Three Indians are among 55 most academically exceptional and socially committed scholars chosen from across the globe for the prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship this year.

The three Indians in the Gates Cambridge Class of 2017 are Saloni Atal, Akhila Denduluri and Yaikhomba Mutum, the university announced on Monday.Atal will do a PhD in Psychology which will look at innovative and culturally appropriate solutions to tackle the problem of gaps in access to mental healthcare in India.

In partnership with local non-profit organisations, her PhD will assess the impact and feasibility of training non- specialists, particularly community health workers, to support the mental health needs of slum-dwelling women.

Denduluri will do a PhD in Chemistry focusing on developing biophysical tools to better understand and elucidate the protein chemistry and associated toxicity in neurodegenerative diseases.
Mutum will do a PhD Biological Science at the MRC Mitochondrial Biology Unit, looking at the mechanism of active proton transport in Complex I, an enzyme involved in making energy rich ATP molecules.
The new scholars include Leena Dahal from Nepal who will do an MPhil in Modern South Asian Studies which will explore identity and intersectionality in the context of South Asia, specifically how social media helped or hindered nuanced discussion of nationalism and identity in response to the 2015 unofficial border blockade between Nepal and India.

The scholars, including 35 from the US, were selected in late January to form the class of 2017, all of whom will take up the most prestigious international postgraduate scholarship at the University of Cambridge this October.

The 90 new scholars represent 34 nationalities and include the first scholars from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Luxembourg – and the first Native American scholar.Scholarships were awarded to 50 women and 40 men from a wide range of backgrounds.Forty-one will study for a master’s degree and 49 will pursue a PhD.

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship aims to identify and select applicants who are academically outstanding and are likely to be transformative leaders across all fields of endeavour.

The 90 new scholars were selected from a total pool of around 6,000 applicants on the basis of their intellectual ability, commitment to improving the lives of others, leadership potential and academic fit with Cambridge.

“Gates Cambridge Scholars come from all over the world, but they have some important things in common: great leadership potential, a commitment to improving the lives of others and an unparalleled passion for learning,” said Bill Gates, co-chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Melinda and I are pleased to welcome the class of 2017. We have no doubt they will have an incredible impact on topics of global importance.”

Cambridge Vice-Chancellor and Chair of the Gates Cambridge Board of Trustees, Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, recognised the transformative nature of the Gates Cambridge programme and its excellent fit with the University.

“Cambridge is a global university and the Gates Cambridge programme epitomises both its international, outward-looking nature and its mission to tackle global challenges and to improve the lives of others,” he said.

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