Three Duke Students Receive Rhodes Scholarships

November 22, 2005

DURHAM, N.C. -- Three Duke University seniors were among the 32 recipients selected this weekend for prestigious Rhodes Scholarships.

The Duke recipients -- Adam D. Chandler of Burlington, N.C.; William L. Hwang and Rahul Satija, both of Potomac, Md. -- were chosen from among 903 applicants at 333 colleges and universities throughout the country. Rhodes Scholarships, created in 1902 by the will of British philanthropist Cecil Rhodes, provide two or three years of study at Oxford University in England.

“Not only do these students have extraordinary expertise in their specialties, but they are also incredibly impressive in their extracurricular activities,” said Melissa Malouf, director of the Office of Undergraduate Scholars and Fellows at Duke. “This was a banner year for Duke. Not only did we have three winners, but five others were regional finalists.”

Rhodes Scholarship recipients are selected on the basis of high academic achievement, personal integrity, leadership potential and physical vigor, among other attributes.

Chandler is a senior math major at Duke. He has carried out numerous research projects in the field of applied computational mathematics, including work on computational quantum chemistry, molecular evolution, traffic modeling and linguistics. He served as a research intern at the National Security Agency where he focused on problems in cryptography.

A Goldwater and Byrd Scholar, Chandler is managing editor of the “Journal of Young Investigators.” He is also a cellist and president of the Duke Symphony Orchestra, and volunteered in an orphanage in Tanzania. He was one of three members of a Duke team to win a Mathematical Association of America prize for best solution to a problem posed in the 2005 Mathematical Contest in Modeling.

Chandler plans to pursue a master’s degree in applied and computational mathematics at Oxford.

Hwang, who is also the recipient of a Marshall Scholarship, is a triple major in biomedical engineering, electrical and computer engineering, and physics. He has earned only a single grade in coursework lower than an A+, and that was an A. He is also part of a research team developing electrical chips to quickly perform chemical analyses of small amounts of a substance.

In 2003, he co-founded a non-profit organization, United InnoWorks Academy, Inc., that develops creative science and engineering programs for young people from underprivileged backgrounds. Hwang describes the program in a Duke News article and video at He has received Goldwater and National Science Foundation awards, and is a member of a men’s volleyball squad at Duke.

Hwang, an A.B. Duke Scholar, will pursue a doctorate in biological physics at Oxford.

Satija, also a recipient of a Marshall Scholarship, is a senior majoring in biology and music with a minor in math. He has been carrying out research in bioinformatics, currently focused on the sea urchin genome and smallpox virus.

Awarded a Goldwater Scholarship for his scientific work, he is also concertmaster for the Duke Symphony Orchestra, first violinist of a student string quartet and holds Duke’s only music performance scholarship. He has won first prize in competitions, including the Russian-American International Festival of Young Virtuosos and the Durham Symphony Concerto Competition. Additionally, he has performed in orchestral concerts at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and Carnegie Hall in New York. He teaches violin to inner city youth in Durham, and plays with the Duke recreational tennis club.

Satija plans to pursue a doctoral degree in bioinformatics at Oxford.

The United States Naval Academy has four Rhodes Scholars this year, the most of any institution. Yale, the University of Chicago and Duke each had three recipients. No other school had more than one recipient.

The value of the Rhodes Scholarship varies depending on the academic field, the degree (B.A., master’s, doctoral), and the Oxford college chosen. The Rhodes Trust pays all college and university fees, provides a stipend to cover necessary expenses while in residence in Oxford and during vacations, and transportation to and from England. The total value averages about $40,000 per year.