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Rhodes Show: Kathryn Twyman '09 Wins Scholarship to Study at Oxford

Kathryn Twyman '09 of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, has won a Canadian Rhodes Scholarship to study at the University of Oxford in England. She is a double major in chemistry and physics with a minor in biology. Twyman is also a member of Dartmouth's Women in Science Project (WISP) and the varsity crew team.

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Rhodes scholars Kathryn Twyman ’09 (right) and Megan Steven ’02. Since the first American Rhodes Scholars were named in 1904, Dartmouth has had 72 winners. Click here to learn more about them. (Photo by Joseph Mehling ’69)
Megan Steven '02 spoke with Twyman for Dartmouth Life. Steven is a Rhodes scholar herself and received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Oxford in 2005. She is assistant dean of the faculty for administration at Dartmouth and a visiting assistant professor, teaching courses in psychological and brain sciences and the writing program.

STEVEN: The Rhodes application process can be really intense. How did you find it?

TWYMAN: I never experienced anything quite like it. The interview committee asked completely off-the-wall questions. I was asked to explain everything from quantum mechanics to my opinion on women's rights in the Middle East.

It was interesting to meet the other competitors for the scholarship. They were fascinating people. During the interviews, we were in the same hotel. It was actually a lot of fun because you're all in the same situation. We were all nervous, so we shared our nerves with each other.

Listen to Twyman and Steven discuss the Rhodes interview process, scholarship advising at Dartmouth, and more in this podcast.

STEVEN: What will you study at Oxford?

TWYMAN: I'll be studying for the Ph.D. in physical chemistry. I'm really excited to work under Professor Tim Softley, who studies chemical reactions that occur in ultra-cold conditions. His research is fascinating. Specifically, I'll be looking at ultracold reactions of carbonyl species and Rydberg molecules.

STEVEN: In addition to academic excellence, the Rhodes selection process emphasizes leadership qualities demonstrated through "physical vigor" or participation in sports.  How have sports contributed to your education?

TWYMAN: You can learn a lot from sports through a team: self-discipline, time management, and the ability to lead. Hard work is something that has carried over from sports into all aspects of my life.

STEVEN: How have you balanced your academic goals with your athletic ones at Dartmouth?

TWYMAN: It is a tough thing to balance. But for me, personally, it's very much a part of who I am. I love academics, but I find it great to get out on the water to clear my mind. I find it reenergizing. And it keeps me going in the rest of my life, in other pursuits.

STEVEN: Are there any challenges you expect to face at Oxford?

TWYMAN: The Ph.D. program is only three years in the United Kingdom-compared to five years in North America. In the UK, students specialize sooner at the undergraduate level. But with the courses I've taken at Dartmouth I'll be well prepared.  I'm just so excited to go and soak it all up.

Questions or comments about this article? We welcome your feedback.

Last Updated: 1/19/10