Chiu, Powers win Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Shannon Chiu ’08 and Shawn Powers ’04 will be pursuing graduate studies at Cambridge University this fall as recipients of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship.

The Scholarship, which covers tuition, living expenses and travel fees, was established in 2000 by a $210 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Candidates are selected through a two-part process starting in the fall of the previous year. After being ranked by their respective Cambridge departments, applicants are individually interviewed by the Gates Foundation. Scholarships are typically announced several days after the interview.

Around 100 scholarships are awarded annually from a short list of 250 to 300 individuals. According to the Foundation’s Web site, recipients are selected on the basis of “enthusiasm, robustness of intellect, a willingness to engage and an appropriate humility that comes from an awareness that nothing is ever really simple.”

Chiu, a biology major with a concentration in neuroscience, is originally from Woodbridge, Conn. At Cambridge, she will pursue a masters of science in experimental psychology. Her research will focus on comparing language production and comprehension. Chiu has previously conducted research at the Memory Clinic in Bennington, Vt., on brain-training exercises and improvements in cognitive functions.

“It is a tremendous honor to be a part of the Gates community, where people from diverse fields come together . . . to effect change in all walks of life,” Chiu said. “This network of support and inspiration will be invaluable for me as an aspiring physician-scientist.”

Chiu’s other interests include traveling, skiing, music and art.

Originally from Danvers, Mass., Powers graduated summa cum laude in 2004 with a degree in economics. After spending a year as an Emerson National Hunger Fellow, Powers studied the impact of remittance-funded development projects as a Fulbright Scholar in the Philippines. He has also been involved in domestic anti-hunger work through a food bank in Anchorage, Alaska. Powers plans to obtain a master of philosophy in development studies.

“I hope that my experience at Cambridge will help me refocus my career on international anti-poverty work,” Powers said, adding that the development studies program is highly interdisciplinary. “The real world of development is interdisciplinary so I want my education to be that way too,” he said.