Yale senior and alumnus are named Gates-Cambridge Scholars

Yale senior Fernando Rojas and alumnus Dhruv Nandamudi are among 34 Americans selected as 2019 Gates Cambridge Scholars at the University of Cambridge.

The U.S. scholars-elect will study and research subjects ranging from cybersecurity to choral music to technology biases to neurotrauma in low-resource settings.

The prestigious postgraduate scholarship program fully funds postgraduate study and research in any subject at the University of Cambridge. It was established through a $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 university in the United Kingdom. In addition to outstanding academic achievement the program 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 U.S. 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. The class of 2019 will join current Gates Cambridge Scholars in October to form a community of approximately 220 Scholars in residence at the University of Cambridge.

Professor Barry Everitt, 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 U.S. 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 Ph.D. 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.”

Fernando Rojas

Fernando Rojas
Fernando Rojas

At King’s College, University of Cambridge, Rojas will work toward an M.Phil. in Latin American studies. At Yale, he has studied the history of relations between the United States and Mexico in the 20th century, focusing particularly on the movement of people and ideas during the early decades of the century and the Cold War years. By highlighting the historical fluctuations in migration, he hopes to frame current conversations about migrations across borderlands. To connect his research with broader audiences, he has worked in a variety of museum spaces. In the summer of 2016, he developed a temporary exhibit about the segregation of Mexican children in 1920 in Topeka, Kansas. In his junior year, he was one of only 20 college juniors nationwide to win a Beinecke Scholarship.

At Cambridge, I will interrogate Mexico’s cultural response to decolonization movements around the world during the 1960s and 1970s,” says Rojas. “While scholars have written about the cultural exchange between countries like Cuba, South Africa, and Vietnam during decolonization, it is necessary to continue this dialog to include more movements.”

Rojas will graduate in May with a B.A. and M.A. in history.

Dhruv Nandamudi

Dhruv Nandamudi
Dhruv Nandamudi

At Downing College, University of Cambridge, Nandamudi will work toward a Ph.D. in biological science at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit (CBU). As an undergraduate researcher at Yale’s Center for Emotional Intelligence and the Clinical and Affective Disorder Lab, he became interested in exploring the impact of psychosocial stress on neurological subsystems. As director of the Yale Wellness Project, he helped design and conduct a large-scale study aimed at better understanding the role of targeted interventional efforts.

At Cambridge’s MRC CBU, my Ph.D. will focus on exploring the neuroscientific relationship between stress and memory control, or, more broadly, motivated forgetting, through a combination of neuroimaging and molecular paradigms. Form a clinical standpoint, memory control as such refers to a cognitive process that involves the active suppression of emotionally valent memories in response to environmental triggers, and thereby constitutes a barrier to negative affective states. This bears particular relevance to mental health science for the clinical treatment of mood and anxiety-related disorders. 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.”

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 U.S.) and more than 80 academic departments and all 31 colleges at Cambridge.

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