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muktha natrajan (’11) genetics, master of public health, goldwater scholar, udall scholar, gates cambridge scholar, nsf graduate fellow, nih-cambridge scholar

Muktha Natrajan led the field this year, earning a Gates Cambridge Scholarship, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, and a National Institutes of Health Oxford–Cambridge Scholarship.

These awards will facilitate the next steps on Muktha’s path toward becoming a researcher and policy analyst at the National Institutes of Health. With the funding and professional opportunities provided by these awards, Muktha will pursue a PhD in neuroscience next year, combining her interests in neuroscience and the environment by studying the effects of extrinsic factors on neural cell growth and development.

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 is among a group of 30 U.S. recipients selected for this highly competitive award and is the fifth UGA student to receive the award since 2001.

The NIH Oxford–Cambridge Scholars Program provides accelerated, individualized training for doctoral students in the sciences. Students in this fully funded program are matched with two research mentors – one at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland and one at either Oxford University or Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. Students conduct research in both locations during their PhD.

The NSF Graduate Research Fellowship is for doctoral students who are pursuing research-based graduate studies in mathematics, science, and engineering. Students may apply their NSF funding to any academic institution.

This is the third year that Muktha has garnered national recognition for her academic achievements. In 2010, Muktha received a Morris K. Udall Scholarship, a national award that recognizes sophomores and juniors who are pursuing careers focused on environmental or Native American issues. She was also a 2009 recipient of the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, a prominent national award for undergraduates in math, science, and engineering.

Muktha began her undergraduate career as a CURO Apprentice, conducting stem cell research in the lab of Dr. Steve Stice, a Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar. Since then, she has conducted research for eleven weeks in China on an NSF grant and participated in the Summer Undergraduate Research Program in New York University Medical Center’s neurobiology department.

She has spearheaded efforts for campus sustainable solutions through the Go Green Alliance, served as inaugural director of environmental program implementation for Promote Africa, attended the 2009 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Copenhagen as a non-governmental organization delegate, and interned with the World Health Organization in Namibia.

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