Lucy Cavendish to welcome four Gates Cambridge Scholars in the autumn

19 April 2017

The Gates Cambridge Class of 2017 was announced this week and Lucy Cavendish will be delighted to welcome four of the 90 new Gates Scholars in the autumn.

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. Scholarships were awarded to 50 women and 40 men from a wide range of backgrounds. Forty-one will study for a master's degree and 49 will pursue a PhD. Competition for the Scholarships is fierce; the 90 scholars were selected from a total pool of around 6,000 applicants.

PhD scholar Erica Cao will join Lucy Cavendish to study music. Erica cross-pollinates between the arts and sciences, theory and practice, and across cultures. A daughter of immigrants from post-Cultural Revolution China, in America she had the freedom to pursue music and the arts while remaining curious about the science she grew up with. As she engaged in her studies first at Princeton in Psychology and Music Performance, then an MPhil in Music Studies at Cambridge, followed by medical school at Columbia University, she witnessed both the stories and theories of how music impacts lives like her own and the students and children she knew. She's excited about implementing interventions and programmes which bring out music's ability to affect human functioning and build community, while engaging in the new ideas behind music as a form of communication and oral history. She believes in the power of music in aiding neuropsychiatric disorders, in reconciliation and understanding between communities, and in reshaping our institutions and cultures towards civil society. Music, like communities such as Gates, showed her who she was as an individual while remaining grounded in a shared humanity.

MPhil scholar Sarita Deshpande will join us from the Unites States to study Medical Science at the Department of Clinical Neurosciences. She said:

“I am currently studying bioengineering with a concentration in cellular and tissue engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago. As an undergraduate student, I have engaged myself in neuroscience and bioengineering research, which has fostered my passion to study ocular pathology in the scope of neuroscience. During my MPhil in Medical Sciences at Cambridge, I will study the aetiology of glaucoma and the mechanisms of cell death, which can provide further insight into developing novel therapeutic options. I am honoured and excited to join the dynamic group of scholars that make up the Gates Cambridge community.”

Sandile Mtetwa will study a PhD in Chemistry. She said:

“A passionate and enthusiastic young scientist, I attained my BSc Honors in Chemistry degree at the University of Zimbabwe with a First Class Honors.My interest in science started in my early secondary school years when I wanted to find a cure for tuberculosis.However, my niche in science research changed as I grew older and I became interested in the area of renewable energy, particularly solar driven hydrogen evolution, where hydrogen can be used as a clean and renewable energy alternative. At the University of Cambridge I will be working on enhancing the properties of stability, performance and tactability of photo active materials used in the photocatalysis process of harnessing clean energy. These photoactive materials as nanoparticles will be used to create nanoparticle support based composites with MOF's. This composite will enhance the charge carrier lifetime of the photoactive nanomaterials thereby increasing power generation, this being highly relevant in the solar energy industry. This work will be my contribution towards the sustainable development goal of energy as well as industry and my goal is to power the world! Apart from the academics, I am also heavily involved in civic engagement. I am the Founder of a Trust in Zimbabwe (Simuka-Arise Initiative). The Trust's aim is to empower young women academically, socially and economically. By being a Gates Scholar, I hope to be an inspiration to young women especially those in Africa pursuing science related careers.”

Noor Shahzad will join us from Pakistan to study a PhD in History. She said:

“I am broadly interested in literary cultures, reading practices and the conditions in which texts are consumed and circulated. My undergraduate research at Lahore University of Management Sciences has focused on the affective space that Urdu women's digests provide to women. Through an MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies I look forward to further investigating these digests. My research aims to examine the continuities and discontinuities in discourses on women's reform in Urdu literature. I am deeply honored to be joining the Gates Cambridge community and look forward to learning from and contributing to such a diverse group of scholars.”

Bill Gates, co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said:

"Gates Cambridge Scholars come from all over the world, but they have some important things in common: great leadership potential, a commitment to improving the lives of others and an unparalleled passion for learning. Melinda and I are pleased to welcome the class of 2017. We have no doubt they will have an incredible impact on topics of global importance."

Cambridge Vice-Chancellor and Chair of the Gates Cambridge Board of Trustees, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, recognised the transformative nature of the Gates Cambridge programme and its excellent fit with the University. He said:

"Cambridge is a global university and the Gates Cambridge programme epitomises both its international, outward-looking nature and its mission to tackle global challenges and to improve the lives of others. I am delighted that the programme is thriving and having the impact that both the University and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation hoped it would. The selection of another intake of outstanding young Scholars shows philanthropy and education at their most transformative."

More information on the programme is available to view here:

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