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Courtney C. J. Voelker, a second-year medical student at Dartmouth Medical School, this week was named as one of only 32 American Rhodes Scholars.
Voelker, a 23-year-old native of Portland, Ore., will use the scholarship to pursue a doctoral degree in physiological sciences. Her particular area of interest is nerve regeneration.
"I am humbled by the honor and by the tremendous opportunities it offers," said Voelker.
A Goldwater Scholar who has published several articles in scientific journals about her research on the cancer-fighting chemical taxol, lipids and different types of neurological dysfunctions, Voelker received a National Institutes of Health research award in 1996 for research she conducted on the neurological effects of the herpes simplex virus. She also co-holds a patent for a process for extracting taxol from the Pacific yew tree. She is a 1999 graduate of Brown University, where she earned honors in neuroscience; she previously spent a year studying neuroscience at Oxford University.
According to the Rhodes Scholarship Trust, approximately 95 Rhodes scholars are selected worldwide each year. This year, 950 applicants vied for the 32 scholarships available to American students. The scholarships were created in 1902 by the will of British philanthropist Cecil Rhodes and provide two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England.
Criteria for selection includes academic achievement, personal integrity, potential for leadership and physical vigor, among other qualities. Nearly 3,000 Americans representing 297 colleges and universities have won Rhodes Scholarships since the first selection in 1903. Since 1976 women have been eligible to apply and through 2000, 298 women have won the much-coveted scholarship.
The value of the Rhodes Scholarship varies depending on the academic field, the degree and the Oxford college chosen. The Rhodes Trust pays all college and university fees, provides a stipend to cover living expenses and transportation to and from England. The total value averages approximately $27,000 per year.
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