Two UChicago students named 2011 Gates Cambridge Scholars

Mary Abowd
News Officer for Arts & HumanitiesUniversity Communications

College fourth–years Greg Nance and Ann Robbins are among the 30 United States students named 2011 Gates Cambridge scholars.

“This has been an extraordinary year for University of Chicago students seeking to study in the U.K.,” said Amanda Norton, Lead Adviser for Scholarships and Fellowships. “Annie and Greg are both tremendously energetic students who not only do very good academic work, but who also work very hard simply to do good, and to improve the lives of others in large and small ways. We are so pleased that they have been named Gates scholars.”

The competitive award—the 30 recipients were chosen from 800 applicants—funds graduate study at the University of Cambridge, England. The scholarship was created in 2000 with a $210 million donation from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and has funded nearly 1,000 Gates scholars from more than 90 countries.

Including Nance and Robbins, 10 UChicago students have received Gates Cambridge scholarships in the program’s 10 years.

“Ann’s aspiration to be a physician–scientist, and Greg’s to play a major role in the future of American education are a tribute to their talent, their ambition and their hard work,” said John W. Boyer, Dean of the College. “Their ideals and their achievements exemplify the University of Chicago ideal, originally articulated by our first President, William Rainey Harper, of scholarly creativity linked to public citizenship.”

Nance, a 2010 Harry S. Truman scholar, will pursue an MPhil degree in management to “bolster his skills in preparation for a career in American education leadership.”

A native of Bainbridge Island, Wash., Nance is a political science major focused on international relations, and he has dedicated much of his time to programs empowering Chicago youth. He is the founding director of Moneythink, a financial literacy mentoring organization that has helped more than 1,000 students on Chicago’s South Side. He is now overseeing the program’s national expansion to 20 top U.S. colleges, and even plans to start a Moneythink chapter at Cambridge.

Nance would like to focus his future energies in helping foster social entrepreneurship.

‘I am humbled by this extraordinary opportunity,” he said. “I aim to continue my work as a social entrepreneur by creating, launching and effectively directing organizations that sustainably benefit the people and communities they touch.”

Robbins is a 2008 recipient of the Lillian Gertrude Selz Prize, awarded to the top female College first–year. A chemistry and biochemistry major, she is currently performing research on the microenvironment of breast cancer. At Cambridge, Robbins will pursue an MPhil in medical science (clinical biochemistry).

“The past few days have been a little surreal,” Robbins said of hearing the news. “I am very excited about my project next year at Cambridge.”

A native of Mountain Home, Ark., Robbins works with the visually impaired through a new campus organization, Mission for Vision. She also has spent the last two years volunteering at La Rabida Children’s Hospital, which serves children with chronic illnesses and trauma.

At Cambridge, Robbins will pursue an M. Phil in clinical biochemistry in Dr. David Savage’s laboratory, working with patients who suffer from lipodystrophy, a disease in which people are born with abnormal fat tissue.

“The work has vital implications for a much larger group of people who suffer from Type 2 diabetes and insulin–resistant diabetes,” Robbins said, adding that she was specifically drawn to the humanitarian aspect of Savage’s work.