How to apply

Pedro Vallejo Ramirez

Pedro Vallejo Ramirez

  • Scholar
  • 2016
  • Colombia
  • PhD Biotechnology
  • Robinson College

Born in Colombia but raised in Panama, I grew up playing with Legos. I rendered my thoughts in the form of colored bricks, building until my fingertips hurt from pushing pieces together. This passion for building translated into a love for science, which resulted in a Bachelor’s degree in Optical Engineering at the University of Rochester. During my studies I explored the ray, wave, and quantum natures of light and I fell in love with its inherent duality. There’s no absolute definition to light’s character, it depends on the context in which it interacts with its surroundings. Science and technology inspire me, and management and entrepreneurship are my driving passions. I truly enjoy working with people, especially to push forward new technologies to improve our society’s living standards. At Cambridge I will work with Professor Clemens Kaminski’s group to pioneer new trade-offs between optical and digital complexity in super resolution microscopy to better understand chemical reactions in the human body at a nanometer scale. This could allow scientists to better understand protein aggregation in the brain for early diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. In the long term I want to become involved in international public policy on technological innovation and energy awareness; I want to bridge the gap between technical knowledge, management decisions, and policy making in the optics and photonics industry.

Previous Education

University of Rochester

The application process

Watch the University’s short overview film about applying for postgraduate admission and funding and then read below about specific requirements for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship.

A combined application form

Applicants submit their application for admission and funding (Gates Cambridge and other funding) via the University’s Graduate Application Portal.

To be considered for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship you must complete the section to apply for admission to a course and a College place and the Gates Cambridge part of the funding section. Gates Cambridge has access to the full application for admission and funding when reviewing applications.

The admission section

In this section you are applying to a specific graduate course and a College place. You will provide all of the usual details about yourself, your academic background, plans and suitability for the proposed course.

The funding section

In this section you can apply for a range of funding offered by the University and associated bodies, including the Gates Cambridge Scholarships, which has it’s own sub-section. When applying for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship you will be asked to provide the following:

Statement

In the application form we ask:

In no more than 3000 characters (approximately 500 words) please explain why you are applying for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship and how you meet the four main criteria. Full details about how to apply, including selection criteria and guidance on completing this statement, can be found at: www.gatescambridge.org

The statement is used by the Gates Cambridge shortlisting committees to distinguish between candidates who have been highly ranked by departments on academic grounds. It helps our committees identify those candidates who, as well as being academically outstanding, possess a capacity for leadership and commitment to improving the lives of others. This is the only part of the application form where applicants are specifically asked about their fit with the Gates Cambridge programme and you should use your background, achievements, experiences and future aims to show how you would be a good fit with the Gates Cambridge programme.

Research proposal (PhD applicants only)

Gates Cambridge requires PhD applicants only to submit a research proposal as part of their application for funding. Most PhD applicants will upload a research proposal as part of their application for admission, but where this is not the case a research proposal is required to apply for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. If you are applying for a degree other than the PhD you do not need to submit a research proposal as part of your materials of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship .

Gates Cambridge reference

In addition to two academic references for admission, Gates Cambridge applicants submit a reference about their fit with the scholarship.

In the application form we ask:

Please give your assessment of the applicant’s suitability for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. These are awarded on the following criteria: intellectual ability, justification for the choice of course, a commitment to improving the lives of others and leadership capacity.

We also ask:

  • How highly would you rank the applicant for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship?
  • On what overall group are you basing this ranking?
  • What is the size of this group?

The Gates Cambridge Reference is used in the same way as the Gates Cambridge Statement – to reduce the large number of well-qualified applicants to those who match the Gates Cambridge criteria.

Referees are also asked how they rate the applicant for the scholarship: exceptional, strong, not strong, weak. They may paste/type up to 4,000 characters into the on-line reference or upload a separate letter.

Who should write the Gates Cambridge Reference?

This is a common question. You should definitely not ask friends or family, or someone who is unable to comment on your suitability for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship.

You should ask someone of appropriate standing who is able to answer the question with authority and who understands the the criteria and highly competitive nature of the Gates Cambridge programme.

Many applicants ask a current or former academic advisor who is aware of their personal attributes, others ask a current or former employer, while others ask senior staff in an organisation with whom they may have volunteered. These are all sensible choices, although this is by no means an exhaustive list. Some applicants ask one of their two academic referees to write the Gates Cambridge reference: this is fine as long as that person has a good understanding of your personal qualities and does not provide a third academic reference. The important point to remember is that the Gates Cambridge Referee must understand what the Scholarship is about and must be able to write authoritatively about how you meet the criteria.

Some points to consider are:

  • It is essential that the Gates Cambridge Referee is fully briefed about the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, especially its selection criteria;
  • It is useful when referees use specific examples of how you meet the Scholarship’s criteria;
  • While your referees are likely to be busy, you will need to ensure they understand the need to keep the reference focused on the Gates Cambridge criteria and not, for example, rehash a standard or previous reference.

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