Recent IU Bloomington alumna Jennifer Huang named Rhodes Scholar

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Her research passions include disciplines as divergent as mathematics, environmental anthropology and poetry, and her hobbies include rock climbing and fiction writing. She won multiple awards during her time as an Indiana University Bloomington student, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with the highest distinction and a 3.95 grade-point average in December 2017.

Now, IU alumna Jennifer Huang has been named a 2019 Rhodes Scholar. Huang is one of just 32 U.S. college students to receive the prestigious academic award.

"One of Jenny's Rhodes interviewers -- South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg -- was so impressed that he hired her to work for him," IU President Michael A. McRobbie said. "Jenny is a rare and refreshingly different kind of student, a pure thinker who defined herself in terms of her intellectual interests -- in her words, 'the fledgling questions that I want to answer' -- rather than in terms of a particular profession or academic field. Jenny's intellectual curiosity is grounded by her strong pragmatism and humane concern for others."

The 2019 U.S. Rhodes Scholars were announced Sunday by the Rhodes Trust. The scholarships cover all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England and may allow funding in some instances for four years.

Huang is IU's fourth recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship in the past 10 years and the 18th awardee since 1905. IU has now had two Rhodes Scholars in the past three years.

Huang earned her B.S. and B.A. in mathematics and social and cultural analysis, both in IU's College of Arts and Sciences, graduating with honors. From Granger, Indiana, she was co-valedictorian of Penn High School and came to IU as a Wells Scholar, one of 20 recipients of the university's most prestigious scholarship. She served as an intern for McRobbie, for whom she prepared a strategic plan for the digitization and preservation of the university's teaching and research collections.

 "I am profoundly honored and humbled to be named a Rhodes Scholar," Huang said. "I'm brimming with gratitude for the professors, mentors and friends at Indiana University who have continuously pushed me to grow, learn and care about the complex world around us.

"In particular, I'm indebted to the Wells Scholars Program for the guidance and community that they provided since the very first day I stepped foot on campus. This university has shaped the values that I bring to my research, storytelling and public service, and I look forward to carrying those experiences to Oxford and beyond."

Huang's awards and honors at IU include the 2017 Stahr Senior Recognition Award, the 2017 Individualized Major Program Richard Young Award, the 2017 Myrtle Armstrong Best Undergraduate Fiction Award and the 2016 and 2017 Marie S. Wilcox Prize in Mathematics. In 2016, she was a National Science Foundation undergraduate fellow at the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico.

Her research and creative projects included her undergraduate thesis, "Stewardship of Iceland's Renewable Energy Resources," which focused on the cultural, economic and environmental tradeoffs associated with the advanced development of Iceland's geothermal energy industry. Through her "Cultural Evolution and the Poetic Canon" project, she examined the role of poetic exemplars in shaping the evolution of 20th-century Anglo-American verse, studying about 26,000 poems published in Poetry Magazine. Supported by an IU Arts & Humanities Council "China Remixed" Creative Grant, she co-produced a portfolio of podcast and prose pieces that profiled Chinese Americans in Indiana.

In April 2018, Huang co-authored a paper about the French Revolution and political behavior in leading science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. She served as vice president of the Board of Aeons, a panel of student leaders that advises the university president.

Following graduation, she has been a research and editorial assistant for Buttigieg for his forthcoming book "Shortest Way Home" and a policy associate at the mayor's office in South Bend. She also serves as the civic engagement program coordinator at the Institute of Politics at the University of Chicago.

With her Rhodes Scholarship, Huang will pursue graduate degrees in the social science of the internet and in public policy.

The Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest and best-known award for international study and is arguably the most famous academic award available to American college graduates. It was created in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes, British philanthropist and African colonial pioneer.

This year, more than 2,500 students sought the scholarships, and 880 applicants were endorsed by 281 colleges and universities. Committees of Selection in 16 U.S. districts interviewed the strongest candidates.

Scholars are chosen on the basis of academic excellence, leadership, ambition for impact, concern for others and potential to make a difference for good in the world. The scholarship, valued at approximately $70,000 per year, pays all college and university fees and a stipend for expenses.

Below is a list of all of IU's Rhodes Scholars.

  • 1905 -- Frank R. Aydelotte
  • 1913 -- Richard Simpson
  • 1919 -- Ernest R. Baltzell
  • 1920 -- Ernest K. Lindley
  • 1925 -- Philip Blair Rice
  • 1928 -- Harlan D. Logan
  • 1953 -- Joseph B. Board Jr.
  • 1964 -- Stephen K. Smith
  • 1970 -- William H. Wolfe
  • 1983 -- Barbara J. Toman
  • 1985 -- Joel Thomas-Adams
  • 1995 -- Zachary J. Ziliak
  • 2001 -- Raju Raval
  • 2003 -- Kathleen Tran
  • 2010 -- Mutsa Mutembwa
  • 2012 -- Esther O. Uduehi
  • 2017 -- Morgan Mohr
  • 2019 -- Jennifer Huang

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