Rhodes Scholars ‘bring great honor’

Arts & Sciences seniors Bethany Ehlmann and Allison Gilmore received early holiday presents Nov. 22, when they were announced as recipients of Rhodes Scholarships.

Since 1902, 23 Washington University students have won the highly acclaimed award. Six have been named in just the past five years.

Rhodes Scholars Allison Gilmore (left) and Bethany Ehlmann chat in Holmes Lounge. Ehlmann is a double major in earth and planetary sciences and environmental studies, both in Arts & Sciences. Gilmore is studying for joint bachelor's and master's degrees in mathematics in Arts & Sciences.
Rhodes Scholars Allison Gilmore (left) and Bethany Ehlmann chat in Holmes Lounge. Ehlmann is a double major in earth and planetary sciences and environmental studies, both in Arts & Sciences. Gilmore is studying for joint bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics in Arts & Sciences.

The two were among 32 students in the United States chosen from 963 applicants. Winners were selected based on high academic achievement, personal integrity, leadership potential and physical vigor.

Ehlmann and Gilmore will be provided two years of all-expenses-paid study at Oxford University in England and will begin their studies next fall.

“It is gratifying to see such talented, creative and committed students like Bethany and Allison achieve at such a high level,” Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton said. “Washington University is proud of them and their accomplishments. They are representative of the kind of students we have at Washington University, and their success ennobles the entire Washington University community.”

Edward S. Macias, Ph.D., executive vice chancellor and dean of Arts & Sciences, echoed Wrighton.

“It is with great pride that we congratulate Bethany and Allison for their extraordinary achievement,” Macias said. “They bring great honor to Washington University and reflect well the academic and social environment at our university, the quality of our students and faculty, and the commitment of Washington University to the world. We wish them well at Oxford University.”

As chair of the Washington University Committee on Post-Graduate Scholarships and Fellowships, Michael R. Cannon, executive vice chancellor and general counsel, became acquainted with Ehlmann and Gilmore.

“Bethany and Allison are wonderfully accomplished, intellectually dynamic and service-oriented young women,” said Cannon, a WUSTL Rhodes Scholar in 1973. “The committee tries to identify students who could be strong candidates for the most rewarding and prestigious postgraduate scholarships, makes them aware of those opportunities, offers a limited amount of advising in connection with the competition, and then gets well out of their way as they do all the rest.”

Both students are in the Arts & Sciences Honorary Scholars Program, which provides various named full-tuition scholarships with stipends to outstanding applicants.

Ehlmann is from Edwardsville, Ill., but grew up in Tallahassee, Fla. Her family moved to Edwardsville in 2000 when her father, Bryon Ehlmann, became a computer science professor at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

“This is a tremendous honor,” Ehlmann said. “There are so many great candidates from which to choose. It’s just sinking in that I’m actually going to England to study.

“I owe a big tip of the hat to my adviser, Dr. Ray Arvidson, but there have been so many great people at Washington University who have influenced me that I want to thank them all.”

Ehlmann is a double major in earth and planetary sciences and environmental studies, both in Arts & Sciences. She will work as a collaborating scientist in January on the Mars exploration rover mission and travel to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

She will pursue a master’s degree in geography at Oxford, where she will study environmental geomorphology, which involves the relationship between landscape evolution and human factors.

Ehlmann has been a Robinson Fellow and an Arthur Holly Compton Scholar for four years at Washington University. She was both a Barry M. Goldwater Scholar in Science, Mathematics and Engineering and Morris K. Udall Scholar in Environmental Studies in 2002-03. She won the Varney Prize in Undergraduate Physics in 2001.

She received a Fossett Fellowship for the Pathfinder Program in environmental studies in 2001. In the Pathfinder Program — a special curriculum allowing students the chance to specialize in topics and to examine them from many different academic perspectives — Ehlmann works in the earth and planetary science department’s Remote Sensing Laboratory.

She made trips to Hawaii and modeled various geographical features, which led to her submitting several scholarly papers and making presentations at professional conferences.

Ehlmann has been a teaching assistant for the “Remote Sensing” course in earth and planetary sciences. She has also been a peer adviser for freshmen in Arts & Sciences and academic mentor for geology courses for Student Educational Services.

Twice she’s been elected as an Arts & Sciences senator for Student Union, and since 2002 she has been a student representative on the Chancellor’s Committee on Environmental Quality.

She has been a member of the women’s ultimate Frisbee club team since 2001 and was its president in 2002-03. She is active in intramural sports, runs and lifts weights, among other activities.

Gilmore is studying for joint bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics in Arts & Sciences. Her area of study at Oxford will be social network theory, in which she intends to study social and political movements using mathematical tools.

“This is an amazing opportunity,” Gilmore said. “I expect it to feel the same way as the first time I stepped onto a college campus — at MIT for a research program my junior year in high school.

“It’s the feeling that I’ll be in this special place among peers, all of us intently devoted to learning. I expect the feeling to be like that, only 100 times stronger.”

Gilmore, from Eagan, Minn., a suburb of St. Paul, is president of the Washington University Students for Sensible Drug Policy and has been active in the Stop the War Coalition on campus.

Gilmore noted that Robert Canfield, Ph.D., professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences, has been influential in her choice of study at Oxford. His “Social Movements” class, which she took in the spring of her sophomore year, introduced her to the topic of mathematically modeling social movements.

In her mathematics studies, she credits co-advisers John McCarthy, Ph.D., professor of mathematics, and Rachel Roberts, Ph.D., associate professor of mathematics, as being influential — McCarthy as a teacher who helped her in demanding courses, Roberts as an adviser and role model.

At Oxford, she expects to have supervisors in both sociology and mathematics.

Since starting Washington University in fall 2000, Gilmore has been an Arthur Holly Compton Scholar for merit in mathematics or physical sciences; a Howard Nemerov Scholar, awarded for merit in writing; and a Robert C. Byrd Scholar for general academic merit.

Her minor will be in writing, and she has been a news reporter and editorial writer for Student Life. She has also been a Florence Moog Scholar, awarded to science students with broad interests, since fall 2002.

Gilmore was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa this spring. She has been a member of the Undergraduate Math Club all four years; has been a mentor through Student Educational Services since fall 2002; and has assisted students at the calculus help desk.

During her freshman year, she mentored K-12 students in the Each One Teach One program, which reaches out to city students bused to suburban schools.

Gilmore has been a pianist in the Washington University Jazz Band since her freshman year and likes to sail, cycle and play intramural softball.

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