founder of the Pitt Y-Sci Fest, a science research fair for area high school students. He is completing research on new chemical reactions in the synthesis of kainic acid, an organic compound used in Alzheimer's disease research, under the direction of Pitt Professor Emeritus of Chemistry Theodore Cohen. In addition to pursuing his other majors, Chalker, from Meade, Kan., is completing requirements for the Bachelor of Philosophy degree in the Honors College. His career interests are in the field of synthetic organic chemistry, and he plans to pursue the Master of Science degree by research in organic chemistry at Oxford.

Commenting on Chalker's triumph, Pitt's Honors College dean and Rhodes institutional representative Alec Stewart noted, "There is no higher validation of past attainment and future promise for an undergraduate than to win a Rhodes. Qualities of character and intellect are mandatory. A brilliant mind, a philanthropic spirit devoted to public service, and an active engagement with physical vigor are essential. Chalker possesses all three." Stewart also noted that Cohen of Pitt's chemistry department had been "a phenomenal mentor for Chalker in the demanding field of organic chemistry," and that Amy Eckhardt, director of national scholarships and international programming in the Honors College, had guided Chalker's candidacy through the various stages of essay writing and interview preparation. "The world will hear more from Chalker," said Stewart.

This year's U.S. winners-32 students from 22 institutions of higher learning-came from a pool of 903 applicants from 333 colleges and universities. Pitt was one of only three public universities to have a Rhodes Scholar chosen for 2006. Those chosen will enter the University of Oxford next October.

Rhodes Scholarships are the legacy of British colonial pioneer, statesman, and philanthropist Cecil J. Rhodes, who died in 1902. Although intellectual distinction is a necessary requirement for selection as a Rhodes Scholar, it is not sufficient. The selection process seeks excellence in qualities of mind and of person, which, in combination, offer the promise of effective service to the world in decades ahead. Thus, winners are chosen on the basis of high academic achievement, personal integrity, leadership potential, and physical vigor, among other attributes.

The value of the Rhodes Scholarship varies depending on the academic field, the degree (B.A., master's, doctoral), and the Oxford college chosen. The Rhodes Trust pays all college and university fees, provides a stipend to cover necessary expenses while in residence at Oxford as well as during vacations, and transportation to and from England. The total value averages approximately $40,000 per year.

Pitt's other three Rhodes Scholars are David Frederick (CAS '83), 1983; Donna Roberts (CAS '85), 1987; and Nathan Urban (CAS '91, FAS'96, '98), 1991.