UVic biochemistry undergrad student Rory Hills, pictured in chemist Dennis Hore’s lab, has been named 2020 Rhodes Scholar. December 2019. (Courtesy of Jennifer Kwan)

UVic biochemistry undergrad student Rory Hills, pictured in chemist Dennis Hore’s lab, has been named 2020 Rhodes Scholar. December 2019. (Courtesy of Jennifer Kwan)

University of Victoria biochemistry student England bound as Rhodes Scholar

The Rhodes Scholarship covers travel, living and study expenses to the University of Oxford

A University of Victoria student who helped establish a drug-checking pilot project has won the opportunity to travel to and study at a prestigious university in Oxford, England.

Rory Hills, 23, was awarded the Rhodes Scholarship because of his academic achievement and leadership. The scholarship covers travel, living, and study expenses at Oxford where he will be based in the fall of 2020.

“I could barely speak when I found out. This scholarship opens so many doors that might otherwise be shut,” said Hills.

Rhodes Scholars are selected based on academic achievement, exceptional character, leadership, achievement in extra-curricular activities and a commitment to solving humanity’s challenges.

Hills said there is no greater challenge today for the planet than climate change. Under the supervision of UVic biochemist Alisdair Boraston, Hills’ honours thesis will focus on studying proteins with the potential for producing biofuels from seaweed.

READ ALSO: UVic’s cutting-edge centre leading the way in drones and AI

READ ALSO: UVic partners with harm reduction groups to run a drug checking pilot project

During his undergraduate studies, Hills was part of a small interdisciplinary team led by UVic’s chemistry professor Dennis Hore and professor of social work Bruce Wallace. Hills helped establish a drug-checking pilot project in 2018 that operates in three Victoria locations. The project aims to provide a quick, accurate chemical analysis of drugs to prevent overdoses and evaluates different drug-checking technologies.

Hills discovered his love of science early in life. He remembers when Canadian scientist Andrew Weaver, who is also a professor at UVic’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, talked to his school about climate change.

“He told us that we not only had the ability to make change, but we had a responsibility to strive for it,” said Hills.

From the time he was in high school, Hills volunteered with the B.C. Greens. In 2015, Weaver became the leader of the B.C. Green Party. Hills was the director of communications during Weaver’s 2017 re-election campaign.

“Every day, I got to work towards a vision of a government that put evidence at the centre of its decision-making process,” says Hills of his experiences.

UVic President Jamie Cassels said Hills is an “extraordinary” student who has already made transformative contributions through his research. “The impact of his work will without a doubt improve and enrich lives, and promote a sustainable future,” Cassels said.

Before Hills, 10 UVic students have been named Rhodes Scholars. Hills is the eleventh Uvic student to win the international post-graduate award. The scholarship was established in 1902, more than a century ago.

READ MORE: UVic pronounces three new Canada Research chairs

sophie.heizer@saanichnews.com


Like us on Facebook and follow @yrlocaljourno

Advanced EducationScholarshipsUniversity of Victoria

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The City of Victoria is holding a byelection Dec. 12 to fill one vacant council seat. (Don Descoteau/Black Press Media)
Here’s how to vote in the City of Victoria by-election

Dec. 12 election will fill one vacant Victoria council seat

A Cariboo bride could very well be without her uniform this Labour Day weekend after leaving a wedding dress in a box behind a grocery store in 100 Mile House. File photo.
The West Shore Firefighters Association dropped off a cheque on Nov. 28 for the Goldstream Food Bank. (Photo contributed by View Royal Firefighters Association)
West Shore firefighters give food bank a big boost

Four departments collaborate on initiative for Goldstream Food Bank

The Digital Divide–Community Technology Help Desk program looks to provide vulnerable Victoria residents with access to technology. (Black Press Media)
Technology lending library and help desk now available in Victoria

United Way Greater Victoria hopes the program will help close the digital divide

A snow moon rises over Mt. Cheam in Chilliwack on Feb. 8, 2020. Friday, Dec. 11, 2020 is Mountain Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Dec. 6 to 12

Mountain Day, Dewey Decimal System Day and Lard Day are all coming up this week

Robert Riley Saunders. (File)
First Nations Leadership Council demands justice for victims of B.C. social worker

Union of BC Indian Chiefs calls actions of Robert Saunders ‘nothing short of complete depravity’

Demonstrators, organized by the Public Fishery Alliance, outside the downtown Vancouver offices of Fisheries and Oceans Canada July 6 demand the marking of all hatchery chinook to allow for a sustainable public fishery while wild stocks recover. (Public Fishery Alliance Facebook photo)
Angry B.C. anglers see petition tabled in House of Commons

Salmon fishers demand better access to the healthy stocks in the public fishery

(Hotel Zed/Flytographer)
B.C. hotel grants couple 18 years of free stays after making baby on Valentines Day

Hotel Zed has announced a Kelowna couple has received free Valentines Day stays for next 18 years

Farmers raise slogans during a protest on a highway at the Delhi-Haryana state border, India, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rejected the diplomatic scolding Canada’s envoy to India received on Friday for his recent comments in support of protesting Indian farmers. Tens of thousands of farmers have descended upon the borders of New Delhi to protest new farming laws that they say will open them to corporate exploitation. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Manish Swarup
Trudeau brushes off India’s criticism for standing with farmers in anti-Modi protests

The High Commission of India in Ottawa had no comment when contacted Friday

Montreal Alouettes’ Michael Sam is set to make his pro football debut as he warms up before the first half of a CFL game against the Ottawa Redblacks in Ottawa on Friday, Aug. 7, 2015. Sam became the first publicly gay player to be drafted in the NFL. He signed with the Montreal Alouettes after being released by St. Louis, but abruptly left after playing one game. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Study finds Canada a ‘laggard’ on homophobia in sports

Among females, 44 per cent of Canadians who’ve come out to teammates reported being victimized

Nurse Kath Olmstead prepares a shot as the world’s biggest study of a possible COVID-19 vaccine, developed by the National Institutes of Health and Moderna Inc., gets underway Monday, July 27, 2020, in Binghamton, N.Y. U.S. biotech firm Moderna says its vaccine is showing signs of producing lasting immunity to COVID-19, and that it will have as many as many as 125 million doses available by the end of March. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Hans Pennink
Canada orders more COVID vaccines, refines advice on first doses as cases reach 400K

Canada recorded its 300,000th case of COVID-19 on Nov. 16

Apartments are seen lit up in downtown Vancouver as people are encouraged to stay home during the global COVID-19 pandemic on Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. British Columbia’s deputy provincial health officer says provincewide data show the most important area B.C. must tackle in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic is health inequity. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
Age, income among top factors affecting well-being during pandemic, B.C. survey shows

Among respondents earning $20,000 a year or less, more than 41 per cent reported concern about food insecurity

Information about the number of COVID-19 cases in Abbotsford and other municipalities poses a danger to the public, the Provincial Health Services Authority says. (Photo: Tyler Olsen/Abbotsford News)
More city-level COVID-19 data would jeopardize public health, B.C. provincial health agency says

Agency refuses to release weekly COVID-19 case counts, citing privacy and public health concerns

Most Read