Two MIT students named 2021 Rhodes Scholars

Julia Mongo | Office of Distinguished Fellowships
Published by MIT News on November 21, 2020

Ghadah Alshalan and Danielle Grey-Stewart have been selected for the 2021 cohort of the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship program. They will begin fully funded postgraduate studies at Oxford University in the U.K. next fall. Each year, Rhodes awards 32 scholarships to U.S. citizens in addition to scholarships reserved for non-U.S. citizens. 

Grey-Stewart will join the 2021 American Rhodes Scholar class. Ghadah Alshalan was awarded the Rhodes Scholarship for Saudi Arabia.

The students were supported by MIT’s Distinguished Fellowships team in Career Advising and Professional Development. They were also mentored by the Presidential Committee on Distinguished Fellowships. “We could not be more proud of our candidates,” says Professor Tamar Schapiro, who co-chairs the committee along with Professor Will Broadhead. “This year in particular, we are so impressed not only with their accomplishments but also with their resilience. Being interviewed for a Rhodes scholarship is intimidating enough as it is. Doing so remotely is even more challenging. We are thrilled that the spark we see in our students came through, even over Zoom.”

Ghadah Alshalan

Senior Ghadah Alshalan, from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is a recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship for Saudi Arabia. Alshalan will graduate next June with a bachelor of science in physics and a minor in computer science. As a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, she will pursue a master’s research program in condensed matter physics.

Physics captivated Alshalan in high school when she participated in national and international physics competitions and became Saudi Arabia’s first female medalist. At MIT, Alshalan has conducted research with Professor Marin Soljačić at the Research Laboratory of Electronics, and Professor Vladan Vuletić at the MIT-Harvard Center for Ultracold Atoms. She is currently developing computational models relevant to quantum nanoelectronics with Professor Pablo Jarillo-Herrero in the Department of Physics. She also did a summer research internship at the University of Hamburg Center for Quantum Technologies in Germany.

Alshalan was president of the MIT Arab Student Organization and has served on committees for the MIT Arab Conference and the MIT Muslim Student Association. She also has been a teaching assistant for the physics department.

The Rhodes Scholarship for Saudi citizens was established in 2018. Up to three scholarships are awarded each year.

Danielle Grey-Stewart

Hailing from Long Island, New York, Danielle Grey-Stewart is a senior majoring in materials science and engineering. As a Rhodes Scholar, she will pursue an MPhil in nature, society, and environmental governance at Oxford University’s School of Geography and the Environment. Grey-Stewart wants to become a leader in science policy with the goal of opening new avenues for fellow scientists of color.

Grey-Stewart is conducting research in the laboratory of Professor Julia Ortony in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering (DSME), focusing on functionalized nanothread synthesis. She has also synthesized photoinitiating nanoparticles in the laboratory of Professor Moungi Bawendi in the Department of Chemistry and worked on biodegradable architectural materials in Professor Neri Oxman’s Mediated Matter group at the MIT Media Lab. Grey-Stewart is the recipient of two National Science Foundation – Research Experience for Undergraduates grants. She was awarded the Horace A. Lubin Award for Outstanding Service to the DMSE Community.

Grey-Stewart chairs the MIT Undergraduate Association Committee on Covid-19. She has written articles on COVID-19’s impact on sustainability for the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative Rapid Response Group. She is a member of the Student Advisory Group for Engineering, and the MIT School of Engineering’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. Grey-Stewart has taught STEM classes to students in France through MIT Global Teaching Labs. She is an outreach assistant with the Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center and was selected to travel to Navajo Nation to support lasting connections between MIT and Navajo community partners. ​

By Julia Mongo
Julia Mongo Staff Writer and Advisor