UChicago fourth-year Samuel Greene wins Rhodes Scholarship

Samuel Greene, a fourth-year chemistry student in the College, has won a Rhodes Scholarship to continue his studies at the University of Oxford next fall. Greene is one of 32 American students to win the prestigious scholarship this year, and the 49th student at the University of Chicago to earn the scholarship.

“We are enormously proud of the intellectual leadership and creativity of students in the College, and Sam’s outstanding achievement is a testament to those qualities,” said John W. Boyer, dean of the College. “I am extremely happy that Sam will have the chance to continue developing the innovative and highly original scientific work that he began at the College.”

Greene, who also won a prestigious Goldwater Fellowship last year for students in the sciences, has done research at UChicago on the feasibility of converting organic material to biofuel. He said the opportunity to study with the chemists at Oxford will be of great benefit to his own environmental interests. The Rhodes Trust will pay all his expenses to pursue a research-based D.Phil. in physical chemistry.

“They are conducting fundamental research at Oxford with applications to my interest in developing renewable energy technologies,” he said. “I’m very excited to have the opportunity to study these issues in an international context.”

Greene spent last summer tracking the methane emissions of lakes in Alaska, and is writing an MS thesis on his findings. He plans to eventually pursue a PhD in computational physical chemistry, in the hopes of conducting research into the development of renewable energy technologies. This fall, he has worked as a teaching assistant for Prof. David Archer's online course on climate change. Greene also plans to engage in public outreach about climate change.

This year’s list of Rhodes Scholars was announced late Saturday, Nov. 23, immediately following the candidates’ final interviews. In the announcement, Elliot F. Gerson, American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust, described the scholarship as "the oldest and best known award for international study, and arguably the most famous academic award available to American college graduates.”

Greene interviewed for the Rhodes Scholarship in Chicago, for the district that encompasses his hometown of Spring Green, Wisconsin. He said he is still in shock that he won, and is grateful for the help he received from the College in applying.

A growing number of students in the College compete for prestigious fellowships, with extensive support from College faculty and staff members, including Kyle Mox, director of Scholarships and Fellowships in the College. Mox worked with Greene and the College’s other Rhodes finalists on their application materials and helped them prepare for their interviews. Many advisors guide students through the fellowship application process, including helping them with recommendations from faculty members and offering feedback on drafts of application essays.

Greene said the Rhodes application process was demanding, but it ultimately helped him clarify and refine his own goals.

“Kyle Mox and all my faculty advisors have been an indispensible resource,” Greene said.