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Jascha Achterberg

  • Scholar
  • 2019
  • Germany
  • PhD Medical Science at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit
  • St John's College
Jascha Achterberg

Jascha Achterberg

  • Scholar
  • 2019
  • Germany
  • PhD Medical Science at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit
  • St John's College

One of the most uniquely human capabilities may be the general ability of dealing with novel situations and complex problems. In my PhD I will explore how this ability, commonly referred to as fluid intelligence, happens in brains and could be implemented in machines.


I have always been interested in understanding the complex systems of everyday life from a quantitative point of view and hence decided to study the psychology of markets when doing my undergraduate in Osnabrück, Germany. It was at that time that I developed a fascination for human decision making and behavioural economics which lead me to join the Policy Research Group at Cambridge’s Department of Psychology. Even though I enjoyed our work there, using behavioural research methods to design evidence based policy interventions, I started to be more interested in the neuronal mechanisms behind human decision making – namely, how do we extract and process complex information in the first place? Therefore, I joined the MRC Cognition and Brain Science Unit towards the end of my undergraduate. Here I remained ever since and explored how one can understand high level phenomena (decision making / intelligence) and their underlying neural code. The two phenomena I am especially interested in are compositional problem solving and rapid one-shot-learning. 


Outside the lab I enjoy making music (being a trumpeter and guitarist myself) as well as long distance running. I also co-founded and serve on the board of organisations fostering sustainable community development in South African townships.

Previous Education

Osnabr Business Psychology 2019

Tovah Ackerman

  • Alumni
  • 2011
  • United States
  • MPhil Criminology
  • Queens' College
Tovah Ackerman

Tovah Ackerman

  • Alumni
  • 2011
  • United States
  • MPhil Criminology
  • Queens' College

I am honored to be studying criminology in Cambridge. I am particularly interested in narratives of criminality, particularly the dehumanizing rhetoric used to describe criminals in the U.S., e.g. calling them monsters, scum, beasts, etc. In my experience such language is often followed by espoused support for harsh punishment. I am curious whether a similar narrative of criminality exists in the U.K. and, if so, how such a narrative might relate to a national attitude on criminal punishment. I will be applying this year to PhD programs in the US and eventually would like to teach, research, and stay involved in non-profit prison reform organizations.

Aniko Adam

  • Alumni
  • 2006
  • Hungary
  • BAaff Law
  • Homerton College
Aniko Adam

Aniko Adam

  • Alumni
  • 2006
  • Hungary
  • BAaff Law
  • Homerton College

I was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary but moved to Canada to undertake a B.A. in Economics and International Relations. I studied law at Cambridge. I then completed the Legal Practice Course in London and currently work as a solicitor in the Antitrust, Competition and Economic Regulation team at Hogan Lovells International LLP in London.

Previous Education

University of British Columbia BA Economics and International Relations 2006
American International School, Budapest IBO (International Baccalaureate Dip.) 1999
Lycée Français de Budapest, Hungary DALF (Diplome Approfondi de langue Française)

Andra Adams

  • Alumni
  • 2010
  • Canada
  • PhD Computer Science
  • Emmanuel College
Andra Adams

Andra Adams

  • Alumni
  • 2010
  • Canada
  • PhD Computer Science
  • Emmanuel College

I'm currently pursuing a PhD in Computer Science in the Emotionally Intelligent Interfaces research group of the Computer Laboratory. My research focuses on applying affective computing and social robotics in an intervention for children with autism spectrum conditions. Specifically, I'm using a highly-realistic robotic head to facilitate emotion recognition from facial expressions. I love travelling and hiking, and am looking forward to another year of exploring the incredible trails in the UK and throughout Europe.

