Ege Kaan Duman, Class of 2022, named DKU‘s first Rhodes Scholar

By DKU Staff

Duke Kunshan University senior Ege Kaan Duman, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in global health (biology track), has become the first DKU student to receive a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

Rhodes Scholarships are the world’s oldest international fellowship awards. Each year, the Rhodes Trust elects about 100 talented students from around the world for the scholarships, which cover the expense of up to three years of postgraduate study at the University of Oxford.

Students are chosen for their intellect, character, and commitment to service, among other qualities. Past recipients include former United States president Bill Clinton, and Nobel laureates Michael Spence, Howard Florey and John Eccles.

“It is such a huge honor and such a unique opportunity,” said Duman, who in addition to being DKU’s first Rhodes Scholar is also the first from Turkey elected through the global constituency. “I essentially got to show that it is possible to achieve something big no matter what. At the same time, it is as huge a responsibility. People put their trust in you to go there and change the world.”

Ege Kaan Duman intends to study medical anthropology at the University of Oxford

Duman, one of only three students elected through the global constituency this year, said he plans to study for a master of philosophy degree in medical anthropology, with his research interests including medical ethics and comparative medical narratives. He said he aspires to fight for health and health care around the world.

“I want to run projects in low-resource settings,” he said. “I am planning to become a physician-scientist, though I will let Rhodes show me what would be ideal for me. It is also a chance to discover the future — I do not want to go in there with a concrete plan. Only my goal to help the world is concrete.”

Duman is a member of the pioneering Class of 2022, DKU’s inaugural undergraduate class, which is set to graduate next summer. Over almost four years at DKU, he has been involved in cutting-edge research projects and extracurricular activities across a range of disciplines.

He has worked extensively with professors Lijing L. Yan and Benjamin Anderson in the DKU Global Health Research Center (GHRC), and as a research assistant in the Duke Global Health Institute. He is also an active researcher in the Health Humanities Lab, a founding member of the Youth Leaders in Global Health Club, and leads the interviewer team for MediHealth, a DKU student-led podcast.

“With his strong vision, meticulous conduct, devotion to learning, and a thoughtful and disciplined nature, Ege has been a crucial part of my research team,” said Yan, who leads research in non-communicable diseases in the GHRC. She has worked with Duman on projects ranging from e-health technology applications to the impact of Covid-19 on diabetes patients. “Ege is an extremely responsible individual who deeply cares for his team and his research. He carries an ineffable hunger for knowledge,” she said.

Duman ’22 has collaborated with multiple DKU professors to publish peer-reviewed research

Duman has also co-authored academic papers with philosophy professors Daniel Lim and Kyle Fruh, published respectively in the American Journal of Bioethics: Neuroscience, and Medicine Health Care and Philosophy, and is the co-lead author of a scientific manuscript now under peer review.

In 2020, he secured a place in the Amgen Scholars program at Tsinghua University’s School of Pharmaceutical Sciences. Hosted by 24 institutions across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, the two-month summer program recruits promising students to work full-time with leading research scientists and take part in seminars, networking events and a symposium. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, organizers postponed the 2020 program until the following summer and moved activities online.

“Ege was a model collaborator: responsive, charitable, willing to take responsibility, and creative,” said Fruh, assistant professor of philosophy and Duman’s Signature Work advisor. “For an undergraduate to publish in a professional journal is a remarkable achievement. It speaks to not only his analytic acumen but also his determination and willingness to take risks in service of striving toward ambitious goals.

“To me,” he added, “what most stands out about Ege is this quite uncommon combination of intellectual ambition and collaborative spirit.”

Duman said his experiences at DKU had provided him with a multicultural perspective that had further developed his worldview. “I can now approach an issue from considerably different points of view,” he said.

Marcia France, dean of undergraduate studies, said, “I am just so proud of Ege and his accomplishments at DKU. His numerous research experiences and publications, leadership of the winning team in the Emory Morningside Global Health Case Competition, community service, and contributions to building DKU are a testament not only to his talent and energy but also to the kinds of opportunities DKU has been able to provide and the support he has received from countless faculty and staff throughout his DKU journey. I look forward to seeing what great things he will achieve at Oxford and beyond.”

Scott MacEachern, vice chancellor for academic affairs, said, “We’re so proud to see Ege become such a great representative of our inaugural undergraduate class, which he has achieved through his own talents and hard work, and with the unstinting support of our extraordinary faculty and staff. We hope that his accomplishment can inspire many more students to strive for similar achievements and to make positive contributions to society.”

In addition to Duman’s award, fellow Class of 2022 students Jiasheng “Ray” Zhu and Lingli Tang were also semi-finalists in the Rhodes Trust’s China constituency.

DKU Chancellor Youmei Feng offered her sincere congratulations to Duman. She said, “The Rhodes Scholarships seek to support students with outstanding intellect, character, and ambition, which is in line DKU’s innovative liberal arts education that seeks to promote student growth and success. Ege’s chosen field of study demonstrates his deep commitment to improving global health and health care, which continues to drive his accomplishments. I believe that there are, and will be, many more DKU students with the heart to serve society with knowledge and to create a shared future of prosperity for humanity.”

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