Washington University in St. Louis seniors Madeleine Daepp, an economics and mathematics major, and Jeremy Pivor, an environmental biology major, both in Arts & Sciences, were finalists for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.
This year, approximately 1,700 students sought endorsement of their Rhodes’ application from their college or university. Daepp and Pivor were among 212 applicants from 88 different colleges and universities to reach the final stage of the competition, which included traveling for a district interview.
Thirty-two students from across the United States receive Rhodes Scholarships, which provide all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England. The Rhodes Scholars were announced Nov. 17.
Rhodes Scholars are selected on the basis of their undergraduate academic achievements, personal integrity, leadership potential and physical vigor.
“To be chosen as a Rhodes finalist from hundreds of applications is such an achievement in and of itself,” says Joy Zalis Kiefer, PhD, fellowship adviser, assistant dean in the College of Arts & Sciences, and director of undergraduate research. “This honor speaks to their excellence on academic achievement, but also to their integrity, character and commitment to serving others,” she says. “We are very proud to have had them represent Washington University on the national stage.”
The Rhodes Trust, a British charity established to honor the will and bequest of Cecil J. Rhodes, provides full financial support for Rhodes Scholars to pursue a degree or degrees at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom.
Daepp, a native of Lewisburg, Pa., would like to pursue a career in agricultural policy.
“I would really like to mediate between farmers, researchers and policymakers to encourage the innovation and implementation of more sustainable food production practices,” she says.
The holder of an Arnold J. Lien scholarship, a merit scholarship in social sciences, she was admitted to Washington University as part of the extremely competitive Honorary Scholars Program.
At the end of her junior year, she was awarded both Truman and Udall scholarships. The Truman scholarships are awarded for dedication to public service and the Udall scholarships for commitment to an environmental career.
As co-president of Burning Kumquat, a student-run garden, Daepp has led many efforts on campus and in the St. Louis community to raise awareness about the economic and environmental issues surrounding food production. She worked with members of the university administration and food service to supply produce from the student garden to the dining facilities and to facilitate a farmer’s market for the campus community during the growing season.
With the help of a Gephardt Institute for Public Service Civic Engagement grant, she developed and implemented a math and food education curriculum for the Amir Project, an environmental education and gardening project for inner-city youth in St. Louis.
She sought out interesting summer experiences as well. In 2010, she worked at Biohof Schüpfenried, an organic farm in Bern, Switzerland.
In the summer of 2011, she explored agricultural economics through a National Science Foundation Research Experiences for Undergraduates (NSF REU) grant at the University of Minnesota.
There, she worked on two projects: one to evaluate whether informational labels on earthworms sold as bait would reduce their release in Minnesota’s northern forest, where they are considered an invasive species, and the other to evaluate obstacles to establishing volunteer monitoring networks for invasive insect pests.
In 2012, she won an NSF REU grant and became an Edward A. Knapp Undergraduate Fellow at the Santa Fe Institute, where she constructed mortality curves for companies based on a dataset of almost 30,000 publicly traded U.S. companies.
At Washington University, she is a teaching assistant for an advanced-level macroeconomics course taught by Professor Steve Fazzari, PhD, as well as a research assistant for MuddyWaterMacro.wustl.edu, a web site Fazzari is building to explain macroeconomics to a broad audience.
She attributes her interest in sustainable food to her father. Both of her parents are mathematicians at Bucknell University in Lewisburg, but her father, who is from Bern, Switzerland, was raised in a culture where produce was eaten fresh and only in season.
Pivor is a native of Concord, Mass. His goal is to become an advocate for the sustainable conservation and management of the world’s oceans.
Pivor was admitted to the Pathfinder Program in Environmental Sustainability, a four-year educational program at Washington University that allows students to examine the issues surrounding environmental sustainability through case studies and field trips.
A J. Stephen Fossett Pathfinder Fellow, he became a Florence Moog scholar in his sophomore year. At the end of his junior year, he won a Udall scholarship for commitment to an environmental career.
Together with fellow student Jiakun (Summer) Zhao, Pivor founded
Washington University Students for International Collaboration on the
Environment (WUSICE). Through WUSICE, he organized Washington University’s first
U.S.-China Undergraduate Conference on Climate Change and
Sustainability, inviting students from Fudan University in Shanghai,
China, to St. Louis to discuss the challenge of climate change.
In 2011, Pivor organized the university’s first delegation to the
United Nations climate-change conference in Durban, South Africa,
where he also served as the Sierra Club’s student coalition’s
international youth delegate.
His junior year, he traveled to Madagascar to work on marine conservation projects for Blue Ventures, a London-based NGO.
This experience left a deep impression on him. “The local people understand the ocean is changing,” he says, “and have taken local actions to protect the reefs. Yet even with their passionate work, I fear that climate change will eventually destroy their reefs and way of life.
“I left Madagascar with a desire to dedicate my life not just to solving issues, but also to stand up for the millions of people around the world who depend on the ocean for their survival.”
Immediately following his trip to Madagascar, Pivor traveled to Woods Hole, Mass., for a Sea Education Association semester. The semester included intensive study at Woods Hole and a five-week voyage on the SSV Corwith Cramer, a fully equipped blue-water oceanographic vessel that is also a tall ship. During the third phase of the semester, the students developed conservation plans for the Sargasso Sea.
Not incidentally, he is the president and senior-ranking EMT for the Emergency Support Team, a student-run emergency medical service that serves the Washington University community