News Release: People, Student Life

Feb. 18,  2009

Prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship Awarded to Emory Senior

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Emory University senior Alexandra Kamins has received the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, one of only 37 students in the United States – and about 100 worldwide — to receive the highly competitive award.

The scholarship, which was established in 2000 after a $210 million donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, provides for graduate study at the University of Cambridge in England. The scholarship is offered to students outside of the United Kingdom who are pursuing a master’s or doctoral degree. Kamins is the second Emory student to receive the scholarship and the first since 2001.

Kamins, a biology major, will pursue a master's degree in veterinary science and plans to study zoonoses, diseases that transmit between humans and other animals, in Cambridge's Department of Biological, Medical and Veterinary Science.

"Alex is a multi-talented woman with the mind of a scientist, the heart of an activist and the instincts of a diplomat," says Dee McGraw, the director of Emory's National Scholarships and Fellowships Program. "She is one of the most accomplished members of this senior class and I have no doubt that she will make great contributions to our world."

Since coming to Emory, Kamins has spent a summer abroad in Namibia and Botswana, as well as a semester in Kenya. She has been a member of Emory's INSPIRE undergraduate research program which emphasizes a multidisciplinary approach to science.

She has conducted research since her freshman year, working first on "evolving" enzymes to better activate HIV/AIDS drugs and then in Kenya examining the impact of human activities and structures on large mammals. Her honors thesis explores whether or not insect communities share bacteria and, if so, how these symbionts are transferred

"For a career, I plan to combine my interests and experiences to help create communication between human and animal heath sectors and to manage zoonotic disease spread," says Kamins, a native of Centennial, Colo. "The odds are that the next pandemic will be one of these diseases and I want to do my part to stop it."

Outside of her research "biology shares my love with many other subjects, including creative writing, theater set designing, art and illustration, and literature," says Kamins, who spends what free time she has riding horses.

Since the start of the Scholarship Program in 2001, more than 530 Scholars have completed their studies at Cambridge, and have gone on to careers around the world.  Past scholars are starting to contribute solutions to many of the difficult issues which beset humankind, fulfilling the intention of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation when the scholarships were established. Scholarships are awarded on the basis of a person's intellectual ability, leadership capacity and desire to use their knowledge to contribute to society throughout the world by providing service to their communities, and applying their talents and knowledge to improve the lives of others.

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