NMH alumna named Rhodes scholar for China

  • Northfield Mount Hermon Head of School Brian Hargrove poses for a photo with Julia Zhao, an NMH alumna who has been named a 2023 Rhodes scholar for China. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/MATTHEW CAVANAUGH

Staff Report
Published: 3/14/2023 3:01:18 PM

GILL — Julia Zhao, a Northfield Mount Hermon School alumna and senior at Columbia University, has been named a 2023 Rhodes scholar for China.

Only 120 scholars are chosen each year to receive a Rhodes scholarship, a fully funded, full-time, postgraduate award that enables talented young people from around the world to study at the University of Oxford. Zhao is one of four Rhodes scholars selected from China this year.

A 2019 graduate of NMH, Zhao is a biomedical engineering major, with a minor in computer science, at Columbia. According to NMH, she works in a research lab at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where she also volunteers in the clinic. At Oxford, she’ll pursue two degrees: a master’s in statistics and a second master’s in medical humanities or translational health sciences. She plans to focus on the use of artificial intelligence in clinical settings as a means of increasing access to health care in low- and middle-income communities.

“Julia’s goal to use scientific study and advocacy to contribute in a meaningful way to improve the lives of others, especially those who lack access to adequate medical and health care, exemplifies the mission and values of Northfield Mount Hermon,” NMH Head of School Brian Hargrove said in a statement.

After Oxford, Zhao intends to return to the U.S. to pursue a doctorate in biomedical engineering, then become a physician scientist, studying clinical data and using machine learning to develop innovations in therapeutics, drugs or diagnostic platforms, such as using artificial intelligence to detect diseases or using a patient’s sequenced genome to find risk factors for diseases.

“I am also interested in outreach work, such as working with Doctors Without Borders or studying diseases that impact people in less-developed areas of the world,” Zhao said in a statement.

Zhao said her commitment to service can be traced back to NMH.

“I really benefited from that sense of duty to do good in the world instilled in me at NMH,” she said in a statement. “That is something they look for in selecting Rhodes scholars. They not only want people who excel in their fields but also people who can change the world for the better.”


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