Matthew Adams

  • Alumni
  • 2002
  • United States
  • MPhil Engineering
  • Pembroke College
Matthew Adams

Matthew Adams

  • Alumni
  • 2002
  • United States
  • MPhil Engineering
  • Pembroke College

Ryan Adams

  • Alumni
  • 2004
  • United States
  • PhD Physics
  • St John's College
Ryan Adams

Ryan Adams

  • Alumni
  • 2004
  • United States
  • PhD Physics
  • St John's College

Although I am perfoming my PhD work in the Physics Department at the Cavendish Laboratory, my primary research is in Statistical Machine Learning, a sub-field of Artificial Intelligence. I study the mathematical properties of collections of independent adaptive entities, using Bayesian statistical techniques. I believe that this approach to AI has far-reaching implications both for understanding the brain and for the long-term development of machine intelligence.

Adewale Adebanwi

  • Alumni
  • 2003
  • Nigeria
  • PhD Social Anthropology
  • Trinity Hall
Adewale Adebanwi

Adewale Adebanwi

  • Alumni
  • 2003
  • Nigeria
  • PhD Social Anthropology
  • Trinity Hall

As a student of the society, I hope to help in mobilizing the intellectual resources for the creation of a better world.

Wendi Adelson

  • Alumni
  • 2002
  • United States
  • MPhil International Relations
  • Hughes Hall
Wendi Adelson

Wendi Adelson

  • Alumni
  • 2002
  • United States
  • MPhil International Relations
  • Hughes Hall

Victoria Adesanya

  • Alumni
  • 2010
  • Nigeria
  • MPhil Advanced Chemical Engineering Practice
    PhD Engineering
  • Queens' College
Victoria Adesanya

Victoria Adesanya

  • Alumni
  • 2010
  • Nigeria
  • MPhil Advanced Chemical Engineering Practice
    PhD Engineering
  • Queens' College

I obtained an MPhil in Advanced Chemical Engineering at Cambridge in 20010 and I am currently studying for a PhD in Engineering. The rising global energy demand coupled with the need to reduce carbon emissions call for research, development and commercialisation of low-cost and efficient renewable energy resources. My research is focused on the study and modelling of light conditions in photobioreactors. This is relevant to the optimisation of growth conditions of algae for large scale production of biofuels. After my PhD I hope to work where I can apply my knowledge and skills to the development of clean energy technologies. I hope to work on cutting-edge projects and to gain a chartered engineer status. My long term plan is to be in a position where I can positively influence government policies on energy and the environment.

Alexandra Adler

  • Alumni
  • 2007
  • United States
  • MPhil Biological Science (Physiology)
  • Clare College
Alexandra Adler

Alexandra Adler

  • Alumni
  • 2007
  • United States
  • MPhil Biological Science (Physiology)
  • Clare College

For many years, I have been fascinated by the physiology of the heart and have strived, through research, to better understand how this amazing organ works. As a member of the Giussani lab at Cambridge, I am studying how adverse conditions in fetal life may alter the development of the fetal heart and predispose it to disease in adulthood. A better understanding of this process will provide insight into the prevention of heart disease. I am fascinated by both this research and its potential applications. Heart disease is rapidly becoming a threat to health worldwide and in the future, I hope to contribute to the development of better, more efficient therapeutics for this devastating disease. Outside the lab, I am looking forward to playing music in Clare College, learning to row and meeting new people.

Alice Adriaenssens

  • Alumni
  • 2009
  • United States
  • PhD Clinical Biochemistry
  • Churchill College
Alice Adriaenssens

Alice Adriaenssens

  • Alumni
  • 2009
  • United States
  • PhD Clinical Biochemistry
  • Churchill College

I recently graduated from the University of California, Davis with a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. With the generous help of the Gates Cambridge Trust, I am entering my third year in the four year PhD program in Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disease at the Institute of Metabolic Science. My PhD project will focus on the molecular basis of the incretin effect. Specifically, I will be using various imaging techniques to analyze the nutrient sensing capabilities of intestinal enteroendocrine cells, as well as the vesicle dynamics of incretin hormones. Hopefully, by understanding the intricacies of stimulus-secretion coupling mechanisms in intestinal enteroendocrine cells we will be closer to harnessing the incretin effect in therapies aimed at improving the glucose tolerance of patients with type 2 diabetes.

