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Senior, alum win Gates scholarships

Ryan Adams, a senior in electrical engineering and computer science, and Jovonne Bickerstaff (S.B. 2002) will begin graduate studies at Cambridge University next fall as Gates Scholars.

The scholarship program, which enables outstanding graduate students from outside the United Kingdom to study at Cambridge University, was established in 2001 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which donated $210 million to the British university to establish the Gates Cambridge Trust. Scholarships are awarded for up to four years on the basis of applicants' intellectual ability, leadership capacity and desire to apply their talents and knowledge to improve the lives of others. The 268 Gates Scholars now studying at Cambridge come from 60 countries; about 40 are chosen from the United States each year.

Adams, who is from Baytown, Texas, plans to study for a Ph.D. in physics. He designs robots and has also designed a device for renowned Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking (who has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) to help him communicate better.

Bickerstaff, who is from Akron, Ohio, is currently conducting research on a Fulbright Scholarship at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris. Her work is an extension of research she began while on an MIT Eloranta fellowship. She plans to pursue a master's degree and a Ph.D. in social and developmental psychology at Cambridge.

Adams and Bickerstaff are the second and third Gates Cambridge Scholars from MIT. They follow Paul J. Goulart (S.B. 1998, S.M. 2001), who began studying for a Ph.D. in engineering in October 2003.

For more information about the Gates Cambridge Scholarship program, see

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 5, 2004.

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