December 10, 1998
Vol. 18 No. 6

current issue
archive / search

    Three Chicago students named Rhodes scholars

    By Jennifer Leovy
    News Office

    Three Chicago women made history last Saturday. Fourth-year Erin Bohula, a future oncologist, recent graduate Maureen Dunne, humanitarian and autism researcher, and fourth-year Mira Lutgendorf, educator and aspiring author, have each been awarded a Rhodes scholarship for study at Oxford University. This is the first time three Chicago students have received the prestigious scholarship in one year, bringing Chicago’s total number of Rhodes winners to 34 and placing the University into the top ten list of universities with Rhodes scholars.

    “We are thrilled for Erin, Maureen and Mira––and we also think Oxford is fortunate to get them,” said Katie Nash, Dean of Students in the College. “The excellence they all have demonstrated at Chicago makes this a natural fit.”

    Don Lamb, Chairman of the British Scholarships Committee and Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics, celebrated the coup with the students on Sunday as they gave interviews to the news media. Lamb said he was extremely pleased with the strength of Chicago’s candidates. Of the nine students who applied, four successfully went on to the final interview.

    Susan Art, Assistant Dean of Students in the College and Scholarship Advisor, said Chicago’s Rhodes candidates began the process months ago. “First students consider carefully whether study in England is attractive to them. If so, they then plan an appropriate course of study and choose eight people to write recommendations,” said Art.

    The process requires application revisions and interview practice, in which committee members and faculty recommenders participate. Apparently, the process works. The 1998 Rhodes scholars are:

    Erin Bohula, 21, plans to study a broad spectrum of oncology in order to one day lead the fight against cancer. Bohula is currently a biology major who will graduate this spring. She has received numerous awards for her lab research on cell division and regulation. She also has been accepted early to the University’s Pritzker School of Medicine. When she is not in the lab, Bohula can be found playing ultimate Frisbee or varsity softball.

    Stephen J. Kron, M.D., an Assistant Professor in Molecular Genetics & Cell Biology and an investigator in the Center for Molecular Oncology, has been Bohula’s research mentor since her first year. Kron, whose work focuses on control of cell division, said, “The word ‘student’ doesn’t do her justice. It’s really more accurate to say Erin is a young colleague, and one blessed with remarkable talent. In our world, Erin has star quality.”

    Maureen Dunne, 22, plans to do research at Oxford that will support changes in how society responds to the needs of developmentally disabled children. Dunne received her A.B. in psychology and sociology and an A.M. in psychology last June. She recently returned from teaching English and biology to HIV- and AIDS-infected children in Zimbabwe. During her summers, Dunne taught English in the Czech Republic and was a humanitarian aide in Bosnia and Croatia. Dunne is the author of numerous papers on autism, has received awards for her research on autism and is the founder of Reaching to Educate Autistic Citizens Through Hope. Dunne also plays piano and is an avid rock climber.

    “Maureen blends a deep interest in psychology and philosophy with an enduring concern about social welfare and social conditions,” said Dunne’s former teacher, Philip Jackson, the David Lee Shillinglaw Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Education and Psychology. “She is an extraordinary person.”

    Mira Lutgendorf, 21, plans to study the relationship between cultural symbols and national identity. Eventually, she would like to establish a charter school focused on international understanding. Lutgendorf is a general studies in the humanities major, focusing on the role art plays as a symbol of Italian national identity. Lutgendorf is fluent in Italian and “almost” in Hindi, having completed Chicago’s intensive Italian language study program in spring 1997 in Pisa, Italy, and the intensive Hindi program in Mussorie, India, in the summer of 1996. Lutgendorf enjoys playing viola and writing fiction.

    “Mira is one of those exceptional students who inspires her professors with her ability to do research at such a young age,” said Rebecca West, Acting Chair, Department of Romance Languages & Literature. “Although she’s an undergraduate, Mira can jump into a subject as if she is a mature scholar.”

    The Rhodes scholarship, one of the most prestigious academic scholarships, was established in the will of British colonial pioneer and statesman Cecil J. Rhodes and was initiated upon his death in 1902. Rhodes hoped that his plan of bringing able students from throughout the world to study at Oxford would aid in the promotion of international understanding and peace and the personal and intellectual development of his scholars. The scholarship provides a tuition and living stipend to 32 Americans for two years of study in any field.