Rhodes Show: Kathryn Twyman '09 Wins Scholarship to Study at Oxford

Dartmouth Life


Megan Steven '02 spoke with Twyman for Dartmouth Life. Steven is a Rhodes scholar herself and received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Oxford in 2005. She is assistant dean of the faculty for administration at Dartmouth and a visiting assistant professor, teaching courses in psychological and brain sciences and the writing program.

STEVEN: The Rhodes application process can be really intense. How did you find it?

TWYMAN: I never experienced anything quite like it. The interview committee asked completely off-the-wall questions. I was asked to explain everything from quantum mechanics to my opinion on women's rights in the Middle East.

It was interesting to meet the other competitors for the scholarship. They were fascinating people. During the interviews, we were in the same hotel. It was actually a lot of fun because you're all in the same situation. We were all nervous, so we shared our nerves with each other.

STEVEN: What will you study at Oxford?

TWYMAN: I'll be studying for the Ph.D. in physical chemistry. I'm really excited to work under Professor Tim Softley, who studies chemical reactions that occur in ultra-cold conditions. His research is fascinating. Specifically, I'll be looking at ultracold reactions of carbonyl species and Rydberg molecules.


STEVEN: In addition to academic excellence, the Rhodes selection process emphasizes leadership qualities demonstrated through "physical vigor" or participation in sports.  How have sports contributed to your education?

TWYMAN: You can learn a lot from sports through a team: self-discipline, time management, and the ability to lead. Hard work is something that has carried over from sports into all aspects of my life.

STEVEN: How have you balanced your academic goals with your athletic ones at Dartmouth?

TWYMAN: It is a tough thing to balance. But for me, personally, it's very much a part of who I am. I love academics, but I find it great to get out on the water to clear my mind. I find it reenergizing. And it keeps me going in the rest of my life, in other pursuits.

STEVEN: Are there any challenges you expect to face at Oxford?

TWYMAN: The Ph.D. program is only three years in the United Kingdom-compared to five years in North America. In the UK, students specialize sooner at the undergraduate level. But with the courses I've taken at Dartmouth I'll be well prepared.  I'm just so excited to go and soak it all up.