SACKVILLE, N.B. - Katherine Reiss has been named Mount Allison University’s 55th Rhodes Scholar. From Vancouver, BC, Reiss is a fourth-year honours chemistry student with minors in biochemistry and computer science. Only 11 students from across Canada are selected to receive the award each year.
“The news still feels a bit surreal. I received the call from the Rhodes committee on Saturday following my interview for the scholarship,” says Reiss. “It was an intense process but also an enriching one. There’s a lot of self-reflection, thinking about how much I’ve grown and changed since arriving at Mount A and how grateful I am for the experiences and people that have shaped me along the way. I found it humbling to pause and reflect on this.”
Valued at more than $100,000, the Rhodes Scholarship is one of the oldest and most prestigious in the world, covering the cost of postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford in the U.K. With 55 scholars to date, Mount Allison has one of the best records, per capita, in Canada for the esteemed award.
“On behalf of the entire community, I am thrilled to congratulate Katherine on this remarkable achievement in being named Mount Allison’s 55th Rhodes Scholar,” says university president and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Jean-Paul Boudreau. “Her academic and research endeavours as well as her volunteer work in the community are commendable and we know she will make the most of this incredible opportunity.”
Reiss is working towards her honours degree in chemistry, conducting research with Dr. Vicki Meli since the end of her second year. Her research focuses on the properties of gold nanoparticles.
Reiss plans to continue her studies in chemistry at the University of Oxford in one of their graduate programs.
“I’d like to earn my PhD and someday be a professor — I'm drawn to the idea of a career that combines teaching and research,” she says. “Being on a university campus, you feel part of an engaged community, people want to learn and enact change. It’s exciting to be a part of this.”
A recipient of Mount Allison’s Bell Scholarship, one of the University’s most prestigious entrance awards, Reiss also works as a teacher’s assistant in calculus and helps run the University’s Math Help Centre.
“I want to help build people’s confidence in math. A lot of people dismiss their ability and assume math is something they can’t meaningfully pursue. It’s something I lacked confidence in myself, but I was fortunate to have some great mentors in this area,” says Reiss. “I hope I can pay this forward.”
Outside her academic commitments, Reiss serves as President of the Rotaract Club at Mount Allison, a branch of the Rotary Club. She helped initiate the organization’s after-school program at Dorchester School, which runs once a week, and volunteers with Marshview Middle School’s breakfast program.
Reiss is also past president of the Mount Allison Fencing Club and president of the University’s Unicycle Society.
Reiss says she came to Mount Allison through a leap of faith, as she had never visited the Maritimes before coming to campus — a sense of adventure she will be taking to the U.K. next year.
“I wanted to attend a small school and was interested in research. A friend suggested Mount Allison — I'm glad I took their advice.” she says. “The community of Mount Allison and Sackville has been incredibly kind and supportive; it soon began to feel like home.”