First cohort of Gates Cambridge Class of 2021 announced

  • February 8, 2021
First cohort of Gates Cambridge Class of 2021 announced

Twenty four new Gates Cambridge Scholars from the US have been named and will join around 60 others in May to form the Class of 2021

The US Scholars-elect have been selected to reflect the mission of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s generous and historic gift to the University of Cambridge, the 20th anniversary of which we are currently celebrating.

Professor Barry Everitt

Twenty four of the most academically outstanding and socially committed US citizens have been selected to be part of the 2021 class of Gates Cambridge Scholars at the University of Cambridge in the Scholarship’s 20th anniversary year.

The US Scholars-elect, who will take up their awards this October, are from a wide range of backgrounds. They come from universities across the United States and beyond, including six institutions that have for the first time produced a Gates Cambridge Scholar (Bowdoin College, Bucknell University, Clemson University, Temple University, the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya and the University of Houston).  Fourteen are women, nine are men and is one non-binary. Eighteen will pursue PhDs while six will undertake one-year master’s degrees.

They include:

Myesha Jemison who will do a PhD in Education

Myesha, who attended Princeton University and is currently at Columbia University, will investigate the use of EdTech applications by out-of-school youth, working with students to design interventions together to combat educational inequality. Myesha will draw on her own experience to address these issues. She says: “My degrees weren’t the first to teach me that inequity in education opportunities and outcomes is widespread, yet poorly addressed. Writing my college and scholarship essays on my smartphone and having my mother bus me to the best free advanced academic programmes available outside my neighbourhood taught me that.”

Alexander Voisine who will do a PhD in Latin American Studies

Alexander, who previously studied at Temple University in Philadelphia, has recently been working for the UN in Mexico City, pioneering a training programme for public officials and NGOs on the protection of trans migrants’ personal data. For his PhD, he will look at refugees/exiles who resettled in Mexico from the 20th century to the present and who challenged gender and sexuality norms. His focus will be on writers, artists, intellectuals and activists from across the world and how they impacted (and were impacted by) the artistic and political landscapes of Mexico.

Hallie Gaitsch who will do a PhD in Clinical Neurosciences

Hallie, who has attended Yale University and is on the Johns Hopkins Medical Scientist Training Programme, will undertake a collaborative project between the NIH and Cambridge focusing on using remyelination biology and spatio-temporal modelling of multiple sclerosis lesion development to create a method for effectively assessing myelin protection and regeneration. She will also seek to investigate the underlying processes that contribute to neuroinflammatory pathology and subsequent demyelination and neurodegeneration. Hallie has been awarded the joint Gates Cambridge NIH OxCam Scholarship.

Clara Ma who will do a PhD Land Economy

Clara, who is at Tsinghua University in China, will compare the low-carbon energy transformations of China and India through the lens of clean energy access and development.  She will also work on the Economics of Energy Innovation and System Transition project, helping to develop empirically validated modeling tools to assess the impacts of energy and technology-related policies on the clean energy transitions of China, India, Brazil, the UK and the EU.

Tanvi Rao who will do a PhD in Radiogenomics

Tanvi, who attended Georgia Tech and has been working as an Associate at 11Ten Innovation Partners, will work in the emerging field of radiogenomics which combines medical imaging with genomic data. She will seek to develop imaging biomarkers and predictive models for liver cancer with the aim of improving access to care by creating tools that enhance diagnostics, enable remote assessment and improve precision care. She says her previous work on innovation showed her that subconscious bias in tactical solution design often excludes patients with the greatest need. She says: “While innovation is key to society’s well-being and progress, I believe we are also obligated to ensure that it reaches those who need it most.”

Elizabeth Wiita who will do a PhD in Chemistry

Elizabeth, who has studied at Barnard College and Columbia University, will explore the transportation of nucleic acids into cellular environments, a process which is fundamental to achieving targeted health treatments, including therapeutics, CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing and vaccines. She says: “With this research, I seek to address not only crucial scientific questions, but also gaps in international medical care, where stable and easily transportable therapeutics are crucial in ameliorating health disparities.”

