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Celebrating UT’s Eighth Rhodes Scholar

Senior Grant Rigney has been named a 2019 Rhodes Scholar, making him only the eighth Volunteer in history to earn this honor. The Rhodes is one of the most prestigious awards a student can receive.

Grant joins a prestigious group of Rhodes Scholars from UT Knoxville: Bernadotte Schmitt (1905), Matthew G. Smith (1911), Arthur Preston Whitaker (1917), William E. Derryberry (1928), Nancy-Ann Min DeParle (1979), Jennifer Santoro Stanley (1995), and Lindsay Lee (2014).

A native of Normandy, Tennessee, and a graduate of Tullahoma High School, Grant is not only an exceptional student but also a person of many interests and talents. He truly epitomizes what it means to be a Volunteer

Grant is a Haslam Scholar and Neyland Scholar. He’s majoring in chemical and biomolecular engineering.

An aspiring surgeon and public health researcher, Grant is involved in research at UT Medical Center on phase transfer catalysts as a way to measure the toxicity of imaging agents used in PET and CT scans. He’s currently writing his undergraduate thesis on disparate response patterns seen in mice receiving immunotherapy treatment for melanoma—research he did during an internship at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital this past summer. He participated in study abroad at the University of Edinburgh, where he focused on the ethics of health care resource allocation.

Grant also finds time to give back to his campus and community.

He edits Pursuit, our journal of undergraduate research, serves as president of the Student Alumni Associates, and is a member of UT’s Alumni Board of Directors. He volunteers at Inskip Elementary School and the Fifth Avenue Clinic, and he co-founded UT’s Homeless Prevention University and Community Alliance, a student organization that works to raise awareness of homelessness in Knoxville.

In addition, he is an accomplished musician who plays the fiddle and mandolin, a licensed private pilot, and a triathlete.

As a Rhodes Scholar, Grant will begin two years of all-expenses-paid studies at the University of Oxford in England next fall. He plans to pursue two master’s degrees—one in global health science and epidemiology and one in evidence-based social intervention and policy evaluation.

Read more about Grant.

Congratulations, Grant! We can’t wait to see what you accomplish in the future.

Students interested in applying for the Rhodes or other national awards should contact our Office of National Scholarships and Fellowships. Email Andrew Seidler at or call 865-974-3518.