Two Yale College alumni selected as Gates Cambridge Scholars
Hallie Gaitsch and Clara Ma, both members of the Yale College Class of 2019, are among 24 U.S. citizens who have been named 2021 Gates Cambridge Scholars.
The scholarship, given every year to approximately 80 students from around the world, covers the full cost of attendance at the University of Cambridge for students pursuing a full-time postgraduate degree. Gaitsch and Ma were chosen in the U.S. round of the awards, typically given to about 25 students, while the rest are awarded to students from other parts of the world, outside of the United Kingdom.
The scholarships were established in 2000 with a $210 million donation by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest-ever single gift to a U.K. university. The scholars are chosen for their outstanding intellectual ability, a commitment to improving the lives of others, leadership potential, and their choice of coursework.
Gaitsch will pursue a Ph.D. in clinical neurosciences. While pursuing a B.S. in molecular, cellular, and developmental biology at Yale, she worked on a variety of research projects spanning the fields of computational genomics, viral pathogenesis, immunology, and neuroscience. She entered medical school as a student in the Johns Hopkins Scientist Training Program, where she pursued her interests in infectious and immune-mediated disorders of the central nervous system.
At the University of Cambridge, she will undertake a collaborative project between the U.S. National Institutes of Health and Cambridge focusing on using remyelination biology and spatiotemporal modeling of multiple sclerosis lesion development to create a method for effectively assessing myelin protection and regeneration. She will also investigate the underlying processes that contribute to neuroinflammatory pathology and demyelination and neurodegeneration, including those related to environmental, infectious, and autoimmune factors. She expects to complete her M.D. at Johns Hopkins in 2027.
Ma, who will complete her study of global affairs this year as a Schwarzman Scholar at Tsinghua University in China, will pursue a Ph.D. in land economy. Her doctoral research will compare the low-carbon energy transformations of China and India — two of the world’s largest carbon dioxide emitters — through the lens of clean-energy access and development. She hopes through her research to improve policymakers’ understanding of the challenges associated with rural electrification as well as with the decarbonization of the power supply in these two countries.
She will also work on the Economics of Energy Innovation and System Transition project — a three-year project funded by the U.K.’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation — helping to develop empirically validated modeling tools to assess the impacts of energy and technology-related projects on the clean-energy transitions in China, India, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. She previously studied public policy at the University of Cambridge.
“I am delighted for Hallie and Clara. This is an awesome recognition of their significant achievements,” said Rebekah Westphal, director of the Office of Fellowship Programs and an assistant dean of Yale College. “The Gates Cambridge is a wonderful fellowship because it supports leaders in their fields who are committed to improving the lives of others.”
Future applicants for the scholarship may work with the Office of Fellowship Programs for application advice and practice interviews.