A postgraduate physics student at The University of Western Australia has been named Western Australia’s Rhodes Scholar for 2022, recognising his potential as young global ambassador.
Jesse Samuel Schelfhout, 22, who has a Bachelor of Philosophy with First Class Honours in Physics and is currently completing a Master of Physics (Experimental), is UWA’s 106th Rhodes Scholar in 108 years.
Mr Schelfhout plans to undertake a DPhil in Atomic and Laser Physics at the University of Oxford, where he intends to work on cutting-edge experiments to broaden understanding of fundamental physics.
“The experiment I’m looking at working on is around atom interferometry, a maturing quantum technology that holds promise for next-generation gravitational wave detectors amongst other things,” he said.
“The quantum technology industry is projected to be $4 billion in Australia by 2040 and impacts in areas such as defence and cyber security, mining, healthcare and the biomedical industry.”
A resident of St Catherine’s College, Mr Schelfhout is also an accomplished euphonium player and state open medallist in javelin, who intends to vie for a place in the 2028 Australian Olympic team.
The Honourable Kim Beazley AC, Governor of Western Australia, who presented Mr Schelfhout with the award, said he exemplified the values of a Rhodes Scholar and was “in for a great few years”.
“I was glad not to be on the selection committee this year as I am told it was an incredibly difficult choice between some exceptional candidates,” the Governor said.
“I’m very proud in a small way to be associated with Jesse today – he has some amazing intellectual challenges ahead and will make some great friendships and meet some great colleagues. This will rocket charge his career and he will soar.”
Mr Schelfhout, a former La Salle College student and Stoneville resident, said he was thrilled to have been given the opportunity to experience everything that Oxford had to offer.
“It’s a very profound university and a wonderful collegiate system and I’m looking forward to working alongside the Rhodes Scholar community,” he said.
Mr Schelfhout joins a distinguished group of Rhodes Scholars from UWA, including Governor Beazley, former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, former WA premier Geoff Gallop, the late David Malcolm, a former WA chief justice, and Australian business leader Sir Rod Eddington.
The Governor announced that UWA’s Jasmine Laing, a former St Mark’s Anglican Community School student, and Cambridge student Mathew Blacker, who attended Hale School, would progress to the next round to be considered for an Australia-at-Large Scholarship.