Six Gates Scholars to join Pembroke in 2018

by Alice Oates

Pembroke is thrilled that six of the ninety-two Gates Scholars of the 2018 cohort will be joining us at Pembroke in autumn.

Gates Scholarships are awarded to outstanding applicants from outside the UK, who show intellectual ability, leadership potential, and a commitment to improving the lives of others. We are looking forward to welcoming the 2018 scholars to Pembroke. You can read more about the scholarship on the Gates Cambridge website and on the University’s website.

Melisa Basol (PhD Psychology)


“My undergraduate degree in Psychology has consolidated my research interest in social influences and human judgements. With a particular focus on complex societal and political decisions, I am interested in the formation, polarisation, and ‘immunisation’ of attitudes in an age where the spread of misinformation poses a threat to science and society. Hence, my MPhil in Psychology at Cambridge University has looked into protecting public attitudes against misinformation about immigration evident throughout the campaigning phase of the European membership referendum in 2016. With the intention to further explore the efficacy of attitudinal resistance across varying polarised contexts (e.g. race, gender, sexuality), I aspire to contribute to the scientific combat of this societal challenge through my research. I am truly honoured to be joining the Gates Cambridge community, where I will be surrounded by diverse yet like-minded individuals who are determined to utilise their research for the greater good of our world.”

Neil Davey (MPhil Technology Policy)


“Visiting India each summer as I grew up in Maryland, I not only developed a deep appreciation for the beauty of Sanskrit and the rhythm of the Tabla, but also a keen interest in the issue of access to healthcare technology in resource-limited settings. As an undergraduate at Harvard studying Applied Mathematics/Economics with a secondary in Global Health & Health Policy, I founded UniDx, an organization focused on the early-stage diagnosis of infectious diseases using microfluidics-based technology. I traveled to both Peru and India to conduct clinical studies on the low-cost device for individuals with malaria. While there, I found that pure technological solutions were simply not enough to remedy pressing global health problems; rather, a more integrated approach addressing the relevant social, political, and economic barriers was required. Through an MPhil in Technology Policy at Judge Business School, I hope to learn how to better launch technologies in developing countries with a strong understanding of the countries’ local contexts. While at Cambridge, I am particularly excited to interact with faculty who research access to care, as well as be in a community of scholars who will challenge my beliefs and allow me to rethink my perspectives on healthcare. I am so grateful to be joining the Gates Cambridge community, and very eager to be surrounded by a group of intellectuals who are committed to improving the lives of others through scholarship and community engagement.”

Ethan Dutcher (PhD Psychology)


“Early in my medical training, I was struck by the fact that across my lifetime we will finally come to understand much of the neurobiology underpinning psychiatric disorders, and that with this will come a profound shift in the way these disorders are viewed by the public and managed by medical professionals. I have found the lure of watching and contributing to this change irresistible, and am particularly interested in helping to unravel the molecular and cellular substrates of these conditions using convergent work in the lab, animals, and humans. At Cambridge, I will use high-resolution structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging, behavioural testing, neurosurgical techniques, and ex vivo assays to investigate using rodents the neurobiological basis of addiction, which we now know is a chronic brain disorder. In the longer term, I hope to lead a predominantly academic career alongside clinical practice in neuropsychiatry. Academics aside, I enjoy travelling, skiing, advocacy, and philosophy. I am very excited to meet my fellow Gates classmates and to go on to be inspired and motivated by this diverse group of future leaders.”

Freja Ekman (MPhil Translational Biomedical Research)


“With the modernization of medicine, we as a global community need to reevaluate the ostracization of people with disabilities and rare genetic disorders. Growing up with a close friend with autism, I witnessed firsthand the bullying that many people with disabilities experience. This sparked my passion for both genome engineering research and disability advocacy. During my undergraduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, my interests further grew as I helped develop CRISPR-Cas9-based gene therapy to treat Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in vivo. However, there currently exists a large disconnect between the development of novel gene therapies in academic research labs and their feasibility in clinical applications. The treatment of genetic disorders is plagued by off-target effects and autoimmune responses, the long-term effects of which are often neglected. During my time in the translational biomedical research program at Cambridge, I hope to gain the necessary skills to help bridge the gap between genome engineering and the pathophysiology seen in the clinic. Additionally, I hope to continue to foster and advocate for a more inclusive environment for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Outside of my studies, I enjoy long distance running, teaching, and exploring the outdoors. I am incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be a part of the Gates Cambridge community and look forward to upholding its ideals and values.”

Elinor Lieber (PhD Criminology)


“Growing up in Israel, I have always been fascinated by prisons: what is their purpose, do they “work”, and what is life like for those who inhabit them. Throughout the past number of years, I have been fortunate to meet with prisoners in various contexts – whilst in prison, as a researcher, a teacher, and a fellow student (google ‘Learning Together’), and upon their release as a counsellor in a hostel. These experiences proved deeply meaningful to me, and have reinforced my desire to contribute to knowledge creation which can inform policy, and ultimately aid those entangled in the criminal justice system and their families. Whilst undertaking the MPhil in Criminological Research at Cambridge, I focused on forms of care, support, and friendship among prisoners – a topic which I intend to explore further during my PhD. My research will include both female and male prisoners, and will examine the meaning and structure of friendship between prisoners and its impact on the flow of power on the wing. Since completing my MPhil, I have been working as a Research Assistant at the Institute of Criminology here in Cambridge. I am honoured to be joining the Gates Cambridge community and working with others committed to social justice.”

Francisco Quintana (CPGS Legal Studies)


“As a law student at Di Tella University, I developed a strong interest in international law as a tool to secure justice and bring peace in times of political turbulence. However, as I began researching and working in the field, I became increasingly aware of the role of international law in maintaining global power structures, often against its own avowed goals. Still, I decided to explore which possibilities international law offered to formulate claims about violence and inequality from the Global South. This goal has defined my career. Professionally, I have relied on international law to promote social and political change in Latin America, by working at three branches of government in Argentina and presenting a complaint before the ICC on crimes against humanity in Venezuela. Academically, I have focused on studying the role of law in global governance and critical approaches to international law, most recently at Harvard (obtaining two Dean’s Scholar awards) and LSE (graduating with distinction). I have also taught international law for over five years. At Cambridge, I will research how human rights took a turn towards anti-impunity in Latin America. By studying who has invoked human rights law, for what aims and through which means, I hope to become an effective and responsible advocate, and to enable others to do the same. I am humbled to join the Gates Cambridge community and look forward to discussing these and other ideas with committed scholars in different fields.”