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Penina Krieger ‘17, Natasha Turkmani ‘17, Charlotte Williams ‘17, and Erica Cao ‘13 were awarded the Gates Cambridge Scholarship on Feb. 8 to pursue postgraduate research at the University of Cambridge.

The scholarship, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, selects 36 academically and socially-motivated US citizens with the goal of assisting future socially-minded leaders, according to the foundation’s website.

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Turkmani, a civil and environmental engineering concentrator, will pursue an MPhil in Energy Technologies, concentrating her research on low-carbon transport alternatives.

“I was interesting in Cambridge University because they have a specific Master's program in energy,” Turkmani said. “I looked at the curriculum and it was just the perfect balance between an overview of thermodynamics and energy technologies and renewable energy technologies.”

Upon matriculating at the University, Turkmani knew that she wanted to pursue Civil and Environmental Engineering due to her passion for energy policy and her love of math and science. Her current research interest grew out of her time at the University.

“My focus on energy policy was something I developed at Princeton,” Turkmani said. “I developed a passion for sustainable energy and learning through the work of the Andlinger Center and certain classes, and eventually my senior thesis.”

The Master’s program entails two terms of coursework and research that Turkmani will build upon in a dissertation for the summer term.

According to a University press release, Turkmani has previously conducted research in Malaysia through the International Internship Program. She is a member of the Black Arts Company: Dance, the Petey Greene Tutoring Program, and served as co-director of outreach for the Princeton University chapter of Engineers Without Borders for two years.

“I was quite in shock, I was so excited and really happy I could make my school proud and family proud,” Turkmani said about finding out she had been offered the scholarship.

Williams will be studying under the Archeology MPhil Program; she is currently concentrating in anthropology and pursuing certificates in archaeology, Latin American studies, and urban studies.

Williams’ interest in anthropology was sparked by her Bridge Year to Peru, where she was exposed to Machu Picchu and other key anthropological sites in the Sacred Valley. As a freshman at the University, she reached out to 2014 Gates Scholarship awardee Izzy Kasdin ‘14, who was also entering the Archeology MPhil program.

“Ever since that conversation, the program was on my radar as something I was interested in and working for,” Williams said.

Her commitment to archeology was further sparked by a course she took in Greece with Professor of Archeology Nathan Arrington the summer after freshman year titled “Archeology in the Field." Arrington invited her to return to the course the next summer in a supervising role normally reserved for graduate students.

“What really solidified my interest for me was that Professor Arrington offered me a position as a square supervisor,” Williams said. “At an archeology site, each supervisor is responsible for managing a portion of the grid and locating artifacts and documenting the story of that site area. [Arrington] put a lot of trust in me.”

Although Williams is concentrating her studies on Latin and Pre-Columbian art and archaeology, she is excited by the breadth of research and study options at Cambridge.

“I’m really excited because at Cambridge in particular, there is a huge history of culture, heritage and resource management. It’s an institution that focuses on so many fields within archeology,” Williams said. “It covers a huge geographic span and I’m really interested to see what questions are coming up in those different fields that will be profoundly different from those I’m researching. It’s important to have that basis before I specialize. I think it will be kind of a holistic experience.”

On campus, Williams is a member of the Mock Trial team, the Department of Anthropology's Undergraduate Advisory Group, and the Behrman Undergraduate Society of Fellows. She is also an RCA in Forbes College, a tutor, and a writer for the Princeton Traveler.

Krieger is concentrating in neuroscience with a certificate in cognitive science. She will be studying in the Cognition and Brain Sciences unit and her research will focus on attention, specifically on a phenomenon called human blink that has ramifications on people with attention deficit disorders. According to the University Press release, Krieger was awarded with the Shapiro Prize in 2014 and 2015, was inducted early into Phi Beta Kappa in fall 2016, and served as a founding board member for the Cognitive Science Society.

Cao concentrated in psychology and earned a certificate in musical performance. After graduating from the University, she was awarded a Gates Scholarship at Cambridge’s Centre for Music and Science and earned her Master’s in music studies, specializing in music and clinical science.

“Cao also is a medical student at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, which she will continue while she pursues her Ph.D. She will also continue her efforts to establish a nonprofit organization called Humans in Harmony, which aims to build connections between people through collaborative music-making,” the University press release said.

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