Campus celebrates achievement of two astounding women who will vie for the oldest international fellowship, the Rhodes Scholarship
(Oct. 21, 2004) GENEVA, N.Y.– While the fate of Hobart and William Smith Colleges' Rhodes Scholar nominees won't be known until November, the celebration on campus already has begun–with good reason. For the first time in the history of the small, liberal arts institution, two HWS community members have been nominated concurrently for the prestigious fellowship.
The women nominated are Rebecca Splain, a 2004 William Smith graduate from Middlebury, Vt., who was mentored by Professor Carol Parish, and senior Caterina Caiazza of Rochester, N.Y., who was mentored by Professor Christine de Denus.
The Rhodes Committee selects only 32 Americans for this prestigious fellowship each year. The two HWS nominees are competing for the honor against approximately 1,000 other applicants.
“These women are extraordinarily talented students who possess the intellectual curiosity, determination, work ethic and creativity necessary to excel at Oxford University. They are clearly the scientific leaders of tomorrow, as evidenced by their research accomplishments, their academic and athletic achievements and their community service to the Colleges,” says Parish. “Professor de Denus and I believe they have the necessary intellectual distinction as well as the qualities of the mind and person that are required of Rhodes Scholars.”
At HWS, Splain was a double major in English and chemistry, with a concentration in biochemistry. She did undergraduate research with Parish, investigating the conformational flexibility of important anti-cancer drugs, and graduated with high honors. A 2003 American Chemical Society Undergraduate Research Fellow, she has presented her work at two national scientific meetings, and recently submitted a manuscript for publication.
In addition, Splain was an integral part of the William Smith lacrosse team, playing in goal. She is the William Smith record holder for most wins, with a career record of 53-8. An Intercollegiate Women's Lacrosse Coaches Association Scholar Athlete, she was named the association's Division III Goalkeeper of the Year in 2004.
Splain was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa, Sigma Xi, Hai Timiai and Phi Lambda Upsilon honor societies, and made the dean's list each year of her undergraduate career. The recipient of the First-Year Prize in Chemistry in 2000, she also won the Ralph Hadley Bullard, Marion Harrison Green '20, Cynthia Oyler '93, Betsy Bullock Mitchell '65 and Joseph N. Abraham Memorial awards while at the Colleges.
Splain recently joined GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), one of the world's leading research-based pharmaceutical companies. Her research will lead to a richer understanding of the pharmaceutical processes at GSK and shorten the time it takes to bring drugs to patients. She plans to pursue the Ph.D. in chemistry. She is the daughter of James and Mary Lou Splain of Middlebury, Vt.
Caiazza most recently was honored as a 2004 Barry M. Goldwater Scholar for her academic achievement in chemistry. This year, the chemistry major is pursuing an Honors project with de Denus studying the synthesis of inorganic molecular wire candidates. These materials are currently generating a great deal of interest as there is speculation that they will be the materials of choice to replace today's current silicon chip technology in molecular electronics.
At HWS, Caiazza is a member of Hai Timiai, the Koshare dance organization and the senior gift committee. She also serves on the Day of Service planning committee and worked as an orientation leader for the past two years. Caiazza has organized the Rochester section of HWS Alumni Adopt-A-Highway-Program for two years. In May, she was awarded the William Smith Alumnae Council's Ring Award, given to an outstanding junior who has contributed remarkable service to the Colleges and is most likely to serve her alma mater after graduation.
This past summer, Caiazza interned at General Motors, where she researched hydrogen fuel cells and was awarded the Most Outstanding Summer Intern Presentation. In 2003, Caiazza worked as an intern for NASA's Johnson Space Center through The Lunar and Planetary Science Institute (LPSI). She has presented work before the Institute and the Geological Society of America. For the past two years, she has been the recipient of the Richard Abbe '92 and Michael Gantcher '92 Scholarship. She has also made the Dean's list each year and has been the recipient of the Carl Aten Physical Chemistry Prize and the Phi Beta Kappa Award for the first-year student with the highest GPA. She intends to pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry.
Last year, the Colleges celebrated Julia James '04, first William Smith woman to earn a Rhodes Scholarship. James currently is continuing her studies at Oxford University in England, pursuing a doctorate in HIV immunology.
HWS claims two prior Rhodes Scholars: Emerson Spies, Hobart Class of 1936, who went on to become dean of the University of Virginia Law School, and Ralph C. Willard, Hobart Class of 1904.
American Rhodes Scholars are selected through a decentralized process by which regional selection committees choose 32 scholars each year from among those nominated by committees in each of the 50 states.