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Spring 2003
Volume 39, No. 3
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PCMOnline Editor
Sarah Dolinar

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On the Rhodes Again

Peter Chiarelli ’03 becomes Pomona’s latest recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship.

Peter Chiarelli’s father emigrated from Sicily to make a life in the United States. Now Chiarelli ’03 is traveling to Europe for the first time for his own life-changing experience. Chiarelli is going to Oxford University in England as Pomona College’s latest Rhodes Scholar.

“This is an amazing opportunity,” says Chiarelli, a chemistry major from Arizona who will do graduate work at Oxford in magnetic resonance imaging and plans to make time to visit Sicily. “I will get be a part of, and learn from, an elite group of people. On top of that, I get the opportunity to enrich myself in an academic atmosphere. And I’ll have experiences I wouldn’t have if I were staying in the same country.”

When he returns to the United States, Chiarelli plans to go to medical school. He has already been accepted at both Harvard and Stanford universities.

Chiarelli is no stranger to honors and awards. He already holds a prestigious Goldwater Scholarship to support his thesis research in developing spectroscopic imaging techniques. He was awarded the 2003 Tileston Prize in Physics and he has three major publications in chemistry.

Chiarelli credits Pomona’s Chemistry Department with making the field attractive and providing him with opportunities.

“I’ve had the intellectual freedom, before graduate school, to make a contribution to knowledge, working on things no one has ever done before,” he says.

A key experience was his work at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which he began after his freshman year at the invitation of Visiting Professor Mal Johal. For the past three summers, Chiarelli has continued to work on a team investigating nanophotonics, developing materials that can double the frequency of laser light.

“I love it here at Pomona,” Chiarelli says. “The environment, the education, it’s all pretty incredible. I think I benefited here much more than I would have in any other environment because of the attention I got.”

Chiarelli’s appreciation for Pomona College is mutual. According to his academic advisor, Professor of Chemistry Cynthia Selassie, “Peter is an outstanding student and has been that way from the moment he came into Pomona College. He has that curiosity and that passion for science.”

Selassie was thrilled to hear Chiarelli was selected to be a Rhodes Scholar, but she wasn’t surprised. “He clearly is in a league of his own,” she said.

Chiarelli is the 12th Pomona student to be named a Rhodes Scholar. Past scholars are Martina Vandenberg, 1990; Andrew Richard Embick, 1972; Stephen Schaffran, 1967; Kristoffer Kristofferson, 1958; Edward M. Taylor, 1956; Frank G. Wells, 1953; James L. Steffensen, 1952; Alan Thornton, 1950; Murray D. Kirkwood, 1933; David M. French, 1931; and Earle H. Kennard, 1907.

—Deborah Haar Clark