First batch of the class of 2020 announced

  • February 13, 2020
First batch of the class of 2020 announced

Twenty eight new Gates Cambridge Scholars have been selected, forming the first part of the 2020 cohort.

We are sure that the entire class of 2020 will flourish in the vibrant, international community at Cambridge and that they will make a substantial impact in their fields and to the wider global community.

Professor Barry Everitt

Twenty eight of the most academically outstanding and socially committed US citizens have been selected to be part of the 2020 class of Gates Cambridge Scholars at the University of Cambridge.

The US Scholars-elect, who will take up their awards this October, are from 37 universities, including five institutions that have for the first time produced a Gates Cambridge Scholar (Bates College, Maine; MGH Institute of Health Professions, Boston; Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland; South Puget Sound College, Washington; and Universite de Montpellier, France).

They include:

  • Rebecca Turkington, who will do a PhD in History

Rebecca studied International Relations and History at Wellesley College before working on global gender policy at the National Democractic Institute, the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace & Security and the Council on Foreign Relations. She has studied women's participation in formal peace negotiations in Northern Ireland and Kenya and in the transitional justice process in Tunisia. In her position at the Council on Foreign Relations she also researched a book on the global #MeToo movement and has worked on reports on gender and terrorism and feminist foreign policy. At Cambridge she will focus on how women's transnational organising in the Middle East and North Africa has influenced global policy in the 20th century. “Understanding how women built and leveraged global networks offers an important perspective on rising international feminist activism today,” she says.

  • Nikhil Krishnan, who will do a PhD in Physics

As a medical student at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Nikhil has frequently cared for patients who have antibiotic-resistant infections. This first-hand encounter with the daunting global crisis of antibiotic resistance has inspired him to investigate the possibility of using physics to predict and reverse antibiotic resistance through rationally designed, evolutionarily-informed therapies. He will join Dr Diana Fusco’s group in taking an interdisciplinary approach to understanding  how evolution acts on short- and long-range cell-to-cell interactions within bacterial biofilms through both simulations and experiments. Nikhil is one of a number of aspiring doctors among the 2020 cohort who will be doing their PhDs before returning to the US to complete their medical studies.

  • Madeleine Hahne, who will do a PhD in Geography

Madeleine has been dedicated to nature conservation since childhood and her varied career has seen her work as a wildlife rehabilitator and Forest Service biological technician as well as a tall ship sailor. Another motivating force in her life is her faith, which has led her to study and practice in Jerusalem and the Balkans. After studying International Relations and Philosophy at Brigham Young University, she did a Masters in Muslim-Jewish relations at Cambridge. Her PhD, which brings together her passion for nature and religion, will focus on the complex dynamic between religion and the environment, particularly how religious action or inaction can change environmental outcomes. She says: “I will seek to understand how theological narratives around ecology are formed, and how they can transform behaviour.”

  • Cole Replogle, who will do an MRes and PhD in Future Propulsion and Power

Cole is the first person in his family to attend university and will graduate in May with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering from Oklahoma State University. There he has researched hybrid-electric propulsion for unmanned aircraft, something he will continue at Cambridge. Cole, whose father is a body piercer, is currently the President of the OSU chapter of Engineers Without Borders. He says: “The global challenges of tomorrow must be attacked from all angles, and I hope to contribute by reducing the environmental impact of air travel.” 

The US Scholars-elect will study and research subjects ranging from child trafficking prevention and adolescent mental health to traumatic brain injuries and neuroendocrine tumours.

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 there have been more than 1,700 Gates Cambridge Scholars from over 100 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 as its mission 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 after interviews in late March, so completing the class of 2020. The class of 2020 will join current Gates Cambridge Scholars in October to form a community of approximately 220 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 delight that the Trust has announced the outstanding students from the USA who have been selected to become Gates Cambridge Scholars after the first of its two selection rounds for entry in 2020. 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 and its focus on social leadership. 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 many different ways. We are particularly delighted that many will be pursuing PhDs. We are sure that the entire class of 2020 will flourish in the vibrant, international community at Cambridge and that they will make a substantial impact in their fields and to the wider global community.”

Full bios and photos of the Scholars-elect can be found at

*Picture credit: Wikipedia

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