UGA Honors student receives 2011 Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Athens, Ga. – University of Georgia Honors student Muktha Natrajan of Martinez has received a 2011 Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She is among a group of 30 U.S. recipients selected for the international postgraduate scholarship and is the fifth UGA student to receive the award since 2001.

Natrajan, who is a UGA Foundation Fellow, is pursuing a combined bachelor’s/master’s program in which she will earn a bachelor of science degree in genetics and a master of public health degree in environmental health science in May. Her previous national awards include a 2009 Goldwater Scholarship and a 2010 Udall Scholarship.

“Muktha joins a long and distinguished line of UGA students who have enhanced the reputation of this institution with success in these highly competitive academic scholarship programs,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams. “It is especially fitting that the Gates Cambridge Scholarship focuses its resources on students who are committed to improving the lives of others, which resonates with UGA’s land-grant mission to serve the public good. I have no doubt that the world is going to be a better place because of the work she will do.”

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship, established a decade ago through a $210 million gift from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, offers recipients who reside outside the United Kingdom the opportunity to pursue graduate studies at the University of Cambridge. The scholarship program aims to build a global network of future leaders committed to improving the lives of others.

“Muktha’s commitment to improving the lives of others is obvious, such as her research on neurodegenerative diseases and her public health work in Namibia,” said David S. Williams, director of UGA’s Honors Program. “Due to her interests in both neuroscience and the environment, Muktha is poised to make a profound impact on global health through her work studying the effects of extrinsic factors on neural cell growth and development.”

Natrajan has been an undergraduate researcher in the laboratory of Steven Stice, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Reproductive Physiology, since her freshman year at UGA. Her involvement with the lab began with her participation in the Apprentice program offered by UGA’s Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

Natrajan’s research efforts have led to opportunities to give presentations at several national and local conferences and to serve as a contributing author on a journal article on stem cell differentiation research. She also has studied at Nanjing University in China through the National Science Foundation’s Partnerships for International Research and Education and participated in New York University’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program. In the summer of 2010, she served as an intern with the World Health Organization in Namibia.

Natrajan’s campus involvement has focused on environmental and ecological issues, and includes leadership roles in the Go Green Alliance, a coalition of UGA environmental groups, and Promote Africa, Inc., an international non-profit organization that supports community development projects in Africa.

Natrajan would like to pursue a career in clinical neuroscience research and public health policy.

For more information on the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, see

For more information on UGA’s Honors Program, see

– Joëlle Walls

Posted February 21, 2011.