Twyman '09 named Rhodes scholar

by Marielle Battistoni | 11/25/08 3:36am

Kathryn Twyman '09 will pursue a Ph.D. degree in physical chemistry at Oxford University as a Canadian Rhodes Scholar next year. Twyman, a chemistry and physics double major and biology minor, said she learned of her selection Saturday night and is looking forward to working closely with Oxford professor Tim Softley, who specializes in ultra-cold reactions.

At Dartmouth, Twyman is a member of the women's rowing team, walking on to the team her freshman year though she had never rowed before. Being a student-athlete has been "tricky," she said, and has required extensive planning. She added that being on the crew team has offered her a "great break" that is "re-energizing and keeps [her] going."

Twyman has rowed with the leaders of the women's varsity crew team since her sophomore year, according to teammate Nell Pascall '09. In 2007 Twyman competed in the 2007 NCAA Division I national rowing championship, won the 2007 Collegiate Lightweight World Indoor Rowing Championship and received the All-Ivy Academic honor award.

"I really think that Kathryn is going to change the world," Laura Gardner '10, who has been on the women's crew team with Twyman for two and a half years, said.

Kate Harney '09, one of Twyman's teammates, praised Twyman's humility, determination and energetic nature.

"She's a great member of the team and I can always count on her to give me a cheery 'good morning' every day, even at 5:45 a.m.," Harney said in an e-mail to The Dartmouth. "Over the years, she has somehow found a way to balance an extremely rigorous course load with an intense varsity sport and has still found a way to play the piano, crochet and still get to bed at 10 p.m. every night."

Twyman is a Rufus Choate scholar, which recognizes students in the top 5 percent of their class. She has received eight academic citations, all in the sciences, according to a Dartmouth press release.

Twyman has also been active in the Women in Science Project, volunteering in biology professor Roger Sloboda's lab working with "proteins in flagellar tip complexes," she said. She attended the language study abroad program to Spain her junior fall, and biked from Portsmouth, N.H. to Vancouver, Canada the summer after her freshman year to raise money for the organization Bike and Build, she said.

Robert Cantor, a chemistry professor who has worked closely with Twyman in class and on independent research since her freshman fall, counted her among the best students he has encountered.

"She has a superb work ethic, is utterly reliable, and has a delightfully cheerful personality," Cantor said. "In spite of her extraordinary achievements, she hasn't even a hint of the arrogance so depressingly common among Dartmouth undergraduates."

Biology professor Kathryn Cottingham, who wrote one of the six recommendations Twyman submitted for the scholarship, said she was "very impressed" with Kathryn during her time in Cottingham's Winter 2008 biostatistics course.

"Kathryn is among the very best Dartmouth students, undergraduate or graduate, that I have taught in the past decade," Cottingham said. "I was both stunned and pleased to find out that she is also a talented intercollegiate athlete. Kathryn's combination of academic and athletic accomplishments is formidable, and I have difficulty imagining a person who better meets the description of a Rhodes Scholar."

Of the 60 applicants who applied for the Canadian Rhodes Scholarship in the western region of Canada, Twyman was one of three to win the award. No Dartmouth students were among the 32 U.S. scholarship winners for 2009. Princeton University topped the list of 2009 U.S. Rhodes Scholars with three recipients of the 32 from America, according to Bloomberg.

" I am so incredibly proud of [Twyman]," Pascall said. "If anyone in the world deserves this, she does. She works so ridiculously hard, and achieves so much, and barely mentions it to anyone. She's never boastful and very, very rarely complains. I think she'll excel at Oxford just as she has at Dartmouth."