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Senior Emory Ahmed Aljohani Receives Prestigious Rhodes Scholarship | Emory University

By on November 21, 2021 0

Ahmed Aljohani, senior at Emory University, received the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship 2022, which covers all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England.

Aljohani, a biology graduate from Emory College of Arts and Sciences and originally from Saudi Arabia, is part of an international group of Rhodes Scholars who join more than 100 scholars selected to begin their studies next fall. He is Emory 21st recipient of the award and the first from the selected university in Saudi Arabia.

“I never imagined such an honor. I don’t think I would have been accepted to Rhodes without being so well balanced, ”says Aljohani. “I owe it to Emory, for being a place to explore and develop skills as a whole person. It is essential in this world.

Aljohani exemplifies the traits of a Rhodes Scholar – chosen for his academic excellence as well as his commitment to positively impacting the world – both through his leadership on campus and his deep ecology research with postdoctoral fellow Kandis Adams in the laboratory of biologist Emory Jaap de Roode.

At Oxford he will pursue a doctorate in biology. He then plans to pursue a second doctorate at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), focusing on identifying how the northern Red Sea coral reefs near his home are resisting climate change. . Understanding how these reefs are not stressed by rising sea temperatures could further protect them and save coral reefs around the world.

“With his superb academic accomplishments and community involvement, Ahmed epitomizes excellence in all he has accomplished here at Emory,” said Emory President Gregory L. Fenves.

“Being named a Rhodes Scholar, Ahmed has shown what is possible through the power of exceptional undergraduate training, and I know he will represent Emory at the highest level as he continues his education at the University of London. ‘Oxford.

“I join with the entire Emory community in expressing our great pride and enthusiasm for what their future holds,” Fenves said.

Research and communication

At Emory, Aljohani has focused much of his energy on becoming a better scientist, both through teaching and research that includes co-authoring a 2021 article on the effect of plant chemicals on immunity in monarch butterflies.

He is now working on his honors thesis, examining whether circadian rhythms affect the risk of butterfly disease. Research requires a commitment to take measurements around the clock and the ability to build a framework for examining the organism internally and in interaction with its environment, explains de Roode.

“What I find interesting about Ahmed is that he’s interested in marine biology and climate change, while also researching monarch immunity,” de Roode said. “This shows that he understands that building research skills and the ability to formulate questions and hypotheses is more important than focusing on a particular study system. He’s clearly given a lot of thought to science and how it can answer important questions as a whole. “

Part of that interest in the big picture led Aljohani to the digital cinema class of assistant film professor David Barba. Aljohani had learned a few stop-motion animations on his own, but was curious how he could turn his ideas on saving reefs into videos that could influence public opinion and politics.

He stood out for his work ethic and curiosity, two essential elements in developing a creative voice, says Barba. Then he applied those production skills in a more advanced course on writing short films, again pondering how best to share his future research.

“His qualifications as a scientist are very clear and I love that he sees science as something that impacts people on a daily basis,” said Barba. “I think he’ll be a great documentary creator and collaborator down the road.”

Collaboration and community

Collaboration, both in finding and providing support, has been the key to success at Emory, says Aljohani. He suspected at first that he would find this in Emory when he visited her, alone, on a Wonderful Wednesday.

Students who noticed his visitor badge immediately asked him if he had any questions. They gave him a tour of campus, including a tour of a first-year residence.

Still, he was overwhelmed when he first arrived as a freshman after a crash course in English. The Academic Fellow program, which provides incoming international students with student mentors, made him feel so comfortable that he joined as a mentor.

He is now captain of the program, which has exposed him to students around the world who, like him, have been struck by the diversity on campus and in the metro Atlanta area.

The Muslim Student Association, which he now co-directs, had an equally large membership that went beyond the Arab community he knew best.

“The way Emory encourages you to explore your interests is what makes it such a welcoming place,” says Aljohani. “Being around people who have a different perspective on life is very informative and very beneficial for your progress. I believe if you focus on using this to be the best at whatever you do, opportunities will open up for you.