BGS Old Boy Becomes 2020 Rhodes Scholar

Engineer and BGS Old Boy Nicholas Salmon ’12 is still coming to terms with being announced as Queensland’s newest Rhodes Scholar. Next year, he will relocate to the University of Oxford where he will undertake a Doctor of Philosophy (DPhil) Engineering Science.

Salmon said he ​was “shocked but very excited” when told of the achievement and credited BGS for preparing him well for his academic success. “My time at Brisbane Grammar School was the perfect foundation for my scholarship application,” he said.

“Its holistic approach to education encouraged me to aim for the highest standards in both academic and extracurricular pursuits. I’m still connected with teaching staff at the School, and they provided me with invaluable assistance during my application process.”

The 2012 winner of the Lilley Gold Medal for Dux of School carried his incredible academic success into university. He graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering and Master of Engineering with First Class Honours (Chemical Engineering) from The University of Queensland and won the University Medal in 2017.

Salmon is employed as a process engineer in the Bauxite and Alumina Global Centre of Excellence of engineering, technical and professional services firm Worley. “As an engineer, I contribute to my team by finding technical solutions that reduce our clients’ water, energy and resource consumption in economically feasible ways,” he said.

“The biggest threat to our community is climate change. It threatens our environment and economy, and in so doing threatens our very way of life. We need engineering solutions that allow us to continue to grow sustainably and prosper while reducing emissions, and resolving economic concerns with the transition to green energy.”

As part of his studies at Oxford, Salmon will investigate the most effective ways to produce ‘green’ ammonia for fertiliser or energy. “Oxford University is currently pursuing research in using renewable energy to generate green hydrogen and subsequently, green ammonia using the Haber Bosch process,” he said.

“I propose to investigate the geographical gap between renewable energy sources and downstream users of ammonia, a common fertiliser. My research would identify the most effective ways to bring together disparate renewable energy sources to produce green ammonia for use in fertiliser or as an energy source.”

At university Salmon passed on his knowledge by tutoring fellow engineering students in thermodynamics and reactions engineering.

A true BGS all-rounder, he is a passionate debater and three-time finalist in the World Universities Debating Championships. At school, he captained the Queensland debating team in 2012 and a year later he was a member of the Australian team who won the World Schools Debating Championships.

Salmon, who was Captain of Music at BGS and won the Music and Strings prizes at school, is also a violinist with the Brisbane Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Rhodes Scholarship is the oldest and the most prestigious international postgraduate awards in the world, awarded to outstanding all-round students to study at Oxford. 

The scholarship was started in 1903 under the will of the late Cecil John Rhodes and aims to identify and develop leaders to achieve public good. The qualities Cecil Rhodes set out for those seeking Rhodes Scholarships include: academic and intellectual excellence, integrity of character, respect for fellow beings and a capacity for leadership.

Salmon is the 25th Rhodes Scholar from BGS, the most of any school in Queensland, and the first since 2007.