February 16, 2010                 

AMHERST, Mass. — Clare Howard of Newton, Mass., a member of Amherst College’s Class of 2010, has been awarded a 2010 Cambridge Gates Scholarship for graduate study at the University of Cambridge in England. In the program’s 10 years, Howard is the second student from Amherst to be awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship and one of just 29 students from educational institutions across the U.S. to receive it this year.

Gordon Johnson, provost (CEO) of the Gates Cambridge Trust, said, “We are delighted with the new batch of American Gates Scholars selected in Annapolis, Md. Not only will these talented young people engage fully with the University and Colleges while in Cambridge, but they are likely to become leaders in their fields and use the educational opportunities they have had to address important and pressing problems facing societies around the world. We very much look forward to welcoming them to Cambridge as part of the 10th class of Gates Scholars.”

A neuroscience major, Howard will study for her master’s degree in biological science, conducting research in the laboratory of Andrea Brand, the Herchel Smith Professor of Molecular Biology and the director of research in developmental neurobiology at Cambridge’s Gurdon Institute. She hopes to pursue a career as a physician-scientist, which she said will enable her to follow her long-term dream of “integrating science and medicine in an attempt to find remedies for neurodevelopmental disorders and brain trauma.” In her spare time, she plans to explore her love of British poetry and art.

“Anyone who is in a classroom with Clare would be inspired,” wrote neuroscience professor Lisa Raskin in a recommendation for Howard. “Her interest in science ranges from the most molecular to the most clinical; her passions include global medical concerns. Unusually for someone her age, her love of and talent in science is matched by her passion for the humanities and arts.” She added: “She is Amherst at its finest!”

During her college career, Howard assisted with research in three very different areas at three high-profile institutions: she explored GABAergic interneurons (the cells that regulate cortical activity) at the New York University School of Medicine, studied the regeneration of injured nerve fibers in the optic nerve at Children’s Hospital in Boston and investigated various aspects of cocaine addiction at Northeastern University. On the Amherst campus, she has worked as a resident counselor, chaired the Amherst AIDS Coalition, co-founded and served as the president of the college’s chapter of Face AIDS and led the Amherst College Hillel. She has also spent this past year at Amherst doing thesis work with biology professor Caroline Goutte. A docent for the college’s Mead Art Museum, she was recently elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious undergraduate academic honors organization.

A graduate of NewtonSouthHigh School in Newton, Mass., Howard is the daughter of Mr. Robert A. Howard (a member of Amherst’s Class of 1976) and Dr. Leslie S. Schneider of Newton.

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship program was set up in 2000 and funded by a $210 million donation to the University of Cambridge by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It enables academically outstanding students from outside the United Kingdom who have a strong interest in social leadership and responsibility to pursue graduate study at Cambridge. Between 2001 and 2009 there have been 911 Gates Scholars from 91 countries. The aim is to set up an international network of scholars who will have a transformative effect on society.

This year’s successful applicants will study across a huge variety of disciplines, from oncology, bioscience and plant sciences to African studies, classics and education. They will be joined by an additional 50 Gates Scholars from other parts of the world, who will be selected at a further round of interviews, to be held in late March 2010.

Founded in 1821, Amherst is a highly selective, coeducational liberal arts college with approximately 1,700 students from most of the 50 states and more than 30 other countries. Consistently ranked among the nation’s best educational institutions, Amherst awards the B. A. degree in 34 fields of study.