Gates Cambridge

Class of 2022

Sanjiv Ranchod

When you think about academics who make a difference in the world, you may imagine scientists who have invented new technologies, new treatments or vaccines, particularly in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

But there are many ways to make a difference and to have an impact as this year’s cohort of Gates Cambridge Scholars show. 

Three scholars

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship programme was established through a US$210 million donation to the University of Cambridge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000; this remains the largest single donation to a UK university. It funds international postgraduate students from across the globe and from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds because it recognises that the global challenges we face require the input of the widest diversity of thinking.

Since the first class in 2001, Gates Cambridge has awarded 2,081 scholarships to scholars from 111 countries who represent more than 600 universities globally, and more than 80 academic departments and all 31 Colleges at Cambridge.

Class of 2022

This year’s cohort comprises 79 new scholars. The scholars, who come from 30 countries, will begin their studies in October. They are studying subjects ranging from food security and bat reservoirs for viral diseases to how gut hormones control food intake and blood glucose levels. The class comprises 41 women and 38 men. They include:

Mariana Perez Duque

Mariana Perez Duque, from Portugal, who will do a PhD in Genetics. Mariana studied medicine and has worked in humanitarian emergencies with Médecins Sans Frontières in Brazil and Yemen. Her research will focus on chikungunya, a viral disease that is transmitted through mosquitoes, which puts 3.6 billion people at risk throughout South and Southeast Asia, Africa and South America. Infection can lead to severe complications that can last for months. Mariana’s PhD will clarify the spatiotemporal distribution as well as the ecological and evolutionary dynamics of chikungunya infections, focusing on the Asian continent.

Mariana says: “Chikungunya is a virus, spread by mosquitos, that causes severe illness in people living across tropical and subtropical regions. Chikungunya is spreading further and more rapidly because of factors such as climate change, global population mobility and urbanisation. My research will help quantify the international spread of chikungunya and identify opportunities for control, including how best to deploy the vaccines which will soon become available.”

Anoop Tripathi, from India, who will do his PhD in Plant Sciences. His previous research on understanding the evolution of photosynthesis overturned the long-standing consensus that monocots [grass and grass-like flowering plants] cannot graft, helping to develop the relevant technology to do so. He is currently working as a Senior Research Laboratory Technician at the University of Cambridge on the translational impact of the grafting approach using perennial monocots, which will be useful in imparting disease resistance in economically relevant crops like banana and oil palms. For his PhD he aims to integrate the most efficient version of photosynthesis, using the newly developed technique of cereal grafting and hybridisation which only he and two other researchers on the planet have experience in using.  

Anoop says: “As Spiderman says “with great power comes great responsibility”. This Gates Cambridge scholarship will give me the power to help people through my passion for research. My research will potentially increase rice production by 50% and ensure food security for the world.”

Ana Villaveces Galofre, from Colombia, who will do a PhD in Latin American Studies, which will build on her previous research on contemporary Latin American horror literature. She believes that literature has a vital role to play in forcing people in countries such as Colombia to recognise how much violence they are living with.

Ana, who is currently completing her MPhil at the University of Cambridge, says: "My commitment to my culture and my country’s past is tangled in my belief in the power of literature when it comes to facing pain, recognising trauma and processing fear. I believe that further research into Latin American horror literature can change our understanding of historical trauma in Latin American countries and the ways in which cultures heal from horror."

Sanjiv Ranchod

Sanjiv Ranchod [also pictured at the top of the article], from South Africa, who will do a PhD in Computer Science. Sanjiv did his BSc in Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at the University of Cape Town, where he developed a passion for Category Theory and mathematics education. He explored this further in his MSc in Mathematics  and researched internal languages in the context of categorical algebra while gaining teaching experience at the university. He intends to help grow the Category Theory – and general mathematical – community in South Africa as well as to improve the state of mathematics education at its tertiary institutions.

Sanjiv says: “I aim to explore topics in category theory that sit at the interface of pure mathematics and theoretical computer science to deepen our understanding of these fields and how they interact. I hope to develop my understanding of mathematics education with the goal of making a difference to the lives of science students at tertiary institutions in South Africa.”

Erin Hayes

Erin Hayes, from the US, who will do a PhD in Astronomy with the aim of classifying different types of supernovae using light. She says that to get the best results the measurements of stars’ brightness and distance need to be precise. The data can be used to determine how quickly the universe is expanding.

Erin, who was on the board of her Women in Physics group at the University of Pennsylvania, is keen to help more women get into STEM careers such as Astrophysics. Her research work to date has involved looking for black holes and investigating microlensing - the process that occurs when a black hole passes in front of a background star and gravity causes the star to bend towards Earth so it appears brighter. Most recently she has been developing a machine learning method to classify different types of transience in simulated data. This work also involved looking at supernovae – exploded stars.

Deus Kansiime

Deus Kansiime, from Uganda, who will do a PhD in English. During his undergraduate and graduate studies at Makerere University, he was fascinated by the gap between the literature that was taught and the literary texts produced by an emerging generation of writers on the Ugandan literary scene who associated with non-academic, non-commercial literary organisations – LINGOs. His PhD will explore the underbelly of this network and their literary activism. 

Deus, who is himself a poet, editor and literary activist, says: "My PhD will help articulate the role of literary NGOs in unlocking the creative energies of Africa's peripheral literary enterprise and their unique expression of literary activism."

Simone Eringfeld

Simone Eringfeld, from the Netherlands, who will do a PhD in Polar Studies. Simone is committed to expanding public knowledge about Antarctica.  Her PhD will investigate how we can shift public perception of Antarctica by amplifying the underrepresented narratives and muted voices that form part of Antarctica’s diverse history. For her PhD, she will use podcasting and soundscaping as sonic methods to capture Antarctica’s polyvocality in order to start foretelling more inclusive and sustainable Antarctic futures.

