Merced County Times Newspaper
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UC Merced student Brinkmann named campus’s first Rhodes Scholar

Selina Brinkmann
Selina Brinkmann

UC Merced master’s student Selina Brinkmann has been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship for study at Oxford University — a first for the campus.

“A Rhodes Scholarship being awarded to one of our UC Merced engineering students is an amazing first,” School of Engineering Dean Mark Matsumoto said. “This first showcases our growing stature as a research university and what I love about UC Merced. Selina’s hard work and desire to excel, which is seen in many of our students, has led to this prestigious distinction.”

Brinkmann, who is from Germany, earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Siegen where she focused on successfully reducing noise pollution of wind turbines. She started at UC Merced in 2019 joining Professor James Palko’s lab researching sustainable water management for agriculture.

She said the location and the intimacy of the mechanical engineering program attracted her to graduate studies at UC Merced.

“The class sizes are small, and it is easy to get in touch with a professor,” Brinkmann added. “I was intrigued by the focus on renewable energies and sustainability. No other campus has such a big focus on it.”

Her research centers on reducing freshwater usage in greenhouses by replacing it with drainage water from the fields.

Brinkmann credits her UC Merced courses and class projects for helping her become more independent in her studying and learning habits.

“I am less worried about not knowing something and a lot more willing to ask for help when needed. I learned that one cannot be an expert on everything,” she said. “Going to UC Merced prior to pursuing my Ph.D. eased me into graduate studies, but Professor Palko showed me that graduate research is something I enjoy.”

The Rhodes Scholarship is the world’s preeminent and oldest graduate fellowship, based at the University of Oxford since 1903. Administered by the Rhodes Trust in Oxford, the program awards 100 fully funded Scholarships each year to students from anywhere in the world with proven academic excellence who also show exceptional character, leadership, achievement in extra-curricular activities and a commitment to solving humanity’s challenges.

In the fall, Brinkmann heads to Oxford to start a Ph.D. in Wind and Marine Energy Systems and Structures, researching turbomachinery.

After graduating with her Ph.D. from Oxford, Brinkman said she’d love to work for a larger marine energy center such as the Pacific Marine Energy Center or European Marine Energy Center.

“Ultimately, I want to become a professor, working on increasing water turbine efficiency and usage,” she said. “I would also love to join Engineers without Borders and share my knowledge in renewable technology such as wind and marine energy.”

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