The Gates Cambridge Scholarship is one of the world's most sought after awards. The scholarship programme was established in 2000 after the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation donated $210 million to the University of Cambridge to fund an international postgraduate scholarship programme for students who are both academically outstanding and show a strong commitment to improving the lives of others. It remains the largest single donation to a UK university.
The Scholars-elect fully meet the aspiration of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s generous and historic gift to the University of Cambridge. This year's selection process has taken place against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic which more than ever shows the vital need to bring together from around the world the most brilliant minds from the most diverse backgrounds to work on global challenges.Professor Barry Everitt Provost (CEO) of the Gates Cambridge Trust
Since the first cohort of Gates Cambridge Scholars in 2001, over 1,700 scholars have been selected from over 100 countries. This year’s cohort of 77 Scholars - the Class of 2020 - includes citizens from 30 different countries.
Eighty per cent of the scholars-elect will pursue PhDs and their subjects range from the impact of climate change on coastal birds and rabies control to indigenous rights in New Zealand, the history of uncertainty in polar climate science and the moral basis of identity-based harm.
Although the scholarship has been in existence for less than two decades, there are now over 1,500 alumni across the world already making an impact in all areas of human endeavour. They include engineering alumna Kayla Barron, who recently graduated from NASA’s astronaut training programme and is one of a growing cadre of female astronauts who are vying to become the first woman to set foot on the Moon.
Stephen Toope, the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge and Chair of the Gates Cambridge Trustees, said: “The Gates Cambridge Scholars are an outstanding group of people. They have not only demonstrated exceptional academic abilities in their fields, but have also shown a real commitment to engaging with the world – and to changing it for the better. They truly embody the values our University cherishes – excellence, a global outlook and an aspiration to contribute to society, values that are needed more than ever at this terrible time.”
This year's cohort includes:
Lyndie Zollinger, who will do a PhD in Engineering.
Raised in Utah, she took one and a half years away from her studies to be a missionary.
Lyndie’s interest in studying medical challenges from a mechanical perspective was ignited after she suffered an accident in class which injured her leg.
Her research projects have included an assistive diaphragm for cystic fibrosis patients at MIT and an implantable sensor for the brain at the University of Auckland. For her PhD she will focus on knee force loading in everyday activities and its effects on knee damage and injuries using image analysis techniques and mechanical modeling.
She says: “This will enable the use of simpler data acquisition devices to understand, characterise and predict various ailments of the knee in day-to-day activities.”
Cole Replogle, who will do a MRes and PhD in Future Propulsion and Power
Cole was born and raised in northeastern Oklahoma and continued to Oklahoma State University studying Aerospace Engineering. He will graduate in May 2020 with bachelor's degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Aerospace Engineering. He has researched hybrid-electric propulsion for unmanned aircraft at OSU and looks forward to further developing sustainable aircraft propulsion at Cambridge through completing a MRes and PhD in Future Propulsion and Power.
He was involved with the OSU chapter of Engineers Without Borders which introduced him to an international dimension of engineering development.
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 Gates Cambridge experience
In addition to the quality of scholars, the focus on social leadership and the generosity of the programme, what makes Gates Cambridge stand out is its focus on community. The Gates Cambridge Scholars Council is a scholar-led body that provides professional, academic and personal support to scholars and their families.
Andrea Kusec, the President of the Council said: "The Scholars Council is formed of diverse and passionate individuals that aim to enhance the Cambridge experience for Gates Scholars. The Council organises events that focus on personal interests of scholars such as socials, cultural celebrations, and opportunities to share and disseminate their research, but we also provide outward-focused events such as public engagement opportunities and volunteering with local charities.
“We aim to offer scholars academic and professional skills training, while striving to help scholars feel supported, welcome, and part of something truly unique throughout their time here in Cambridge. We very much wish for scholars to always feel part of our global network, and to come together as change-driven leaders for the wellbeing of the world."
The sense of community is extended after graduation through the Gates Cambridge Alumni Association which organises events and meet-ups around the world such as the annual Gates Cambridge Alumni Symposium and Gates Cambridge Memorial Lecture, as well as online 'Careers in Academia' alumni panels. This year’s Lauren Zeitels keynote speaker was Dr Leana Wen, an emergency physician, public health leader and passionate advocate for patient-centred healthcare reform.
Professor Barry Everitt FRS FMedSci ScD, Provost (CEO) of the Gates Cambridge Trust, said: "The Scholars-elect fully meet the aspiration of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s generous and historic gift to the University of Cambridge. This year's selection process has taken place against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic which more than ever shows the vital need to bring together from around the world the most brilliant minds from the most diverse backgrounds to work on global challenges.
"This year's cohort, like its predecessors, is an impressive group of individuals who have already made their mark in their academic studies and demonstrated strong leadership qualities.We are particularly delighted that we were able to offer awards to a large number of PhD scholars. We are certain that our 2020 Gates Cambridge cohort will flourish in the vibrant, international community at Cambridge and go on to make a significant impact in their fields and the wider global community."
For full details of all of this year’s new scholars, can be found on the Gates Cambridge website.