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4 ‘Outstanding’ and ‘Socially Committed’ Indian Americans Among 24 Gates Cambridge Scholars

4 ‘Outstanding’ and ‘Socially Committed’ Indian Americans Among 24 Gates Cambridge Scholars

  • The U.S. scholars-elect will join around 60 scholars from other parts of the world, who will be announced in early April.

Four Indian Americans are among 24 “most academically outstanding and socially committed U.S. citizens” selected to the 2021 class of Gates Cambridge Scholars at the University of Cambridge. These scholars, who will take up their awards this October, come from universities across the country. Fourteen are women, nine are men and is one non-binary. Eighteen will pursue PhDs, while six will undertake one-year master’s degrees. 

The scholarships were established in October 2000 by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with a $210 million donation to support outstanding graduate students from all around the world to study at the University of Cambridge.

Indian American scholars include Tanvi Rao, Venkata “Anish” Chaluvadi, Veeraj Shah, and Meena Venkataramanan. This year’s scholars will study and research subjects ranging from bioelectronic medical technology for targeted drug delivery to the brain and the ways in which universities can promote social good in diverse global societies to the intelligent design of advanced nanomaterials in battery components. The U.S. scholars-elect will join around 60 scholars from other parts of the world, who will be announced in early April.

Tanvi Rao, who attended Georgia Tech and has been working as an associate at 11Ten Innovation Partners, will work in the emerging field of radiogenomics which combines medical imaging with genomic data. She will seek to develop imaging biomarkers and predictive models for liver cancer with the aim of improving access to care by creating tools that enhance diagnostics, enable remote assessment and improve precision care. She says her previous work on innovation showed her that subconscious bias in tactical solution design often excludes patients with the greatest need. “While innovation is key to society’s well-being and progress, I believe we are also obligated to ensure that it reaches those who need it most,” she says. 

Venkata Chaluvadi says his lived experiences both growing up in rural South Carolina and visiting India strengthened his resolve in addressing today’s global energy challenges. He has an undergraduate degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Clemson University. At Cambridge, he will study Nanoscience and Nanotechnology. By developing skills in both computational and experimental realms, he hopes to “better bridge the gap between the two and lead crucial collaboration in space.”

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As an undergraduate at the University of Maryland, Veeraj Shah created an individual studies degree in “Health Policy and Technology” and studied how both policy and novel technology can create more equitable healthcare systems that emphasize preventive health. He led Public Health Beyond Borders, a student-led global health organization. He founded Chat Health, a nonprofit organization that applies artificial intelligence to provide accessible and real time information on preventive health. This past year, he worked at the Office of the U.S. Surgeon General, contributing towards the surgeon general’s report on Community Health and Economic Prosperity. At Cambridge, Shah will pursue a PhD Public Health and Primary Care. 

Growing up one hour north of the U.S.-Mexico border as a first-generation immigrant of Indian descent, Meena Venkataramanan has always been fascinated “by the construction and deconstruction of borders.” She says her identity as an Indian American born in the U.K. and living proximally to Mexico is one “that has transcended borders, spanning manifold countries and cultures.” It has driven her to found initiatives such as South Asian Americans in Public Service, a national movement to empower South Asian American students to enter careers in public service, and Stories from the Border, a journalistic platform focused on illuminating narratives of U.S. migration. She says her identity has inspired her “to bridge borders wherever she sees them—often, through storytelling as a journalist and writer.” Through Cambridge’s M.Phil in English: Modern and Contemporary Literature, she wants to compare and contrast contemporary U.S. and U.K. refugee and asylum-seeker literature across genres in hopes of understanding how authors in both countries take different approaches to telling these narratives.

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