Qitong “Thomas” Cao, who is simultaneously earning a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in management science and engineering, with a focus on computational social science, has been named a 2018 Rhodes Scholar.

He will pursue a master’s degree in Social Science of the Internet at Oxford.

Cao, who was born and raised in Nanjing, China, and will represent China as a Rhodes Scholar, was one of 63 international scholars chosen from around the world for Rhodes Scholarships, which are considered one of the oldest and most celebrated international fellowships in the world. He is the first Rhodes Scholar from China whose bachelor’s degree is not from a Chinese university.

portrait of Qitong "Thomas" Cao

Qitong “Thomas” Cao (Image credit: Courtesy Qitong Cao)

Rhodes Scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England and, in some instances, may allow funding for four years. Rhodes Scholars are chosen for their scholarly achievements, character, commitment to others and to the common good, and leadership potential.

Cao and the other international scholars will join the 32 scholars selected as 2018 Rhodes Scholars from the United States, including five with Stanford affiliations. Each year, the Rhodes Trust selects 95 scholars from the United States and 20 other jurisdictions (64 countries). The 2018 Rhodes Scholars will enter Oxford in October.

At Stanford, Cao is a senior honors student in the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, which bridges the worlds of scholarship, policy and practice to understand and advance the conditions for just, democratic and sustainable development around the world. In his research, Cao applies formal models and statistical methods to study internet governance in different political systems. In his honors thesis, Cao is examining how the construction of a domestic cyberspace in China helps the Chinese government overcome the information dilemma facing authoritarian regimes.

“I am extremely grateful for my professors in the Political Science Department and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies who have encouraged me to pursue my passion in social science research,” said Cao, who has conducted quantitative social science research at the World Bank and at Google.

At Stanford, Cao served as co-president of the Forum for American/Chinese Exchange at Stanford (FACES), an international organization representing a global network of professionals, scholars and leaders who are shaping their respective fields in the United States and China.

If students are interested in learning more about the Rhodes – or if Stanford faculty and staff wish to nominate students – they should contact Diane Murk, manager of the Overseas Resources Center, at dmurk@stanford.edu; or John Pearson, director emeritus of the Bechtel International Center, at john.pearson@stanford.edu.