Three Indians are among 90 Gates Cambridge scholars selected from nearly 6,000 applicants from around the world for postgraduate study at the University of Cambridge from the academic year beginning later this year.
The three Indians in the Gates Cambridge Class of 2017 are Yaikhomba Mutum, Saloni Atal and Akhila Denduluri, the university announced on Monday. The 90 scholars, including 35 from the US, together represent 34 nationalities.
Atal will study PhD in Psychology, exploring innovative and culturally appropriate solutions to tackle the problem of gaps in access to mental healthcare in India. In partnership with local non-profit organisations, her PhD will assess the impact and feasibility of training non-specialists, particularly community health workers, to support the mental health needs of slum-dwelling women.
Denduluri’s PhD research in Chemistry will focus on developing biophysical tools to better understand and elucidate the protein chemistry and associated toxicity in neurodegenerative diseases.
Mutum will pursue a PhD Biological Science at the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit, looking at the mechanism of active proton transport in Complex I, an enzyme involved in making energy rich ATP molecules. Its dysfunction causes neuromuscular diseases like the Leigh’s syndrome.
The new scholars include Leena Dahal from Nepal who will pursue an MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies to explore identity and intersectionality in the context of South Asia, specifically how social media helped or hindered nuanced discussion of nationalism and identity in response to the 2015 unofficial border blockade between Nepal and India.
The prestigious and fiercely competitive scholarships were awarded to 50 women and 40 men from a wide range of backgrounds. A total of 41 students will pursue a master’s degree and 49 will pursue PhDs.
The scholarship aims to identify and select applicants who are academically outstanding and are likely to be transformative leaders across all fields.
Bill Gates, co-chair of the 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.”
Cambridge vice-chancellor and chair of the Gates Cambridge Board of Trustees, Leszek Borysiewicz, 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”.