One Penn senior has been awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship this year, the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships announced Tuesday.
Wharton and College senior Eileen Moison was one of 40 winners selected by the scholarship to pursue graduate studies at the University of Cambridge for up to three years. She is also the 22nd Penn student or graduate to receive the award since the scholarship’s inception.
Last year, Penn did not produce any Gates recipients.
The 13-year-old scholarship was endowed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 1999 and has quickly become one of the top-tier international awards, among the likes of the Rhodes, Truman and Marshall scholarships.
A student in the Roy and Diana Vagelos Program in Life Sciences and Management, Moison said she was drawn to the scholarship because of its reputation as being more science-friendly than some of the other major scholarship programs.
At Cambridge, Moison will continue her biochemistry work, studying an antibiotic known as gentamicin and contributing to research that attempts to make it less toxic for clinical use.
In order to apply for the scholarship, students must first apply to Cambridge and indicate their interest in the Gates program through supplementary essays. It is then at the discretion of Cambridge to refer the student’s application to Gates.
Because the scholarship does not require endorsement from the home school, CURF has no official role in the fellowship.
Still, though, Moison praised CURF’s involvement in her own application.
“[CURF] did a really good job providing a supporting role and giving me feedback,” she said. “They’re very knowledgeable about the scholarship.”
While CURF cannot know with certainty how many students from Penn applied, CURF Assistant Director for Communication Aaron Olson said the center saw about 30 students for consultation on the Gates.
Meanwhile, at peer institutions, the scholarship was awarded to five Princeton University students, as well as three students from Harvard University, two at Yale University and one at Cornell University.
Brown and Columbia universities and Dartmouth College did not see any scholarship winners this year.
Olson expressed excitement for this year’s winner, though cautioned against reading too much into the numbers.
“Relatively speaking, it’s a young award, so I don’t think that there is a clear story to be told with comparisons to our peers or award patterns year to year,” he said.
Moison added that she is looking forward to the opportunities the Gates will present.
“I’m really excited, but it hasn’t quite sunk in yet,” she said.
This story has been updated to reflect that Moison is one of 40 winners nationwide, not worldwide, and to correctly spell her first name Eileen.
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