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Four Northwestern Students Receive Gates Scholarships

February 10, 2006

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Four Northwestern University students — two current seniors and two 2005 graduates — are among the 40 Gates Cambridge Scholars selected this year.

Students Laura Hughes and Rachel Pike and graduates Ben Gross and Thomas Johnson III are among 40 American students selected from more than 550 applicants. They will receive full funding for a year of post-graduate study at the University of Cambridge in England. Northwestern had more recipients than any other institution except for Princeton University.

Laura Hughes, senior in chemistry, will combine classes on drug development, enzymes and nanotechnology with practical laboratory experience modeling drug-protein reactions while at Cambridge. A winner of a 2005 Goldwater Scholarship, Hughes’s chemistry research has been supported by a Northwestern Undergraduate Research Grant.

Rachel Pike, senior in chemistry with a minor in African studies, will research physical and analytical chemistry as related to climate change. She currently analyzes trace gases and particulates in the laboratory of Franz Geiger, assistant professor of chemistry. Last year she studied abroad in Tanzania, working with the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy.

Ben Gross will study the theory and practice of punishment in the Institute of Criminology at Cambridge. Gross graduated from Northwestern in 2005 with a degree in philosophy. After graduation, he worked at the Fortune Society, which is a non-profit prison advocacy and education group for former inmates. He hopes to apply the findings of philosophical inquiry to the American criminal justice system.

Thomas V. Johnson III will conduct research in the use of stem cells to regenerate the optic nerve in glaucoma with Professor Keith Martin at the Centre for Brain Repair at Cambridge. Johnson graduated summa cum laude from Northwestern in 2005 in biological sciences with a concentration in neurobiology. He is currently researching exfoliation syndrome at the University of Nebraska Medical Center, partially funded by Fight for Sight.

The Gates Cambridge Scholarships, established by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2001, have been called the “Rhodes Scholarships” of Cambridge. The scholarships provide funding for a second bachelor’s degree or graduate study at the University of Cambridge. This includes university and college fees, maintenance allowance sufficient for a single student, contribution toward return airfare and other discretionary allowances.

The Gates differs from many overseas competitions in that the student must apply both to the university and to the Gates Foundation. Students must be accepted by Cambridge before they are allowed to accept a Gates.

Gates Scholars from around the world study a wide range of subjects: arts, sciences, humanities, social science, technology and medicine. They work with distinguished faculty and other exceptional students from different countries and cultures.

Physics major Laura Blecha received a Gates Scholarship last year. Two other Northwestern students were also previous winners — Jessica Grahn in 2001 and Daniel Choate in 2002.

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