Young BSOS alumnus Nipun Kottage was one of two Terps named finalists for this year’s Rhodes Scholarships, the world’s most prestigious award for international study. Kottage received Bachelor of Science degrees in both anthropology and biochemistry in 2019. UMD Senior Maïgane Diop, majoring in biological sciences and minoring in philosophy, was also a finalist.
Kottage and Diop were among 236 Americans selected for Rhodes finalist interviews held this past weekend in cities around the country. Only 32 were selected to represent the United States as 2020 Rhodes Scholars.
“While those awarded Rhodes Scholarships tend to go on to great things, so too do all of the extraordinary men and women who are called to these hyper-competitive interviews. To be among this stellar group of finalists is a testament to the caliber of Nipun and Maïgane’s character, prior accomplishments and future potential,” said Richard Bell, a UMD associate professor of history who serves as UMD’s advisor for United Kingdom scholarships and fellowships. He also chairs the university’s U.K. awards nomination committee.
Kottage was a member of the Integrated Life Sciences program in the Honors College, a recipient of the four-year President’s Scholarship, and a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honor society. Since graduating, he has worked with UMD African American Studies Professor Joseph Richardson to explore how violently injured black men experience and communicate trauma. Currently, he is conducting a research project to analyze the geospatial distribution of gun violence in Washington, D.C. to better coordinate hospital and community-based violence prevention services.
As an undergraduate, Kottage examined the mechanisms of photochemical reactions with Professor Daniel Falvey in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. As a senior at UMD, he served as president of UMD’s chapter of Engineers Without Borders, directing community-based engineering projects in Ghana, Nicaragua, Peru, Sierra Leone, Nepal, Puerto Rico and Maryland with an annual budget of $120,000. Kottage’s work in Ghana, which involved leading the assessment, design, and implementation of a $30,000 well and water distribution project, formed the basis for his honors thesis in anthropology. Mentored by Anthropology Associate Professor Thurka Sangaramoorthy, he presented his thesis research at the 2018 Engineers Without Borders National Conference in San Francisco. Locally, Kottage initiated an Engineers Without Borders partnership with Lewisdale Elementary School in Prince George’s County to implement a stormwater management solution and to expose students to engineering careers.
While at UMD, Kottage devoted considerable time to educating others, serving as a teaching assistant for mammalian physiology and organic chemistry courses. In addition, he volunteered with programs providing hands-on STEM lessons and demonstrations for elementary and middle school students.
“I am incredibly thankful for my mentors, community partners, friends, and family who continue to help me achieve my vision of forging equitable institutions through community-engaged research,” Kottage said.
His long-term plans include obtaining an M.D./Ph.D. in medical anthropology and supporting the health needs of vulnerable populations through advocacy, service and leadership.
UMD has had two Rhodes Scholars in the 115-year history of the program: Fang Cao (B.S. ’15, biological sciences) and the Hon. Charles Thomas “Tom” McMillen (B.S. ’74, chemistry).
Article by the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. Originally published November 26, 2019.