Mikaela Gerwin ’19 and Rachel Linfield ’19 have been awarded the Gates Cambridge Scholarship. The scholarship will fund Gerwin and Linfield’s pursuit of graduate studies next year at the University of Cambridge.
Gerwin will pursue a Master of Philosophy in History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine, and Linfield will pursue a Master of Philosophy in Health, Medicine and Society.
Gerwin is currently concentrating in history. She hopes to draw on her academic knowledge to work in the public policy world. In her work through the Scholars in the Nation’s Service Initiative (SINSI) program last summer, she encountered the connections between her historical knowledge and public policy interests.
“I’m really interested in ... historical thinking, the knowledge itself and the tools, knowing that often what’s not written in the documents is just as important as what is written in the documents,” she said.
In her biography on the Gates Cambridge website, she wrote, “I will study fourteenth-century bureaucratic documents, using paleographic and digital humanities methods to explore the local effects of the plague on class relations and Jewish-Christian interactions.”
According to Gerwin, her undergraduate education has helped her refine her research interests. After taking classes in statistics, health policy, anthropology, hard sciences, and history, she feels equipped to move toward a more specialized area of study.
“You see how your four years at this institution, or five in my case because I did Bridge Year, leads you to want to think and study this specific thing and go on beyond that and work with people and solve problems and do your part to make the world better,” she said.
Gerwin shared that she feels lucky to attend Cambridge with Linfield, as the two have been friends since their freshman year.
“I do feel very lucky that Rachel and I have taken classes together all four years at different points, and we have been intellectual partners for each other,” she said. “It’s a blessing to do a fellowship with someone who’s a close friend.”
“Mikaela and I have spent most Shabbats together for the past four years, and I am excited to continue the tradition of attending Shabbat dinner together every week at Cambridge,” Linfield added in an email to The Daily Princetonian.
Linfield, a concentrator in history of science, will focus her research on the medicalization processes of postpartum depression in the United Kingdom and the United States.
“I am excited to study at Cambridge, and I am inspired by the amount of interest in reproductive health,” she wrote.
She also has an interest in the efficacy of social movements in the evolution of medicalization.
She plans to attend medical school, specializing in psychiatry.
“I ultimately hope to obtain an MD and perhaps a Ph.D. with a focus on postpartum depression. I hope to practice medicine, research, and be active politically, taking what I learn at Cambridge and using it to help inform how to best treat women empathetically,” she wrote.
Linfield has worked as a summer research intern at Children’s National in Washington, D.C.; Montefiore Einstein Center for Bioethics in the Bronx, New York; and Stanford University. She volunteers with Ascend Hospice at Princeton.
A Gates Cambridge Scholarship from last year, Kaamya Varagur ’18 is currently pursuing a Master of Philosophy in Music Studies. She is currently conducting a study on how lullaby singing can moderate stress levels of immigrant mothers with two- to five-month-old infants.
Next year, Varagur will be attending medical school in Washington University in St. Louis.
She noted that while Cambridge is extremely different from the University, she felt prepared going into the program. She was a neuroscience major at the University.
“I think definitely the independent work focus of Princeton, especially junior and senior year, prepared me well for doing a masters that’s mostly research focused,” she said. “Writing a thesis definitely helped.”
As for advice to Gerwin and Linfield, Varagur recommends that they engage with the Gates community.
“From orientation onward, Gates does a really good job of bringing the scholars together, and that’s a really unique community to have at Cambridge,” she said.