UC Berkeley senior selected as a 2020 Rhodes Scholar

Namrata Ramesh/Courtesy

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UC Berkeley senior Namrata Ramesh was selected as a 2020 Rhodes Scholar in November 2019.

As an international student from India studying physics, Ramesh is UC Berkeley’s first Rhodes Scholar in five years, according to a campus scholarship connection press release. Ramesh is also one of five scholarship recipients from India.

“It was truly a surreal experience,” Ramesh said in an email. “I am determined to make the most of this incredible opportunity — through my science and my activism.”

Each year, 32 students from the United States are selected as Rhodes Scholars. Elliot F. Gerson, American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust, announced in a press release that for the third consecutive year, the overall recipients are “majority-minority” and about half are first-generation Americans.

The scholarship provides scholars with expenses for two or three years to attend the University of Oxford. This year’s Rhodes Scholars will attend the University of Oxford beginning in September to continue their studies, according to the press release.

“This year’s American Rhodes Scholars … once again reflect the extraordinary diversity that characterizes and strengthens the United States,” Gerson said in the press release. “(Rhodes Scholars) are leaders already, and we expect their impact to expand exponentially over the course of their public-spirited careers.”

Ramesh will graduate with honors with a bachelor of arts in physics and is currently completing her senior thesis on understanding the dynamics of self-assembly of gold nanocrystal superlattices at UC Berkeley. According to the campus scholarship connection press release, Ramesh hopes to continue her investigation of the origins of photovoltaic materials through experimental and computational physics.

Along with her studies, Ramesh started The STEMinist Chronicles, a student organization at UC Berkeley that utilizes photo essays to share and highlight the stories of women in STEM, according to its website. Ramesh has also been involved in undergraduate research at UC Berkeley, saying that it “prepared” her for what’s to come at the University of Oxford, according to the campus scholarship connection press release.

“Berkeley has prepared me for a research degree at Oxford through my two years with the Ginsberg Group,” Ramesh said in the campus scholarship press release. “I feel fortunate to have had an immersive research experience, and to work with incredibly talented scientists and mentors.”

Ramesh almost didn’t apply for the scholarship because she felt like she didn’t fit into the model of a “perfect Rhodes applicant,” according to the campus scholarship connection press release. Her family and friends encouraged her to apply anyway.

Ramesh hopes to inspire minorities in STEM to work hard and believe in themselves.

“I am determined to show, throughout my career, that one’s race or gender need not be a barrier to becoming a physicist,” Ramesh said in the campus scholarship connection press release. “(The) only requirement to be a scientist is a deep love for science.”

Contact Marc Escobar at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @mescobar_dc.