2 students from Minnesota named Rhodes Scholars

Published 10:51 am Monday, November 19, 2012

MINNEAPOLIS — One of the two Minnesotans named Sunday as Rhodes Scholars wants to become a doctor dealing with global health issues. The other wants to help develop computer technology to harness the power of a patient’s mind to control artificial limbs.

Georgianna Whiteley, of Wayzata, and Clayton Aldern, of Cedar, were among the 32 American students named Sunday to the newest class of Rhodes Scholars. They both appeared Saturday morning before a selection committee in Chicago and learned that afternoon that they will get to study at Oxford University in England starting next October.

“They told me that my face was so pale they were afraid I was going to pass out,” said Whiteley, 21, a senior at Luther College, in Decorah, Iowa, where she’s majoring in chemistry and minoring in biology.

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Aldern, who turns 22 on Monday, is a senior at Brown University in Providence, R.I., where he’s majoring in neuroscience. His current work at Brown focuses on how the brain processes visual information and how human memory functions.

Whitely said she’s always wanted to be a doctor, but her path toward becoming a Rhodes Scholar started in her sophomore year when she spent her January term in Tanzania, studying the Maasai, one of the indigenous cultures in the east African country. She returned the next summer and spent eight weeks on a project documenting how the Maasai use traditional medicines. Their work at a rural school included distilling essential oils from medicinal plants. The school’s eventual goal is to create a source of income by putting these oils into soaps that they could sell to lodges for travelers, she said.