Shazia Afzal

  • Alumni
  • 2006
  • India
  • PhD Computer Science
  • Murray Edwards College (New Hall)
Shazia Afzal

Shazia Afzal

  • Alumni
  • 2006
  • India
  • PhD Computer Science
  • Murray Edwards College (New Hall)

The pulse of being in one of the most prestigious seats of learning leaves you in awe. The academic culture is exemplary and I consider it a privilege to be here. I expect my time here to prove to be one of the most remarkable and rewarding experiences.

Harish Agarwal

  • Alumni
  • 2002
  • United States
  • MPhil Physics
  • Churchill College
Harish Agarwal

Harish Agarwal

  • Alumni
  • 2002
  • United States
  • MPhil Physics
  • Churchill College

Heather Agnew

  • Alumni
  • 2003
  • United States
  • MPhil Chemistry
  • Girton College
Heather Agnew

Heather Agnew

  • Alumni
  • 2003
  • United States
  • MPhil Chemistry
  • Girton College

Most clinical technologies for detecting protein biomarkers are antibody based. As an alternative approach, my research focuses on the development of protein-catalyzed capture agents (PCCs) – compounds that possess the affinities and specificities of antibodies, but also are highly stable on the shelf and in vivo. PCCs are selected for specific binding through synthetic combinatorial peptide library methodologies that make use of the target protein as the catalyst for assembling a multivalent ligand. We are exploiting the small size, low cost, and rapid synthesis of PCCs to monitor biomarkers to detect cancer and other serious diseases.

Sinead Agnew

  • Alumni
  • 2003
  • Ireland
  • MPhil Economic & Social History
  • Pembroke College
Sinead Agnew

Sinead Agnew

  • Alumni
  • 2003
  • Ireland
  • MPhil Economic & Social History
  • Pembroke College

Nicholas Ahamed

  • Alumni
  • 2017
  • United States
  • MPhil International Relations and Politics
  • St John's College
Nicholas Ahamed

Nicholas Ahamed

  • Alumni
  • 2017
  • United States
  • MPhil International Relations and Politics
  • St John's College

As a Muslim in post-9/11 America, my loyalties are constantly questioned. The bigotry I have faced demonstrates to me the inequalities still prevalent in the America. All too aware of these, my research at Stanford University focused on bringing rigorous methodologies to questions of politics, race and voting. My thesis examining Islamophobia in America synthesized the lessons of my Bachelors of Arts in Political Science and my minor in Statistics. Subsequently, I served as a data scientist at Civis Analytics where I provided data-driven strategic recommendations and targeting guidance to PACs in the 2016 election. As a Gates Cambridge Scholar, I hope to tie these experiences together to better understand voting. I would like to develop an election-specific, individual-level measure of voter turnout that accurately predicts the likelihood that an individual will cast a ballot. Not only will this research improve our theory of voting, but also better enable political practitioners to identify those citizens who need a push to vote. When organizations transform more non-voters into voters, our elections are more vibrant and our democracy is better off for it.

Previous Education

Stanford University

Sara Ahmadi-Abhari

  • Alumni
  • 2010
  • Iran, Islamic Republic of
  • MPhil Epidemiology
    PhD Public Health and Primary Care
  • Trinity College
Sara Ahmadi-Abhari

Sara Ahmadi-Abhari

  • Alumni
  • 2010
  • Iran, Islamic Republic of
  • MPhil Epidemiology
    PhD Public Health and Primary Care
  • Trinity College

I came to Cambridge in 2009 to study for the MPhil and then PhD in epidemiology. I hold an MD degree in medicine from Tehran University and prior to attending Cambridge University worked on a GFATM funded Malaria control project at the United Nations Development Programme office in Iran. Upon completion of my studies at Cambridge, I joined UCL and worked on a public health modelling project to forecast the burden of cardiovascular disease, dementia and disability over the next 25 years in the UK and four European countries, to measure the impact of public health policies and interventions on these outcomes. I then joined Imperial College London to continue my research on dementia.

Salman Ahmed

  • Alumni
  • 2003
  • Pakistan
  • PhD Economics
  • Christ's College
Salman Ahmed

Salman Ahmed

  • Alumni
  • 2003
  • Pakistan
  • PhD Economics
  • Christ's College