Nina Acharya ’19 awarded Rhodes Scholarship

Nina Acharya ’19 has been selected for a Rhodes Scholarship in the Canadian competition.

She will attend the University of Oxford next fall to study children’s nutrition interventions in vulnerable communities. She plans to earn her M.Phil. in development studies at Oxford.

Nina Acharya

Acharya is a native of Ottawa and is one of 11 newly elected Rhodes Scholars in Canada, eight of whom are women. She is a first-year medical student at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

She was a Merrill Presidential Scholar at Cornell, where she majored in human biology, health and society in the College of Human Ecology. She minored in French in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Acharya said she expects to return to medical school after two years at Oxford. She is interested in becoming a pediatrician and contributing to children’s health through global health policy.

She wrote her Cornell honors thesis on the effectiveness of vitamin D recommendations for infants living in northern Canada.

“There is a vitamin D guideline for children above a certain latitude, acknowledging the need for more vitamin D traditionally among these populations,” Acharya said. “I was looking at whether that recommendation worked in changing behaviors. At Oxford, I’ll be looking at how modern health policy can be informed, taking people’s culture, history and local context into consideration.”

In addition to her academic achievements, Acharya co-founded the Canadian Science Fair Journal, an online journal that mentors elementary, middle and high school students and introduces them to scientific writing and publishing. She was a member of the Sitara Bollywood Fusion Dance Team at Cornell for four years, and served as performance director and co-president. She also is involved in programs for people with disabilities through Best Buddies International and the Dance Ability Movement.

Rhodes scholars are selected for their outstanding academic achievements as well as for their character, commitment to others and potential for leadership. The scholarship award provides full financial support to pursue a degree or degrees at the University of Oxford.

In Canada, the competitive selection process is administered by six regional committees, which work independently and make their decisions based on applications, university endorsements, letters of reference and in-person interviews.

A total of 100 recipients from more than 60 countries were chosen for the 2020 class of scholars-elect.

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Gillian Smith