Adaiah Hudgins-Lopez who will do an MPhil in Social Anthropology

Adaiah, who studied at Bowdoin College in Maine and is currently working for Root Cause, a nonprofit consulting organisation, will study the relationship between legal systems and immigrant communities in anthropological research. She plans to continue researching immigration law, legal consciousness and how undocumented immigrants form collective identity in order to elevate immigrant voices and to promote the autonomy of immigrant communities.

The 24 US Scholars-elect will study and research subjects ranging from bioelectronic medical technology for targeted drug delivery to the brain and the ways in which universities can promote social good in diverse global societies to the intelligent design of advanced nanomaterials in battery components.

The prestigious postgraduate scholarship programme – which fully funds postgraduate study and research in any subject at the University of Cambridge – was established through a US$210 million donation to the University of Cambridge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000; this remains the largest single donation to a UK university. Since the first class in 2001, Gates Cambridge has awarded 1,932 scholarships to scholars from 111 countries who represent more than 600 universities globally (more than 200 in the USA) and more than 80 academic departments and all 31 Colleges at Cambridge.

In addition to outstanding academic achievement the programme places an emphasis on social leadership in its selection process.  The programme’s aim is to create a global network of future leaders committed to improving the lives of others.

The US Scholars-elect will join around 60 Scholars from other parts of the world, who will be announced in early April. The full class of 2021 will join current Gates Cambridge Scholars in October to form a community of approximately 240 current Scholars in residence at the world-leading University of Cambridge.

Professor Barry Everitt FRS, Provost of the Gates Cambridge Trust, said: “It is with great pleasure that the Trust is able to announce the US cohort of the class of 2021. This year has been particularly challenging and has highlighted the importance of the kind of international, outward-looking and socially committed approach that these diverse Scholars embody. The US Scholars-elect have been selected to reflect the mission of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s generous and historic gift to the University of Cambridge, the 20th anniversary of which we are currently celebrating. Like their predecessors, this year’s cohort are an extraordinarily impressive and diverse group who have already achieved much in terms of their academic studies and leadership abilities and have already shown their commitment to improving the lives of others in multiple ways. We are sure these scholars – and those we announce in early April from other parts of the world – will flourish in the rich, international community at Cambridge and that they will make a significant impact in their fields and to the wider global community. I also take this opportunity to warmly thank those who have given their time and expertise to the selection of these exceptional scholars.”

*Full bios and photos of the Scholars-elect are available from our Directory page.

**Picture credit of the Backs to Clare College and King’s Chapel by Christian Richardt.

Latest News

Exploring the neural bases of consciousness

New insights into how neurochemical influences from the brainstem affect the rest of the brain to bring about consciousness could help brain-damaged patients and further our understanding of how consciousness works. A new study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences [PNAS] by researchers at the Division of Anaesthesia, University of Cambridge investigates the […]

Knowledge gap on zoonotic disease transmission highlighted

The impact of climate change on migration patterns, particularly in areas which depend on agriculture and livestock, could affect zoonotic disease transmission yet little research has been done to date. A new study, led by Gates Cambridge Scholar and Veterinary Science PhD student Dorien Braam [2018], looks at the research that currently exists, but calls […]

Addressing climate change in words and action

A Gates Cambridge Scholar has called for the US federal government to establish a national, robust and legally binding net-zero target that emphasises comprehensiveness, equity and clarity on the role of offsets.  In an opinion piece in Arizona Republic, Stephen Lezak and his co-authors, including Kate Gallego, the mayor of Phoenix, Arizona, which has done […]

Gates Cambridge mentors: forging bonds and giving back

The Gates Cambridge Scholars Council has been running a mentoring programme since 2018 as part of an effort to bring alumni and scholars closer together, build a stronger sense of community and to give mentors a chance to give back. This year has seen a big increase in the number of mentors coming forward, with […]