A Grass Valley resident is one of 32 university students nationwide who will be attending the University of Oxford in England next fall on a Rhodes scholarship.
Daniel A. Price, 21, had a feast with friends and popped champagne Saturday night after learning he was named a Rhodes scholar. The senior at the University of California, Berkeley, will pursue a master's degree in bioengineering, with a focus on medical devices and global health.
"It hasn't even settled in yet," Price said from Berkeley on Sunday afternoon. "I never considered it as a reality. My friends and family were encouraging, but I was telling them not to get my hopes up, this is out of my league."
Price will graduate from Berkeley this spring with a bachelor's degree in bioengineering, and another in electrical engineering and computer sciences. He also has a minor in physics.
A 2009 graduate of Bear River High School in Grass Valley, Price said he phoned his parents, Eric and Dana Price of Grass Valley, with news of the award Saturday night.
Price was born in the Bay Area, and his family moved to Grass Valley when he was 4 years old. While in school in the foothill town, he was always drawn to math and science.
"All my schools were exceptional schools, and I had very supportive teachers," he said. "I think my old teachers will be excited when I tell them."
Price was a member of the varsity snowboarding team all four years at Bear River, and he continues to be an avid recreational snowboarder. Rhodes scholars are often singled out for both their intellectual and athletic accomplishments, he said, so he feels like his sport gave him a leg up in the application process.
He believes he's the first Grass Valley resident to be named a Rhodes scholar.
Price is anxious to attend classes at the prestigious Institute of Biomedical Engineering at Oxford, which collaborates with the university's medical school.
"I'm an engineer at heart, but I'm interested in applications of engineering in medicine," Price said. "The partnership of engineers and doctors at Oxford is going to be beneficial and eye-opening for me. I'm really honored to be studying in this cutting-edge environment."
Price already has worked on UC Berkeley research on magnetic particle imaging, or MPI, an improvement on magnetic resonance imaging, because it gives higher resolution pictures of the abdominal area.
He also studied surgical and medical robotics at Johns Hopkins University, where he researched the behavior and responses of fish to unexpected stimulus. The findings can be applied to robots performing surgery, allowing them to react to unexpected situations.
Price hopes to work in the medical devices field, developing products that are distributed to hospitals.
"I want to be able to see the impact of my work," Price said. "I want to talk to patients and doctors, so I can make devices better, make improvements and really see the difference in the lives of patients."
The scholarship, one of the best-known available to American college graduates, was created in 1902 by the will of Cecil Rhodes, a British philanthropist. The average award is about $50,000 a year in tuition and related expenses, for two to four years.
Among prominent Rhodes scholars are former President Bill Clinton, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, actor-songwriter Kris Kristofferson, Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker, former basketball star and former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.