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MIT senior Maria Isabella Gariboldi wins Gates Cambridge Scholarship

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Maria Isabella Gariboldi
Maria Isabella Gariboldi

MIT senior Maria Isabella Gariboldi, from Italy, has won an international Gates Cambridge Scholarship, a competitive full-cost scholarship that will allow her to pursue a doctorate in materials science at Cambridge University starting this fall. She joins MIT senior Michelle Teplensky, who won a U.S. Gates Cambridge Scholarship earlier this year.

Gariboldi, who is graduating this spring with an SB in biological engineering, will conduct research at the Cambridge Centre for Medical Materials under professors Serena M. Best and Ruth E. Cameron.

At MIT, Gariboldi has done research in the laboratory of K. Dane Wittrup, the Carbon P. Dubbs Professor of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering, in the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. Currently, she is a research intern at the MIT Media Lab’s Mediated Matter Group, where she is using 3-D printing techniques to produce microfluidics.

Gariboldi’s work has taken her to the U.K. and France to conduct research at Imperial College London and at the École Polytechnique. Abdul Barakat, who directs the Laboratory of Cardiovascular Cellular Engineering at the École Polytechnique, explains that during her time in that lab, “Isabella studied the role that vascular cell shape plays in the development of vascular pathology. She has an excellent work ethic and demonstrated great scientific curiosity. Isabella did an outstanding job and was a delight to have in the lab.”

Gariboldi is excited to return to the U.K. for her doctoral studies at Cambridge. She spoke with MIT’s Global Education & Career Development office about her plans.

Where are you from? What brought you to MIT?

I am Italian. I was born in the Alps but grew up in Milan. I’ve always loved traveling, though, and was drawn to the excellent bioengineering work at MIT. When I visited, I knew MIT was the place for me to do my undergraduate studies. I liked the research being done here and felt like I fit in.

What drew you to the lab where you will be working at Cambridge University?

I became interested in biomaterials at MIT and wanted to do my graduate work in a lab that was a good fit. After some searching, I discovered the Cambridge Centre for Materials. This past January, I visited [Cambridge] and got to see the lab and meet the researchers. I really like the lab itself and the way the program is structured. It’s very clearly focused.

What do you plan on doing after you complete your doctorate?

In the future, I want to work on medical technologies for developing countries.  Up until now I’ve focused on bioengineering, but I am also interested in the delivery of medical technologies. I’d like to start my own company and am interested in the entrepreneurial aspect of this work. Ultimately, I would like to be based in Europe, so doing my graduate work at [Cambridge] makes sense for me.

This focus on health care delivery sounds interesting.

Yes. In fact, I plan on going to South Africa this summer to work with a research center at the University of Cape Town that is studying ways to improve health care delivery in resource-limited regions of the country. I think that learning more about the delivery side of medical technology will complement my bioengineering knowledge.

So you will be in South Africa this summer and then will go off to the U.K. in the fall?

Yes, I really do love international experiences. One of the things I like about doing my doctorate in the U.K. is that it will allow me to travel around Europe easily. My mother introduced me to traveling when I was young, and we both love crazy adventures. In fact, last IAP I went on a two-week expedition cruise in Antarctica. It was beautiful, and it actually wasn’t colder than it was in Boston at the time.

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