Scholarly Honors

January 31, 2007
James Yang James Yang James Yang
Scholarship winners: from top; Salmen, Soni, and Walton. top, middle: Jon Gardiner, bottom: Megan Morr[/caption]

Several Duke students and recent graduates have been awarded prestigious scholarships for study in foreign countries. Charles "Chas" Salmen, a senior from Glenwood Springs, Colorado, was among thirty-two recipients of this year's Rhodes Scholarship. Created in 1902 by the will of British philanthropist Cecil Rhodes, the scholarships provide for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford. Recipients are selected on the basis of high academic achievement, personal integrity, leadership potential, and physical vigor, among other attributes.

At Duke, Salmen was captain of the indoor and outdoor track teams and the cross-country team. The English major's senior thesis on Walt Whitman and D.H. Lawrence was named most outstanding and original senior thesis. He has conducted research in the department of urology and co-authored two research papers published in the Journal of Urology.

Salmen plans to pursue a master's of science in medical anthropology at Oxford and eventually to become a physician specializing in international health.

Jimmy Soni of Westmont, Illinois, also a senior, is one of twelve Americans awarded a Mitchell Scholarship for a year of graduate study in Ireland. The George J. Mitchell Scholarships are given annually to a dozen Americans under the age of thirty who exhibit high standards of academic excellence, leadership, and community service.

Soni helped create the Duke Political Union to provide outlets for diverse political views on campus, chaired the Honor Council, co-chaired the undergraduate judicial board, and wrote columns for The Chronicle, for which he received the Newhouse Prize from the Asian American Journalists Association. He now serves as vice president for academic affairs for Duke Student Government.

Soni, a University Scholar, created a self-designed major focusing on ethics. He plans to attend University College Cork for a master's degree in politics.

Senior Felicia Walton has won a Marshall Scholarship for two years of graduate study. Established in 1953 to commemorate the Marshall Plan, the scholarships are awarded each year to forty or more "talented, independent, and wide-ranging" young Americans to finance their study in the United Kingdom.

Walton, a double-major in biology and chemistry from Asheville, North Carolina, arrived at Duke with no laboratory-research experience. She joined the laboratory of Joseph Heitman, director of the Duke Center for Microbial Pathogenesis, and discovered a number of new genes as she studied a fungus that causes dangerous infections in humans whose immune systems have been compromised. Walton plans to attend the University of Cambridge for her master's degree. (See "Student Snapshot" on page 19 for more about Walton's activities.)

In addition, fifteen recent graduates and graduate students received Fulbright scholarships—which fund a year of study, research, or teaching in a foreign country and are intended to foster mutual understanding between Americans and people from other countries.