Transgender Georgia Tech student named Rhodes Scholar
Calvin Runnels, a senior biochemistry major from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is the second-ever openly transgender American Rhodes Scholar. The scholarship is considered to be the most prestigious available to American students, and covers all expenses for two to three years of study at Oxford University in England beginning next fall.
“I was absolutely floored when they called my name,” Runnels told Georgia Voice. “I had been steeling myself to congratulate two of my new friends from among the other 13 finalists — all of whom, I think, would have been exceptionally deserving of the scholarship.”
Runnels’ research looks to advance crystallographic techniques of proteins and also investigates the origin of ribosomes, which are cellular structures that assist in building proteins. His research may provide insight into the origins of life, according to the Rhodes Trust.
While at Georgia Tech, Runnels was recognized as the highest-rated teaching assistant for his work in undergraduate mathematics; organized rallies on behalf of the immigrant community and efforts to include more gender-neutral bathrooms on campus; and was appointed co-chair of Tech’s LGBT+ Action Committee.
Runnels is joined as a Rhodes Scholar by another Georgian, Chelsea Jackson of Lithonia. Jackson studies at Emory University and is the first African-American woman from the institution to be a Rhodes Scholar.
Judge set to rule in anti-LGBT former Atlanta fire chief’s case
Transgender Georgia Tech student Calvin Runnels was named a Rhodes Scholar, considered the most prestigious scholarship available to American students. (Photo courtesy Calvin Runnels)