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U of M student Katie Lee named Rhodes Scholar

Katie N. Lee, an honors senior at the University of Minnesota majoring in biochemistry and chemistry, has been named one of 32 U.S. Rhodes Scholars for 2007. The scholarships, which are the oldest and best known award for international study, cover two to three years of degree courses at Oxford University. A total of 85 scholars were named worldwide.

“I was very honored to receive the Rhodes Scholarship,” said Lee. “I am very excited to begin my graduate studies at the University of Oxford.”

Lee is completing a degree in biochemistry from the College of Biological Sciences and a degree in chemistry from the Institute of Technology. She plans to earn a doctoral degree in biochemistry at Oxford and to pursue a career in academic medicine as a physician scientist.

Just a week ago Lee was offered a Marshall Scholarship to study at Oxford. She will decline the Marshall Scholarship to accept the Rhodes Scholarship.

Lee became a full-time student at the University of Minnesota when she was only 15 and still in high school. An accomplished musician, she has studied violin for 19 years and has been concertmistress for the University of Minnesota Campus Orchestra.

“The world of music taught me dedication, persistence and the importance of thoughtful collaboration,” Lee said. “This has guided me as I perform biomedical research.”

Lee, 21, could have graduated from the university early, but decided to pursue dual degrees in biochemistry and chemistry and gain research experience. She has done research at the university on lupus, an autoimmune disease, and on the metabolism of nicotine, the addictive chemical in tobacco. For the past two summers she has conducted research at Harvard Medical School on the human papillomavirus, a cause of cervical cancer. At Oxford, she plans to perform cancer research.

“In addition to her superb work in both the classroom and the research laboratory, Katie is a delightful person,” said Paul Siliciano, director of undergraduate studies for biochemistry. “She is modest, sincere and volunteers her time to help other students. Although she likes to talk about music, she does not let on that she is concertmistress of the University of Minnesota Student Orchestra and an award winning violin player.”

Lee will graduate in May 2007 and begin her studies at Oxford that fall. She has received numerous scholarships, awards and honors while at the University of Minnesota. They include a two-year Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, for outstanding undergraduates who intend to pursue research-oriented careers in the sciences; and a Maroon and Gold Leadership Award, a four-year academic scholarship.

“We are thrilled for Katie and very proud to have helped her to achieve this honor,” said Robert Elde, dean of the College of Biological Sciences.

Lee was one of 900 Rhodes Scholarship applicants endorsed by 340 colleges and universities in the United States. Criteria for the scholarships, which were established in 1902 by British philanthropist Cecil Rhodes, are high academic achievement, integrity of character, a spirit of unselfishness, respect for others, potential for leadership and physical vigor. The value of the scholarship is approximately $45,000 per year.

Lee, a resident of Bloomington, is the daughter of surgeon Joe Lee and attorney Patricia Lee. She has one brother, Austin, who has signed a letter of intent to play hockey at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He will enroll there in 2007 as an honors science and technology student majoring in engineering.

The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.