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Augsburg's first Rhodes Scholar: Brian Krohn

rhodesCommunity Celebration

Celebrate and hear more about Brian’s accomplishments at a community-wide gathering on Thursday, Dec. 4 in the Oren Gateway Center Atrium. Refreshments will be served and a brief program will begin at 2:30 p.m.

Augsburg’s first Rhodes Scholar

Brian Krohn arrived at Augsburg with plans of being a film major. He eventually became a chemistry student. And when he graduates next month, Krohn will have a new title.

Augsburg’s first-ever Rhodes Scholar.

Krohn, a native of Cloquet, was one of 769 initial U.S. applicants from 207 colleges and universities for this year’s collection of Rhodes Scholars. After making it through an interview process Saturday and being selected, Krohn becomes one of just 32 Americans who will begin studying at Oxford University in England next fall. There, Krohn will study environmental change and management in order to combine public policy expertise with the scientific knowledge he has gained at Augsburg.

“I’m surprised,” Krohn said. “The other applicants were some of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.”

That, however, can also be said of Krohn.

In the summer of 2006, Krohn began research into new ways to produce biodiesel. Krohn acknowledges that he didn’t really expect to break any new ground, but he wanted to give it a shot.

There would be no failure here. The combination of Krohn’s research, the teaching of chemistry professor Arlin Gyberg and Augsburg alum Clayton McNeff led to the discovery of the Mcgyan Process to produce biodiesel in a cleaner and more environmentally friendly way.

“For me, Brian’s work on the biodiesel project is a great liberal arts story,” Augsburg President Paul C. Pribbenow said. “There’s a connection between a student with a question, a faculty member and an alum. They work on a problem and come out with a response that, in this case, is pretty ground breaking.

“Brian stands for the well-rounded education that we provide for all of our students. We’re proud of him and proud that his Augsburg education prepared him.”

In addition to his work with biodiesel, Krohn is a Goldwater Scholar who was a founder of the Honors Review, a new journal for student scholarship at Augsburg. He organized the inaugural Agre Challenge, an event in which teams were challenged to build a catapult that would fling a 20-pound sandbag various distances.

In his letter of recommendation for Krohn, Pribbenow wrote that he is “proud of Brian and what he represents for our college. He is resilient, perceptive, spirted, smart and engaged.”

Krohn — who said he ended up writing more than 15 different drafts of his 1,000-word personal statement for the Rhodes application — didn’t really know what to expect when he entered the weekend that would end up changing his life.

After a cocktail hour Friday night in which Krohn and the other finalists got to know each other, he had the critical interview shortly after noon Saturday at Macalester College.

Krohn had spent several weeks preparing for the interview with Dixie Shafer in the URGO office and communication studies professor Bob Groven. When the interview was over, Krohn had no regrets.

“I felt good about it,” he said. “I felt I did as well as I could do.”

By about 3 p.m. Saturday, the five Rhodes judges pulled the candidates together, told them that any of them would make fine Rhodes Scholars and named Krohn and University of Michigan student Abdulrahman El-Sayed would be the Rhodes Scholars from the region that includes Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan.

On Saturday evening Krohn celebrated with his family and the family of his girlfriend. Because El-Sayed wasn’t going to fly back to Michigan until Sunday morning, Krohn invited him along as well.

Two other students at Minnesota schools were also named Rhodes Scholars. Ashley Nord of Rapid City, S.D., will graduate from the University of Minnesota next month with a triple major of physics, astrophysics and global studies. Last week, Jamaican student Michael Wuhl of Macalester was named a Rhodes Scholar in the international part of selection process.

Krohn now has a fat stack of papers to read and fill out for the Rhodes Scholarship. But being selected did save him a little bit of work. If he hadn’t been selected, Krohn was going to apply to graduate school, a task that he no longer has to complete.

He should, however, spend a few days this week working on self-defense moves.

“My older brother has promised to rough me up a little when I come home for Thanksgiving so I don’t get a big head,” Krohn said with a laugh.

For More Information:

The Rhodes Trust Press Release Page

Media Coverage:

KARE-11 News: Evening News Video Segment (Nov. 23, 2008)

Star Tribune: Augsburg student is school’s first Rhodes Scholar (Nov. 23, 2008)

Pioneer Press: Two anticipate degrees in physics, environment as Rhodes Scholars (Nov. 23, 2008)

Duluth News Tribune: Cloquet native wins Rhodes Scholarship (Nov. 24, 2008)

KARE-11 News: Two Minnesota students named Rhodes Scholars (Nov. 24, 2008)

Star Tribune: Augsburg, U of M students named Rhodes Scholars (Nov. 23, 2008)

KSTP-5 News: Two Twin Cities students named Rhodes Scholars (Nov. 23, 2008)

WCCO-TV News: Augsburg, ‘U’ Students Are Rhodes Scholars (Nov. 23, 2008)

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