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Rhodes scholar Krishnan studies vampires

November 21, 2005 18:29 IST

Lakshmi Krishnan, a Wake Forest University student, has been concentrating on vampires and the imagery of blood in 19th century novels for her senior thesis.

And she has been one of the most active members of Amnesty International on American campuses.

But her professional interest lies in medicine and she wants to be a doctor, specialising in the health problems of developing countries.

Before entering medical school, Krishnan, 20, will continue her study in literature at Oxford University, covering especially the 20th century. Krishnan, who majors in English and German, believes that literature can give doctors tremendous amount of insights into their patients.

"Ultimately, literature and medicine center around the human being," she says adding, that it was one of the reasons why a handful of doctors turned to literature.

On Saturday, Krishnan heard that she was one of the 32 college students from across the United States successful in one of the most fiercely competed of scholarships in the country. The scholars, selected from 903 applicants who were endorsed by 333 colleges and universities, will enter Oxford University in England next October.

The scholarships are given for high academic achievement and work in the community. Rhodes scholars in the past 15 years include the distinguished New Yorker magazine writer Atul Gawande, a physician and professor at Harvard Medical School. Other famous Rhodes Scholars include President Bill Clinton, U S Supreme Court Justice David Souter, singer Kris Kristofferson, and former presidential candidate Bill Bradley and James William Fulbright, creator of the Fulbright Scholarships.

Other South Asian students on the list include Rahul Satija, Noorain F Khan and Samsher S Gill.

According to Wake Forest News Service, Krishnan explored the connections between Emily Brontë's life and her novel Wuthering Heights three years ago during a summer research project in England funded by a grant from Wake Forest. Her paper is archived at the Bronte Parsonage Museum Library in Yorkshire, England.

For many months she worked as an intern in East Africa with the non-profit organisation Physicians for Human Rights.

While there, she researched the conflict in northern Uganda and its effects on HIV/AIDS transmission. She wrote papers to support the organisation's Health Action AIDS Campaign. One regarding HIV/AIDS prevention was used to educate health professionals in Kampala.

Satija is majoring in biology and music with a minor in math from Duke University. The concertmaster for the Duke Symphony Orchestra, he spends several hours a week teaching violin to the inner city students in Durham.

He has won first prize in competitions, including the Russian-American International Festival of Young Virtuosos and the Durham Symphony Concerto Competition.

Khan is writing her thesis at Rice University on the practice of using veil among Muslim women in recent decades.

Proficient in half a dozen languages including Hindi, Farsi and Spanish, she is also active in the university's human rights groups.

A graduate of University of Chicago, Gill is currently a researcher in media criticism and is involved in fact-checking Fox News' 'The  O'Reilly Factor'.

The scholarships, the oldest of the international study awards available to Americans, provide two or three years of study at Oxford. Each scholarship is valued at least $40,000.

Arthur J Pais in New York