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International Gates Cambridge Scholars for 2017 announced

Alicia Stevens from Columbia University, Christine Mbai from the University of Nairobi and Michael Pashkevick from Loyola University will join Jesus College later this year.

They are three of the 90 students selected to be part of the 2017 class of Gates Cambridge Scholars at the University of Cambridge. The prestigious postgraduate scholarship programme was established through a US$210 million donation to the University from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000. 

Alicia’s PhD work in Archaeological Heritage and Museums looks at differing discourses of cultural heritage in Myanmar after sanctions and what they tell us about community uses of heritage in recovery, identity, and remembrance.

Alicia said: “Believing that engagement is more effective than embargo, I traveled to Myanmar (Burma) under military rule and international sanctions to promote the protection of the country’s natural and cultural resources, working for the American Museum of Natural History and in collaboration with the United Nations Office of the Secretary-General. At the University of Cambridge, my PhD work in Archaeological Heritage and Museums looks at differing discourses of cultural heritage in Myanmar after sanctions and what they tell us about community uses of heritage in recovery, identity, and remembrance. My research also examines international interventions in Myanmar’s vulnerable post-sanctions period, where decisions about cultural heritage preservation and protection are taking place amidst pressure for rapid economic development.” 

Christine will pursue a PhD in Architecture with a focus on climate responsive design attributes in the tropics, particularly in Zanzibar.

Christine commented: “With continued climate change, buildings will need to mitigate and adapt without necessarily increasing their energy consumption. Correlation between design parameters and material specifications with the internal environments architects create, in terms of human comfort is fundamental in achieving habitable conditions in buildings, without mechanical systems, most of which have high energy loads and carbon emissions contributing to global warming. I will investigate the dichotomies of embracing new technologies and traditional constructions in a bid to postulate a low carbon contemporary architecture addressing occupant comfort, health and associated productivity. I am indeed grateful to continue being part of the Gates Cambridge community.”

Michael will pursue a PhD in Zoology to investigate the role of spiders in Southeast Asian oil palm plantations and how riparian margin restoration within plantations affects spider biodiversity and behaviour.

He said: “My aim is to advance understandings of spider ecology, the management of biodiversity in tropical agricultural systems and the public’s relationship with historically disfavoured animals.” Michael plans to use citizen science for his research, engaging UK and Indonesian communities.

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.”

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