Indian American awarded Gates-Cambridge Scholarship

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Nitika Mummidivarapu. Photo courtesy of University of California, Davis.

A University of California, Davis, senior is one of 90 students from around the world who have been awarded the Gates-Cambridge Scholarship for postgraduate study at the University of Cambridge.

Nitika Mummidivarapu, an Indian American, is among the 2019 class of scholars selected for their outstanding intellectual ability, leadership potential and commitment to improving the lives of others.

The biochemistry and molecular biology major will use the scholarship — which covers tuition, room and board, and a stipend — to pursue a master’s degree in the history and philosophy of science and medicine, according to a press release.

Using her interests in literature, Mummidivarapu said she hopes to improve scientific discourse in the media and help people make informed decisions about medical care. She will explore whether appealing to a group’s cultural and religious values will improve their understanding and acceptance of scientific theories, she wrote in her scholar profile. After earning a medical degree, she wants to continue exploring the intersection of medicine and literature.

Mummidivarapu came to UC Davis because of the College of Biological Sciences.

“It shows how much the university values the biological sciences,” she said. “I wanted to know I’d have the right resources.”

For the past three years, Mummidivarapu has been a member of Assistant Professor Celina Juliano’s lab, where she studies the role of certain proteins in the longevity of Hydra, a genus of freshwater organisms of special interest because of their regenerative ability.

Additionally, Mummidivarapu helped found The Diaper Bank Project, a student organization that collects diapers and child care supplies for pediatric clinics affiliated with UC Davis Health. She also served as a volunteer at the student-run Imani Clinic, which provides health care to the underserved in Sacramento; as a student representative on committees of the campus’s Academic Senate; and as a member of the Chancellor’s Undergraduate Advisory Board.

The Gates-Cambridge Scholarship program was launched in 2000 with a $210 million donation from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Its mission is to build a global network of future leaders committed to improving the lives of others.

Alice Adriaenssens, who graduated from UC Davis in 2009 with a bachelor’s degree in the same biochemistry and molecular biology major as Mummidivarapu, was in the 2009 class of Gates-Cambridge Scholars. She earned a doctorate in clinical biochemistry from Cambridge and is now a postdoctoral research associate at the British university’s Institute of Metabolic Science.

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