Claire Bunn named Gates Cambridge Scholar

Claire Bunn with other students

Claire Bunn (L)

University of Georgia senior Claire Bunn of Marion, Arkansas, will continue her studies in lung biology this fall as one of 23 Americans selected for the 2022 class of Gates Cambridge Scholars. The scholarship fully funds postgraduate study and research in any subject at the University of Cambridge in England.

Bunn is UGA’s ninth Gates Cambridge Scholar in the program’s 21-year history. The scholarship, which recognizes intellectually outstanding postgraduate students with a capacity for leadership and a commitment to improving the lives of others, was established by a gift from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Since the first class in 2001, Gates Cambridge has awarded 2,003 scholarships to scholars from 111 countries who represent more than 700 universities globally.

“The University of Georgia congratulates Claire on this impressive achievement,” said President Jere W. Morehead. “We are delighted that another talented UGA graduate will represent our institution at the University of Cambridge through the Gates Cambridge Scholarship program.”

Bunn will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in genetics. She was named a Goldwater Scholar in 2021 and is a Foundation Fellow, Stamps Scholar and Honors student in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences and Jere W. Morehead Honors College.

Since her freshman year, Bunn has devoted much of her time to researching protein kinases, using bioinformatic and biochemical approaches with Natarajan Kannan, a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology. She also works as a campus tour guide through the UGA Visitors Center.

In fall 2020, she began researching developmental lung biology, working remotely with Dr. Jennifer Sucre, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and a UGA Foundation Fellow alumna, conducting digital imaging analysis of the lung tissue samples of preterm infants with bronchopulmonary dysplasia, a form of chronic lung disease that affects newborns. Bunn quickly gained an interest in research at the intersection of developmental and cancer biology — topics she will continue to study this fall. At Cambridge, she will pursue a PhD in the Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience. Her goal is to investigate the cellular mechanisms governing embryonic lung development and tissue maintenance.

“Through this research, I hope to deepen our understanding of fundamental biological processes to guide personalized medical therapies that are accessible to all populations,” Bunn said.

As an aspiring physician-scientist, Bunn also researched public health as a Delta Scholar and wrote for the Boston Congress of Public Health. Her UGA involvement includes serving as a co-president of the Honors Student Council in the Morehead Honors College, head coach for UGA MATHCOUNTS Outreach, peer mentor for Destination Dawgs and an Honors teaching assistant. She belongs to the Omicron Delta Kappa and Dean William Tate honor societies. She studied biomedical ethics at the University of Oxford in 2019.

“Claire exemplifies how outstanding instruction, research and study abroad experiences prepare students for a lifetime of impact,” said S. Jack Hu, the university’s senior vice president for academic affairs and provost. “I congratulate her and the many dedicated UGA faculty and staff who have mentored and supported her.”

UGA’s major scholarships office, housed in the Morehead Honors College, works closely with students across campus as they apply for national, high-level scholarships. For more information, visit honors.uga.edu/scholarships/external-scholarships or contact Jessica Hunt, assistant dean and director of scholarships, at jhunt@uga.edu.

Contact: Jessica Hunt, jhunt@uga.edu
Writer: Stephanie W. Schupska, schupska@uga.edu

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