Gates Cambridge has begun the selection process for its class of 2018. After interviews in Seattle, Wash., in late January, the Gates Cambridge Trust has awarded scholarships to 35 outstanding candidates from across the United States.
Among the scholars are Neil Davey, Ayan Mandal, Pranay Nadella, Kaamya Varagur, Vaithish Velazhahan, Monica Kullar and Ali Ansari.
Davey, who previously studied at Harvard University, will pursue an M.Phil in technology policy at Pembroke College.
"Visiting India each summer as I grew up in Maryland, I not only developed a deep appreciation for the beauty of Sanskrit and the rhythm of the tabla, but also a keen interest in the issue of access to healthcare technology in resource-limited settings," the Indian American said in his bio. "As an undergraduate at Harvard studying applied mathematics/economics with a secondary in global health and health policy, I founded UniDx, an organization focused on the early-stage diagnosis of infectious diseases using microfluidics-based technology."
Davey traveled to both Peru and India to conduct clinical studies on the low-cost device for individuals with malaria. During his time there, he found that pure technological solutions were simply not enough to remedy pressing global health problems; rather, a more integrated approach addressing the relevant social, political and economic barriers was required.
Mandal, who studied at Georgetown University, will pursue a doctorate in psychiatry from St. Edmund's College as a Gates Cambridge Scholar.
He said in his bio that, during high school, he was interested in the questions surrounding psychology, but more satisfied with answers utilizing biology.
"Naturally, this predicament led me to neuroscience. At Georgetown University, while pursing majors in neurobiology and physics, I studied how different disease states could affect the connectivity of the nervous system," he wrote. "Most of my work centered on stroke, where we investigated how damage to neural structures, particularly white matter tracts, affected language abilities in patients."
He'll continue applying his growing expertise in network neuroscience analysis while studing at Cambridge.
Nadella, who studied at Harvard University, will pursue an M.Phil in public health at Christ's College as a Cambridge Scholar.
Nadella grew up in suburban New Jersey, raised by immigrant parents from India.
"Growing up, I devoted much of my time to community service. My experience volunteering at a free medical clinic in New Jersey showed me that the same health disparities in my father’s village exist around me in New Jersey," he said. "As an undergraduate student at Harvard University, I study biology and statistics in order to refine my lens on pressing public health challenges."
Varagur studied at Princeton University and will pursue an M.Phil. in music from Wolfson College as a Cambridge Scholar.
She is a scientist and singer, according to her bio. At Princeton, she majored in neuroscience with a certificate in vocal performance.
"As a student of both neuroscience and music, I have always been interested in the scientific study of music’s effects on mind and body," she said in her bio.
At Cambridge, her research will specifically examine the reciprocal effects of infant-directed singing on mother and child, looking at how such music modulates physiological arousal/stress. She plans to pursue a medical career.
Velazhahan studied at Kansas State University and will pursue a doctorate in biological science at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology at Sidney Sussex College.
At KSU, where he double majored in medical biochemistry and microbiology, Velazhahan used biophysical tools to characterize direct targets of dietary flavonoids, which are abundantly found in fruits and vegetables and are known to possess anti-cancerous properties.
"This project emerged from my quest to understand protein-flavonoid interactions," he explained. "As the only person conducting this research, I had to teach myself a lot of different techniques and face numerous challenges, but in the process I developed a great love and appreciation for the visualization of protein structures."
Ansari, who studied previously at Columbia University Teachers College and Cornell University, will continue his studies at Cambridge's Hughes Hall, pursuing a doctorate in education.
He said in his bio he is a firm believer that a good quality education is the foundation for economic prosperity and poverty alleviation. Since 2010, he has been working in the development sector in Pakistan on the design and implementation of education reform programs.
"As a Ph.D. student with the Education faculty in Cambridge, my objective is to further develop my research skills to work towards bridging the gap between research, program design and implementation," he wrote in his bio. "In a country like Pakistan, where millions of children remain out of school, and the quality of education is poor, there is enormous amounts of untapped potential that is waiting to be harnessed."
Ansari said he hopes to play his part in ensuring that people have the opportunity to access quality education to realize their full potential, and improve the quality of their lives.
Kullar, who studied at U.C. San Diego, will pursue a doctorate in biological science at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at King's College.
After graduating a year early, she joined Stanford University as a research assistant in the departments of psychology and psychiatry and behavioral sciences where she explored how neural systems and personal traits are involved in the formation of social networks, as well as how neural mechanisms underlying self-regulation of emotion and cognition may predict positive lifestyle and mood-related changes in depression and obesity.
"At the University of Cambridge, I aim to conduct research on the effectiveness of down-regulating negative emotions in stressful real-world contexts, and elucidate further on neurobiological models of emotion regulation across both healthy and vulnerable populations," she said. "My goal is to advance our understanding on the complexities of managing our emotions and address ways to improve emotional and mental health."
In addition to the U.S.-based Scholars named, the Trust will conduct interviews in late March with candidates from across the globe, ultimately naming 55 scholars in April.