Gates Cambridge Class of 2018 announced

The Gates Cambridge Trust is delighted to announce 92 new Gates Cambridge Scholars.

The Gates Cambridge scholarships are a perfect fit with the mission of the University – to make a real and significant contribution to society. The class of 2018 is a perfect example of the commitment to excellence and to leadership in the service of society that Gates Cambridge scholars exemplify.

Professor Stephen Toope

Ninety-two of the most academically exceptional and socially committed people from across the globe have been selected as Gates Cambridge Scholars - the University of Cambridge's most prestigious international postgraduate scholarship.

The new Scholars, who will take up their generous scholarships in the autumn, are a very diverse group, representing 28 nationalities. Forty three are male and 49 female. They include the first Scholars from Gambia, Georgia and Morocco.

Sixty-six will pursue a PhD and 26 will study for a master's degree. The subjects being studied range from anthrax in cattle, multi-protein complexes and Argentinian cinema to how Syrian refugees negotiate their temporary status.

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship aims to identify and select applicants who are academically outstanding and are likely to be transformative leaders across all fields of endeavour.

Competition for the Scholarships is fierce. The 92 new Scholars were selected from a total pool of 5,798 applicants on the basis of their intellectual ability, commitment to improving the lives of others, leadership potential and academic fit with Cambridge. Departments in Cambridge nominated 423 candidates for the Scholarships and, of these, 201 were interviewed in the US and Cambridge by four panels of interviewers drawn from across the University.

Cambridge Vice-Chancellor and Chair of the Gates Cambridge Board of Trustees, Professor Stephen Toope, recognised the transformative nature of the Gates Cambridge programme and its excellent fit with the University. He said: "The Gates Cambridge scholarships are a perfect fit with the mission of the University – to make a real and significant contribution to society. They attract some of the best students from all over the world and from the most diverse backgrounds, and sustain a global network of leaders who will integrate the university’s values into everything they do. The class of 2018, including bright scholars from 28 nationalities, is a perfect example of the commitment to excellence and to leadership in the service of society that Gates Cambridge scholars exemplify.”

The new Scholars include:

- Valentina Ndolo from Kenya who will do a PhD in Veterinary Medicine, studying the occurrence patterns in Kenya of anthrax, a life-threatening infection commonly found in animals. She says: "Anthrax threatens food security and the economic productivity of Kenya. My study will apply mathematical modelling to develop risk maps to guide the activities of the government and other stakeholders involved in the control of anthrax in Kenya." Valentina has also founded the STEMing Africa Initiative to advocate for the active inclusion of women in STEM by supporting talented female graduates in STEM to secure scholarships for advanced degrees at leading universities worldwide. The initiative has won funding from UNESCO and the Forum for African Women Educationalists among others.

- Chris van Hooren, from the Netherlands, who will do a PhD in Biological Sciences and will study the structure of “two-legged” proteins that can physically walk along fibres inside human cells.  This will build on his master's research where he has been focusing on an approach that has only recently become possible – to study the structure of multi-protein complexes by cryo-electron microscopy. He says: "Visualising the structure of these large molecular machines is fascinating and can considerably aid drug development for     disease-causing protein variants." Chris is also a human rights activist.

- Erin Williamson, from the US, who will do a PhD in Social Anthropology. She will begin an ethnographic study of time and the value of hope among refugees and asylum seekers of Syrian origin. She says: “It is by focusing on the values of hope and the ideal good life that I expect some insight can be gained which situates refugees not as political nor as suffering strangers, but as morally evaluative humans distinctly and deeply informed by their unique cultural experiences.”  Erin set up a course on refugees at her university in the aftermath of Donald Trump's travel ban on refugees.

- Sharad Pandian, from Singapore, who will do an MPhil in History, Philosophy and Sociology of Science, Technology and Medicine. He says: "I am particularly interested in how developments in mathematical techniques, the invention of instruments, metaphysical speculation, and the discovery of facts in neighbouring fields came together to produce scientific progress and understanding." While he was an undergraduate, Sharad founded a Philosophy Society, helped run TEDxNTU and co-founded NTU World of Wisdom, a student-run think tank. He also served as the first General Secretary of the university's diversity club, NTU Kaleidoscope.

- Andrea Aramburu Villavisencio, from Argentina, who will do a PhD in Latin American Studies.  She will examine the complex interactions between disruptive kinships, affect and aesthetics in the feature films of Argentinian filmmakers Lucrecia Martel and Milagros Mumenthaler.  She says: "I am especially interested in asking how these films open up a broader critique concerning how we live together." For the last three years she has been actively engaged in several film projects, co-writing the script for the 2015 film El disfraz equivocado, which won the national short film contest in Peru and was shown at the Short Film Corner in Cannes.

Professor Barry Everitt, Provost of the Gates Cambridge Trust, said: “We are delighted with the exceptional quality of applications for the Gates Cambridge programme for 2018 entry. The Trust has selected 92 excellent Scholars from a wide range of backgrounds to pursue their graduate studies at Cambridge and we very much look forward to welcoming them to Cambridge and the Gates Cambridge community in October.”

Read a feature article about the class of 2018 on the University's website here

View the bios of all 92 new Scholars here.