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Northwestern Has Two Winners of Gates Scholarship

February 13, 2008
EVANSTON, Ill. --- A 2007 Northwestern University graduate and a Northwestern senior have been awarded the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship to pursue their graduate studies at Cambridge University in England.

They are Andrew Gruen, a Medill School graduate, and senior Amber North. Both will receive full funding for a year of post-graduate study.

Gruen, son of Bruce and Joanne Gruen of Minnetonka, Minn., will pursue an MPhil in Modern Society and Global Transformation. North, daughter of Bill and Lisa North of Snohomish, Wash., will pursue an MPhil in Philosophy.

They are the eighth and ninth Northwestern students to be awarded Gates Cambridge Scholarships since the program began in 2001. They will join fellow Gates Scholars -- highly talented young men and women from all over the world -- studying subjects across the whole range of knowledge: arts, science, humanities, social science, technology and medicine.

Gruen, who studied new media at Medill and worked for the BBC as a technology reporter as a senior in the Teaching Media Program, is a Digital Executive Producer for Hearst-Argyle Television in Orlando, Fla., where he oversees content creation for two local digital news properties. He is responsible for WESH.com, a television station Web site, and centralflorida.highschoolplaybook.com, a high school sports news and social networking Web site.

At Cambridge, Gruen plans to combine his digital journalism experience with the study of culture and media in the modern world to solve the growing problem of what he terms "information obesity." As people increase their access to data, they use less of it, Gruen said, and his goal is to solve this problem, not by creating less data, but by adding context. He is interested in technologies that help turn information implicit in aggregated journalism into useful data -- for example, collecting a team's overall record from the entire corpus of game stories. He also aims to study the sociological effects of information obesity, including the consequences of factionalized media in a modern republic.

At Northwestern, Gruen majored in journalism and political science at Northwestern where his primary research was for The Oyez Project <http://www.oyez.org/>, a digital archive of U.S. Supreme Court multimedia, including images, video, case summaries and recordings of oral arguments reaching back to 1956. He focused on methods of gathering, storing and presenting digital information in ways immediately useful to lay people. He also held leadership roles in Jewish student organizations and sang Bass in two School of Music Ensembles and one student group.

North is completing studies for a bachelor's degree in the spring, with a double major in philosophy and international studies. Her main interests are the philosophy of science, embodied cognition and philosophy of history and the effects that competing epistemologies of science and theories of cognition have on the discourse of the individual and society.

She is continuing to work on a summer thesis entitled "The Background Ontological Attitude: And Not Too Natural Either" that examines how different ontological lenses contextualize the formation of scientific theories.

Last year North was chosen one of 20 Beinecke scholars nationally to pursue this work in graduate school. In addition to her research in philosophy of mind and science, in her junior year she conducted research in Vietnam on a Freeman Asia Fellowship. She examined how the rewriting of national histories is marginalizing ethnic youth identity in a work entitled "The Scholarship of Vietnameseness."

North also is a singer-songwriter with two albums and has performed around the U.S. and abroad. She plans to continue her music in the lively scene of Cambridge and London. In the summer of 2007, Amber was named one of Glamour Magazine's Top Ten College Women and was honored for her music and her academics. North eventually plans to pursue a PhD and become a professor of philosophy.

The Gates Cambridge Scholarships, established by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2001, 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 award differs from many overseas competitions in that the student must apply simultaneously to the university and to the Gates Foundation. The foundation selects its finalists from a pool of students already admitted to programs of their choice at Cambridge. Since the start of the scholarship program, more than 450 scholars have completed their studies at Cambridge and have now gone on to other fields of endeavor around the world.
Topics: People