She says: “My hope for this PhD is that it will wake people up to the realisation that we all can play a part in shaping Antarctica's future, and with that the future of our planet. The stories we tell about our future matter. They shape how we see the world, our own roles in it, and what we believe is possible. So I want to critically investigate who gets to have a say about Antarctica. I see my research as artful activism: if I can use the power of storytelling to get more people involved in envisioning what is possible for the Antarctic, then I will have accomplished my biggest goal."

Eric Munro

Eric Munro, from the US, who will pursue a PhD in Engineering. Eric, who attended Virginia Military Institute, will research the development of next generation miniaturised spectrometers using novel nano materials. The aim is to contribute toward critical areas of application such as sensors, surveillance and spectral imaging. 

He says: “It is exciting to have the opportunity to contribute toward the forefront of spectroscopic analysis, which is characterised by a demand for shrinking devices and improved resolution – such advancements in this field will contribute to the day-to-day lives of countless people.”

Waruguru Gaitho

Waruguru Gaitho, from Kenya, who will do a PhD in Multidisciplinary Gender Studies. Waruguru is a human rights lawyer who is focused on sexual orientation, gender identity, expression and sex characteristics, race and gender. She has worked on LGBTQIA+ legal and social advocacy in Kenya, where same sex relations still carry a 14-year penalty, and her academic exploration of sexual violence against queer women in South Africa during her master’s showed the need for multi-faceted strategies in tackling complex socio-legal challenges. Her PhD will  examine how, why and with what impact Black lesbian bisexual and queer womxn mobilise law to protect their rights and advance social change in Kenya and South Africa.  

She says: "This PhD presents an exciting and invaluable opportunity to engage in a meaningful exploration of legal mobilisation by Black African LBQ women and non-binary people. I hope that the research deepens our awareness of how individuals at the nexus of intersecting vulnerabilities navigate systems of oppression at the practical level and articulate their demands both before law and society. And in this way, I hope that this work contributes to the larger projects of global liberation and emancipation."

“I am delighted to announce the class of 2022. The last year has been another difficult one for all of us and has shown how many of the challenges we face require a global response which draws on a range of disciplines. The Scholars-elect have been selected to reflect the mission of the Gates Cambridge Trust established through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s generous and historic gift to the University of Cambridge. Like their predecessors, this year’s cohort are an impressive and diverse group who have already achieved much in terms of their academic studies and leadership abilities and who have shown their commitment to improving the lives of others. We know that they will flourish in the rich, international community at Cambridge and will go on to make a significant impact in their fields and to the wider global community.”

Professor Barry Everitt FRS, Provost of the Gates Cambridge Trust

A global network

One of the benefits of being a Gates Cambridge Scholar is being part of a rich network of students and alumni and this is enhanced by the strong sense of identity that scholars have forged through both the Gates Cambridge Scholars Council and the Gates Cambridge Alumni Association.

The scholar-led Gates Cambridge Scholars Council puts on a huge range of activities which cement friendships and foment creative collaborations. This year, for instance, saw the second Gates Cambridge Teach-a-thon which involved 20 scholars giving a series of free, interactive 30-minute taster sessions about their research as part of the Cambridge Festival. The aim was to inspire secondary students to further their studies. 

"The Gates Cambridge Scholars Council is delighted to welcome the 2022 class into our diverse, international community. We are excited to support them in their personal and professional development as leaders committed to improving the lives of others – throughout their time at Cambridge and beyond."

Ariel De Fauconberg, President of the Gates Cambridge Scholars Council


The rich connections forged at Cambridge extend beyond graduation in the form of the Gates Cambridge Scholars Alumni Association [GCAA], which organises events across the world to address global challenges and cement links established at Cambridge and takes part in a mentoring scheme with new Scholars.

Alumni include:

Leading thinkers in business such as Kate Brandt, Chief Sustainability Officer at Google who was recently named one of Fortune Magazine’s 40 Under 40 

Political activists such as Reid Lidow who is campaigning to be City Controller of his home town Los Angeles and wants to reimagine the office and help it to be “a force multiplier” to address problems ranging from homelessness to economic hardship

Refugee workers such as Dima Krayem, a senior economist for the UN office in Lebanon which coordinates humanitarian aid, who has spent many of the last few years helping to get emergency aid to Syrian refugees in Lebanon in the midst of the country’s unprecedented economic and financial collapse.

Academics involved in cutting-edge research such as Ramit Debnath, a Sustainability Fellow at Churchill College who recently won a prestigious Alan Turing Enrichment Award to work on public understanding of climate change using machine learning and Artificial Intelligence.

Picture credit: Tom Porteous

Picture credit: Tom Porteous

Musicians such as Naomi Woo [pictured above] who is assistant conductor of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra who, during the pandemic, produced and hosted a series of family concerts with the WSO called Manitoba Mosaic, whose goal was to explore the four seasons of the province of Manitoba through music and art.

Social entrepreneurs including Vijay Kanuru, a Pune-based nanotech inventor and scientist, who has developed the world’s first nano-curcumin-based oral and nasal sprays that protect against Covid-19 infection.

“Each year, Gates Cambridge alumni around the world look forward to the announcement of new scholars. While the characteristics and pursuits of these scholars change each year, the awe that our alumni feel for each class' accomplishments and ambitions remains the same. We extend our heartfelt congratulations and best wishes to the new scholars and look forward to one day welcoming them as alumni to the GCAA.”

Alex Kong, Co-Chair of the GCAA

More information on Gates Cambridge can be found on and a list of the class of 2022 can be found on the Gates Cambridge Directory page.