First batch of the class of 2019 announced

Gates Cambridge announces US Scholars 2019

Thirty-four of the most academically outstanding and socially committed US citizens have been selected to be part of the 2019 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 seven institutions that have for the first time produced a Gates Cambridge Scholar (Bob Jones University, SC; Hillsborough Community College, FL; Loyola Marymount University, CA; Medical University of South Carolina, SC; Northeast Normal University, China; Shalom Hartman Institute, Israel; The City College of New York, NY; and the University of Scranton, PA).

They include:

  • Gregory Serapio-Garcia, who will do a PhD in Psychology. Gregory, who did his undergraduate studies at the University of Notre Dame, will synthesise mobile-sensing and personality data to predict mental illness outcomes and subjective well-being. He hopes to help automate lengthy mental health assessments through computational analyses of social media big data. He says: “I hope to inform the next generation of the world’s best physicians, lawyers, philosophers and educators of both the promise of online social data in transforming mental healthcare and the moral imperative to combat the exploitative use of big data in this proliferating field.”

  • Anna Forringer-Beal who will do a PhD in Gender Studies.  She completed her master’s at Cambridge where she explored how stereotypes about immigrants and sex workers impact data gathering, victim assistance and have limited the scope of the UK Modern Slavery Act of 2015. For her PhD she will construct a genealogy of anti-trafficking law stretching back to the White Slave Panics of the late 1800s with the aim of showing how xenophobic thinking constrains their effectiveness. She states: “It is my hope that this work will refocus anti-trafficking policy to human rights and survivor support as the most effective tools in combating trafficking.”

  • Dhruv Nandamudi who will do a PhD in Biological Science. Dhruv did his undergraduate studies at Yale where he was director of the Yale Wellness Project and helped design and conduct a large-scale study aimed at better understanding the role of stress in student life and lessening its negative impact. Through a combination of neuroimaging and molecular paradigms, his PhD will focus on exploring the neuroscientific relationship between stress and memory control or ‘motivated forgetting’ where people forget unwanted memories, either consciously or unconsciously. He says: “My goal is to better understand the mechanisms guiding the interaction between stress and motivated forgetting in an effort to inform potential treatment methodologies for psychological disorders by enhancing cognitive emotion regulation.”

The US Scholars-elect will study and research subjects ranging from cybersecurity and choral music to technology biases and skeletal stem cells.

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 1,600 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 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 about 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 2019. The class of 2019 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: “The Trust is delighted to have awarded Gates Cambridge Scholarships to outstanding students from the USA in the first of its two selection rounds for entry in 2019. 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. Like their predecessors, they 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 a multitude of ways. We are particularly delighted that we were able to offer awards to a large number of PhD scholars.  We are sure that the entire class of 2019 will flourish in the vibrant, international community at Cambridge as Gates Cambridge Scholars 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  

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