Stepheni Uh (14C) has received the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, which covers full tuition and personal expenses for any postgraduate degree at the University of Cambridge in England.
The Gates Cambridge Scholarship is awarded to applicants who exhibit “outstanding intellectual ability, leadership potential [and] a commitment to improving the lives of others,” according to the program’s website.
After interviews in late January, 35 U.S. applicants received the scholarship. An additional 55 international applicants will be awarded the scholarship in April, according to the website. Last year, about 6,000 students applied for the scholarship.
Uh earned her bachelor’s degree in neuroscience and behavioral biology and minored in ethics at Emory. She was involved in Phi Beta Kappa honor society, tutored monks in the biological sciences through the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative, volunteered with Emory E-Crew (now called Autism E-Crew) and tutored through Emory Reads. After receiving the Bobby Jones Fellowship in 2014, she attended the University of St. Andrew’s in Scotland and received her master’s degree in behavioral and neural sciences.
With the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, Uh told the Wheel that she plans to earn a doctorate through Cambridge’s MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, studying “neurophysiological bases of resilience in children growing up in poverty.”
“Something I have been very drawn to is looking at how we can utilize the neurosciences to promote well-being,” Uh told the Wheel. “I am hoping that we can use this kind of research to better understand what I find to be a very pro-social and adaptive trait. If you are faced with extreme stress, trauma or adversity, how is it that certain children or certain individuals are able to maintain typical psychosocial functioning?”
A better understanding of specific neurobiological markers could lead to more effective interventions that promote “resilience” among children of all backgrounds, Uh said.
Uh said she entered Emory as a potential political science major. She said her interest in neurobiology began when she took an entry-level biology class taught by Professor of Pedagogy Arri Eisen, where she met Sherab Tenzin, one of the first monks to come to Emory through the Emory-Tibet Science Initiative.
“He was assigned to my case study group in biology and I asked if he wanted to meet outside of class to go over our assigned cases, which led to weekly meetings for three years and my newfound appreciation for science and humanity,” Uh said.
Uh said her “unconventional” academic path was one of the most valuable parts of her Emory experience.
“Emory was integral in helping me find my path in a very unique manner,” Uh said. “I think it had a lot to do with the fact that they embraced a lot of diversity and interdisciplinary work.”
Uh said she is excited to explore the opportunities that the scholarship offers.
“I think this opens a lot of doors, not only for my future, but into a community that is very uniquely motivated to better society in ways that they are really pursuing their passions and dreams,” Uh said. “I am extremely grateful and incredibly honored to be able to part of that kind of community.”
Michael Crutcher, senior lecturer and director of undergraduate studies in the Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology (NBB) department, taught Uh in five courses at Emory.
“I’ve taught a lot of students in my time, and she is really, if not the best, certainly one of the best,” Crutcher said. “She has this amazing, outgoing, friendly, supportive personality. I think she was a really great candidate for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship.”