Two MIT seniors and an MIT alumna have been chosen from among more than 500 applicants to receive 2006 Gates Cambridge Scholarships.
Founded in 2001, the Gates Cambridge Scholarships have joined three older foundations -- the Rhodes, Marshall and Churchill Scholarships -- in providing intensely competitive opportunities for the most talented U.S. students to pursue postgraduate study in the English-speaking countries of Europe.
Seniors Adam Miller and Vivek Venkatachalam and alumna Amparo Flores (M.Eng. 1998) will begin postgraduate study at Cambridge University in England next September.
Miller, who is from Evanston, Ill., is a double major in physics and theater. He began a research project last year at MIT's Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research on extra-galactic quasi-stellar objects using spectroscopic data obtained from the Hubble space telescope.
An actor who frequently appears in MIT theater productions, Miller directs the improvisational theater company Roadkill Buffet and has co-founded similar troupes in the Chicago area that focus on themes of racial injustice.
Miller was selected as a Burchard Scholar in the School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences in 2004. He plans to purse a Ph.D. degree in astrophysics at Cambridge University's Institute of Astronomy.
Venkatachalam, who is from Berkeley Heights, N.J., is a double major in physics and electrical engineering, with minors in economics and mathematics. He is interested in investigating fractional quantum Hall effect systems as potential vehicles for quantum computing.
As a Gates Scholar, he will pursue two successive programs at Cambridge University, beginning with Part III of the Mathematics Tripos and continuing with research in the Quantum Matter Group at the Cavendish Laboratory. He has been involved already in four different research projects, at Bell Labs and in three different laboratories at MIT, one of which involved spending a month at the Super-Kamiokande Cerenkov detector in western Japan. Venkatachalam was ranked nationally in both the Siemens-Westinghouse and Intel Talent Search science competitions and is a Barry Goldwater Scholarship recipient.
Flores, who is currently employed as a water-quality engineer in Livermore, Calif., received the B.S. degree in environmental engineering science cum laude from the University of California at Berkeley in 1996 and the M.Eng. degree in environmental and water-quality engineering from MIT in 1998. She will pursue a Ph.D. in ecological sanitation for urban settings in the Centre for Sustainable Development at Cambridge.
The Gates Cambridge Scholarships were founded with a $210 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and have become the most international of all the major scholarship program awards. Since the program's inception, 526 students from 72 countries have been awarded scholarships for one to four years of study at Cambridge University. This year, 552 applicants competed for the 40 scholarships awarded to U.S. students.