November 21, 2018

Four PU Seniors Win Rhodes Scholarships For Study at Oxford

By Donald Gilpin

Three Princeton University seniors were among 32 United States Rhodes Scholars chosen for 2019, including a record 21 women. A fourth Princeton senior is one of five recipients  from India.

Nicolette D’Angelo, John Hoffmeyer, Katharine (Kate) Reed, and Samvida Sudheesh Venkatesh, who was named last month as a winner from India, will all begin their studies at Oxford University in October 2019. 

Almost half of the U.S. recipients, named Sunday, are either immigrants or first-generation Americans, according to the Rhodes Trust. Recipients are chosen not only for their scholarly achievements, but also for their character, commitment to others and to the common good, and for their potential for leadership in their chosen careers. 

D’Angelo, a classics major from Hewitt, N.J., is interested in exposing more people to classics. She is committed to understanding the ancient world and in relating that world to contemporary concerns. She hopes one day to become a professor of classics at a public university, according to a Princeton University Office of Communications press release.

“I hope to use my Rhodes Scholarship to establish a public platform for displaying the relevance of antiquity to our world today,” she said. “I hope to inspire budding classicists and non-classicists alike to examine the global reception of ideas from the amazing yet deeply troubling worlds of ancient Greece and ancient Rome.”

At Princeton, in addition to her work in classics, she is pursuing certificates in creative writing, humanistic studies, and gender and sexuality studies. She plans to work towards the M. St. in classics at Oxford.

A recipient of the national Beinecke Scholarship and of Princeton’s Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence, D’Angelo interned last summer at the Paideia Institute in Rome, where she helped write educational materials for the study of Greek and Latin. She also teaches Latin to elementary students through Princeton Young Achievers.

John Hoffmeyer, a comparative literature major from Florence, S.C., is pursuing certificates in Chinese language and culture and music performance (piano) at Princeton, and plans to work towards the M.St. in modern languages at Oxford.

Bridging the worlds of literature and music, of academic scholarship and musical performance, Hoffmeyer is interested in extending access to music to more people and communities. He earned a silver medal at the 2015 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and was a Young Artist at the Southeastern Piano Festival, where he also helped to judge the Arthur Fraser International Piano Competition. 

Hoffmeyer founded the Princeton Chamber Music Society (PCMS) last year with the goal of extending access to Princeton’s music faculty to communities in the area. 

“While at Oxford, I plan to work with students and faculty on campus, along with the Oxford Chamber Music Society, to develop interdisciplinary performance opportunities like what PCMS has offered at Princeton,” he said.

After Oxford, Hoffmeyer plans to complete his Ph.D. in music or comparative literature and present lecture recitals combining music, literature, and philosophy.

Reed, a history major from Arnold, Md., with certificates in Latin American studies and Spanish, plans to pursue the M.Phil. in development studies at Oxford.

Elected to Phi Betta Kappa this fall and a two-time recipient of Princeton’s Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence, Reed has focused her research on the relationship between the United States and Latin America

“At and after Oxford, I would like my work to trace the history of how we understand others, and consequently ourselves, and how a more nuanced understanding of our past might encourage greater empathy in our present,” she said. “I have had incredible opportunities to conduct archival research in the U.S. and Mexico, to develop classes on global history and immigration policy for immigrant students, to translate hundreds of pages for nonprofits, and to run campaigns for immigrant rights in New Jersey — experiences that have informed my desire to work at the intersection of academia and activism.”

Reed plans to pursue a Ph.D. in history after Oxford, and hopes to work as an educator. She has received the Lawrence Stone and Shelby Cullom Davis Prize from Princeton’s history department and the Paul A. Stellhorn Award in New Jersey History. She helped to create and teach an ESL-adapted history class for recent migrant students at Princeton High School and continues to assist in the school’s ESL class. She is a project leader and ESL instructor with El Centro ESL through the Pace Center for Civic Engagement, which provides English classes to adult immigrants in Trenton and Princeton.

Venkatesh, a molecular biology major from Bangalore, India, is pursuing certificates in computer science and quantitative and computational biology. 

At Oxford, she looks forward to pursuing an M.Sc. in biochemistry, and she plans to work in the gynecology laboratory of Ahmed Ahmed at the Nuffield Department of Women’s and Reproductive Health. She began her research in cancer genomics, using computational sequencing techniques to analyze ovarian cancer samples, in Ahmed’s lab during a summer 2017 internship.

“Biology is the lens through which I interpret the world,” Venkatesh wrote in her essay to the Rhodes Scholarship selection committee. “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 won the Shapiro Prize for Academic Excellence in 2016, and has worked during the past year as a research assistant in Molecular Biology Professor Ileana Cristea’s lab, studying viral infection and host-pathogen interactors.

Venkatesh also has an interest in science education and writing. She is a head peer tutor at Princeton’s McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning, a senior science writer for The Daily Princetonian newspaper, and a STEM children’s book author for Pratham Books in Bangalore.