Hofstra University scholar and athlete Joseph Burg has been named a 2013 American Rhodes Scholar finalist, becoming the second student in the university's history to achieve that standing for one of the world's most prestigious academic awards.
Burg, 22, an Honors College senior with a 4.0 grade-point average, was among 212 finalists selected from more than 800 students from across the United States endorsed for a Rhodes scholarship this year by their college or university.
The math and physics major from Illinois aspires to a career in nanotechnology, with a focus in clean energy or medical applications.
This week, 32 of the finalists were named Rhodes scholars for 2013, earning full scholarships for two or three years of study at Oxford University in England.
Burg, in an interview Tuesday, said he was "really humbled" by his selection as a finalist and praised the high caliber of the other candidates.
"To be considered in that group is just an honor in itself," he said.
It's an honor Burg said not only "validates the hard work that I've put in, but it really validates Hofstra as a whole."
Faculty members "encouraged me, mentored me and pushed me," he said, mentioning research done during internships and singling out his work with physics professor Gregory Levine.
"Joe is among one of the most accomplished undergraduates that Hofstra has seen in the past decade," Hofstra president Stuart Rabinowitz said in a statement. "He has earned virtually every academic recognition that the university grants, from scholarly and athletic scholarships to membership in the Phi Beta Kappa honor society."
Burg, of Lindenhurst, Ill., is a pitcher on Hofstra's baseball team, appearing to date in 65 games over three seasons, with 86 strikeouts in 123 1/3 innings pitched. The lefty currently is fifth on the team's career appearances list.
He expressed gratitude to coach John Russo. "He and the rest of the coaching staff have created the best possible environment to be a student in addition to competing at a high level athletically," Burg said.
The first Hofstra undergraduate to be named a Rhodes finalist was Dr. Hilarie Cranmer, a 1989 Hofstra graduate who is a physician and professor at Harvard University. She played basketball for Hofstra.
The university listed a slew of honors Burg has amassed: the Phi Beta Kappa Sophomore Book Award, the 2010 Carl Friedrich Gauss Award for Excellence in Mathematics, the 2011 Homer Demetriou Endowed Scholarship for Mathematics, and the Azelle Waltcher Endowed Scholarship for Mathematics in 2012. He is a three-time recipient of the Colonial Athletic Association Commissioner's Academic Award.