University of Wisconsin-Madison seniors Qianyun (Lexi) Luo and Hawra Aljawad are finalists in competition this year for the Rhodes Scholarship, one of the world’s most prestigious and selective academic awards.
The 32 Americans selected for Rhodes Scholars were announced on November 20. An additional 203 American students have made it to the finalists for the most prestigious awards, including Lou. The horse reached the finals in its home country of Saudi Arabia. (Scholarships are awarded by countries or groups of countries.)
Luo, of Bloomington, Illinois, is a biochemist and statistician. Horse majoring in chemical engineering and biochemistry.
“Reaching the final stage is a great honor – only the most elite students can claim this achievement,” says Vice-Chancellor Karl Schulze. “We are very proud of Howrah and Lexi and all that they have accomplished during their time with us. I know they will continue to do great things in their careers.”
Luo has conducted cancer research for more than three years in two laboratories, and has co-authored three publications. Since her first year, she has worked with Professor Randall Kimball, Director of Cancer Biology and Translational Medicine in the Department of Human Oncology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, researching a potential mechanistic pathway to induce radiation sensitivity in head and neck cancer. Lu also conducts research in immunology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center under Assistant Professor Alexander Rubin.
Due to her strong research skills and leadership capabilities, Lu was selected to serve as a University Teaching Assistant at the Introduction to Biochemistry course and as a Peer Group Leader for the Advanced Biochemistry Methods course. She works as a teacher at the University’s Great Teaching Service, a facilitator with the student-run Peer Learning Association and an academic advisor at the Center for Academic Excellence.
“Lexi and Hawra embrace a rich array of learning opportunities here at UW-Madison, to pursue the latest research and community service.”
Beginning in her first year, Al-Jawad worked in several laboratories focused on health research, including those dedicated to understanding Alzheimer’s disease and the influenza virus. She is currently an undergraduate researcher in the Department of Neurology.
During her time on campus, the horse was a volunteer troop leader for the Girl Scouts of Wisconsin-Badgerland, a facilitator for the Peer Learning Association at UW-Madison and a volunteer with the SCIENCountERS at the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County. She is a member of the Association of Women in Engineering and the Wisconsin Engineering Student Council.
Both Lu and the horse have received many prestigious awards. In 2021, Luo was named a Goldwater National Researcher and Research Astronaut. Both awards support American students who show promise to become part of the next generation of STEM research leaders. Al-Jawad was awarded the Gifted Student Program at King Abdullah University. The King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia awards it to 100 first-class high school students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the United States.
“Lexi and Hawra have embraced a rich array of learning opportunities here at UW-Madison, to pursue cutting-edge research and community service,” says Julie Stubbs, director of the Office of Undergraduate Academic Awards, who assisted both students through the application process. “They are committed to careers in biomedical research and have the potential to become leaders in their fields. We were proud to have represented the University at the Rhodes Competition.”
Rhodes Scholarships provide all expenses for several years of study at Oxford University in England. Candidates are judged on a track record of intellectual and academic achievement, integrity of character, concern for and respect for others, ability to lead, and energy to make full use of their talents.