Connor Richards, a fourth-year physics major at the University of California, Riverside, has been awarded the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, one of the most prestigious international scholarships in the world.
“This is the most prestigious award for graduate study that any UCR undergraduate has ever won, and it is a great tribute to Connor that he has earned this distinction,” said Steven Brint, vice provost of undergraduate education.
Richards is one of about 40 American students who received the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, and he is the first UC Riverside student to be granted the award. He will read for a Master of Advanced Study in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge. He said receiving the scholarship is a humbling honor, and represents a tremendous opportunity in terms of professional and personal growth.
“This award is really recognition of the work that UCR has put into preparing me over the last four years,” Richards explained. “I received support whenever and wherever it was required. I cannot begin to properly thank all of the departments and programs, and the people who have worked tirelessly to make this happen. But, I would be remiss if I did not specifically acknowledge Professor Owen Long, who has served as my research advisor since my freshman year, and Gladis Herrera-Berkowitz, with whom I have been working to prepare to apply for these awards since my freshman year.”
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Richards has already received admission to top Ph.D. programs, including fellowship offers at Caltech and Cornell. He will attend Cambridge during the 2016-17 academic year, and hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in experimental high-energy physics at Princeton in fall 2017.
Since coming to UCR, Richards has won the Strauss scholarship, a public service scholarship given to university students in California, and the Goldwater scholarship, which encourages outstanding students to pursue careers in mathematics, the natural sciences, or engineering and to foster excellence in those fields. He was named a finalist for the Marshall Scholarship, and spearheaded a project to mentor and encourage high school students interested in pursuing STEM careers. He is also active in the University Honors program and currently serves as president of the CNAS Science Ambassador program.
His latest accomplishment adds to the outstanding year of achievement for UCR undergraduates at the highest level, according to Brint. UCR undergraduates have won two Goldwater scholarships, three Strauss scholarships, three Coro fellowships, and three Howard Hughes Medical Institute Extraordinary Research Opportunities Scholarships. Several Fulbright finalists are still waiting to hear about their awards.
“Based on what I know, our record in the area of prestigious scholarships and awards is stronger than that of any UC campus. Connor and these other outstanding students make us all proud,” Brint explained.
The Gates Cambridge Scholarship program was established in October 2000, after the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation donated $210 million to the University of Cambridge – the largest single donation to a United Kingdom university. Scholarships are awarded to outstanding applicants from all over the world who want to pursue a full-time postgraduate degree at the University of Cambridge. Applicants are selected on the basis of showing intellectual ability, leadership potential, and a commitment to improving the lives of others.
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