Undergraduate student Omar Alshangiti awarded Rhodes Scholarship


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Omar Alshangiti is a senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, double majoring in Materials Science & Engineering and Chemistry. His passion for science evolved in high school when he took part in the International Chemistry Olympiad(IChO), winning the first silver medal for Saudi Arabia. At Illinois, he worked as a research assistant at the Beckman Institute in the Moore and Sottos labs, where he worked on the rapid synthesis of elastomers and thermosets via frontal polymerization. He also interned at ARAMCO Research centers at Boston, where he worked on developing polymeric surfactants for enhanced oil recovery. When he is not in the lab, Omar enjoys hiking and camping in the wilderness, reading Arabic literature, or volunteering as a mathematics and science tutor. At Oxford, he hopes to pursue his passions in studying soft materials, and to continue exploring the hidden gems of materials science and chemistry.

"I feel really grateful and humbled for receiving this opportunity, and I’m really honored to represent both Saudi Arabia and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at this prestigious scholarship," said Alshangiti. "I hope this chance will help me contribute more effectively to the scientific fields I’m most interested in, and to make a positive impact to my close communities and beyond. I also feel grateful for the preparation and experience I got at the U of I. The professors I met, the friends I made, and the RSOs I joined, they all shaped who I am and are all part of this accomplishment."

The Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest (first awarded in 1902) and perhaps most prestigious international scholarship programme, enabling outstanding young people from around the world to study at the University of Oxford.

The fellowship of Rhodes Scholars, worldwide and across generations, is active and over 7,000 strong. Rhodes Scholars therefore enter a life-long fellowship with ongoing opportunities to connect with current and Senior Scholars and, beyond that, a warm and engaging community within Scholars typically develop enduring friendships. The Rhodes Scholarship opens up opportunities for Scholars before, after and during their time in Oxford.

“The MatSE Department is proud of Omar’s accomplishments, and I am fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him personally," said department head Nancy Sottos. "Omar took the initiative to get involved in an interdisciplinary research project involving rapid synthesis of elastomer and thermosetting polymers with tunable mechanical properties – his important contributions to characterize these materials are featured in a recent publication in which he is co-author.”

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This story was published November 24, 2020.