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The 2022 WA Rhodes Scholar Jesse Schelfout with former Rhodes Scholar and Governor of WA, the Honourable Kim Beazley.

Atomic scholarship win for Perth Hills academic

By Melissa Sheil

A FORMER Midland alumni and Stoneville resident has been selected for one of the most prestigious and oldest scholarships available in the world.

UWA physics student Jesse Schelfout, 22, was announced as the 2022 WA recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship, a program that offers selected students two years paid tuition at Oxford University as well as an annual stipend covering accommodation and living expenses.

Mr Schelfout will conclude his master’s degree this year and looks forward to starting his next academic chapter in the UK late 2022, with plans to work on cutting-edge experiments as part of a Doctorate of Philosophy in Atomic and Laser Physics.

“It is not set in stone yet, but I am looking at working on the Atom Interferometer Observatory and Network (AION) project, a very interesting project that combines my interests in atomic physics, astrophysics, and particle physics in order to test fundamental physics, observe gravitational waves, and constrain the search for dark matter candidates,” he said.

“More generally, I hope my research will be able to contribute to the burgeoning field of quantum technologies that promises to be an $86 billion industry globally by 2040, that has applications in mining, defence, biomedicine, and cybersecurity.”

Mr Schelfout said he was shocked and honoured to have been selected for the scholarship that is considered among the most esteemed in the world.

“I was stunned – in a bit of disbelief – when they announced me as the successful candidate, to the point where the selection committee thought that I hadn’t heard them,” he said.

“The significance of the award is beginning to sink in, and I feel a renewed duty to enact positive change around me.”

Mr Schelfout said he looks forward to networking with fellow Rhodes Scholars from around the world, researching with acclaimed academics, and enjoying everything the UK has to offer.

He will be in good company, with former local recipients of the scholarship including WA Governor Kim Beazley, former Prime Minister Bob Hawke and former WA premier Geoff Gallop.

La Salle College, where Mr Schelfout graduated from in 2016, congratulated their former student.

“Well done to Jesse – what an achievement,” they said.

“Your former teachers and our college community are incredibly proud and wish you all the best for the future.”

Alongside academics, Mr Schelfout is an accomplished euphonium player and state open medallist in javelin, who intends to vie for a place in the 2028 Australian Olympic team.

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Echo News gives readers an alternative to other media outlets in WA and enjoys a very high rate of readership in its distribution area. Our Echo News team are a small group of devoted individuals who work hard to give the local community an easy to read, yet intelligent mix of local community stories.

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