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Three Stanford alums named 2014 Gates Cambridge Scholars

David "Wei" Jai, '13, a doctoral student in Stanford's School of Engineering, and alumni Andrew Parker, '11, and Eric Tuan, '12, have been awarded scholarships for graduate studies at the University of Cambridge.

Konstanttin/Shutterstock Cambridge University

Cambridge University will become home for three Stanford students in October through the Gates Cambridge Scholarships program.

Three Stanford alumni, including a current doctoral candidate at Stanford, have been awarded Gates Cambridge Scholarships for graduate studies at the University of Cambridge in England.

The three Gates Cambridge scholars from Stanford are: David "Wei" Jia, '13, a PhD candidate in computational and systems biology, and alumni Andrew Parker, '11, and Eric Tuan, '12.

Parker and Tuan will begin their studies at the University of Cambridge next fall. Jia plans to enroll at Cambridge after completing his studies as a Marshall Scholar.

They are among the 40 Americans – from 35 U.S. universities – who were awarded Gates Cambridge Scholarships, which enable students from outside the United Kingdom to pursue graduate studies in any subject at the University of Cambridge. The scholarships cover the full cost of studying at Cambridge.

Barry Everitt, provost of the Gates Cambridge Trust, said he was delighted to announce the new U.S. scholars.

"They are an outstanding group of individuals from a very diverse range of backgrounds who are both intellectually exceptional and show a dedication to improving the lives of others," Everitt said. "We look to them as future leaders who will change the world for the better."

The international round of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship will be announced later this year.

The scholarships were established in 2000 with a $210 million donation to the University of Cambridge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

David "Wei" Jia

Jia, 23, of Gainesville, Fla., is a doctoral student in computational and systems biology at Stanford. He is conducting research in the genomics of breast cancer, supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Jia, '13, earned a bachelor's degree – in mathematics and in mathematical and computational science, with a minor in creative writing – and a master's degree in computer science at Stanford. As an undergraduate he was involved in research at Stanford's Secure Computer Systems Group. Jia transferred to Stanford in 2011 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was involved in research in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Science, the MIT Media Lab, and the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

Jia, a 2014 Marshall Scholar, plans to earn a master's degree of science in neuroscience at the University of Oxford prior to enrolling in Cambridge.

At Cambridge, he plans to pursue a doctorate in biological science in the Department of Physiology, Development, and Neuroscience.

Jia said he is looking forward to living and studying in England, and experiencing its culture and intellectual atmosphere for the first time.

"In England, there is a long heritage of both significant scientific discoveries as well as literary and artistic traditions," Jia said. "I think this consilience of arts and sciences is something very unique to England."

Jia said it was an honor and a privilege to be named a Gates Cambridge Scholar.

"I'm thrilled to have received this unique opportunity," he said. "I'm especially grateful for all those who have supported me throughout the years and helped to shaped who I am today."

Andrew Parker

Parker, 25, of Corvallis, Ore., earned a bachelor's degree in political science at Stanford in 2011. At Stanford he also served as vice president of the Associated Students of Stanford University.

As a graduating senior, Parker was awarded a 2012 John Gardner Public Service Fellowship by the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford. Under the fellowship, Parker was placed at the White House Office of Public Engagement for a 10-month, full-time job.

In his profile on the Gates Cambridge website, Parker said his mother taught him the importance of exercising the right to vote.

"Years later, as a volunteer on Barack Obama's 2008 campaign, I saw the challenges of voting firsthand: confusing registration forms, long lines and malfunctioning voting machines, just to name a few," he said. "I studied election reform efforts as a political science major at Stanford University and continued to focus on issues of civic engagement and political participation through positions at the White House Office of Public Engagement and on the 2012 Obama campaign."

Parker, who also worked at the Pentagon during his two-year stay in Washington, D.C., recently moved to Baltimore, Md., to become the campaign manager for a state legislative race.

Parker plans to pursue a master of philosophy in public policy at Cambridge.

He said he was motivated to apply for the scholarship because the public policy program at Cambridge was perfectly tailored to his interests, which lie at the intersection of technology and government.

"It's a very forward-looking program, with a special focus on the growing role of technology in policymaking and in government more broadly," he said. "With an election scheduled for next spring, I think that this coming year will be an ideal time to study electoral reform in the UK."  

Parker said he is thrilled to be heading to Cambridge this fall and is thankful for the support of friends, family and mentors throughout the application process.

Eric Tuan

Tuan, 23, of Walnut Creek, Calif., earned a bachelor's degree in music with honors, with concentrations in choral conducting and music history, and a minor in linguistics, at Stanford in 2012.

Since graduating, Tuan has been working as the director of music at Christ Episcopal Church in Los Altos and the director of the chamber choir Convivium, which he founded. He also has been working as the choral studies program administrator and staff accompanist for Stanford's Department of Music.

In addition, Tuan has performed as a professional singer for several Bay Area musical organizations, including the Philharmonia Baroque Chorale, Volti and Cappella SF. Last year, he traveled to Denmark with the San Francisco Lyric Opera for a two-week tour of The Little Match Girl Passion, an oratorio composed by New York-based David Lang, who won a Pulitzer Prize for the piece in 2008.

"I have always been fascinated by the power of choral singing to educate: by humanizing the abstract, it can open minds to different cultures and new perspectives," Tuan said in a profile on the Gates Cambridge website. "My goal as a musician is to combine performance and scholarship to explore repertoire that lies outside the traditional canon, and to bring alive unheard music both old and new."

Tuan plans to pursue a master's in music in choral studies at Cambridge. He said it was a great honor to win the scholarship, but a tough decision to leave the musical world of the Bay Area.

"I love being able to work with the children and adults at my church, and the wonderful singers of Convivium, but I know that this program will help me grow as both a musician and scholar," Tuan said.

"The master's in music in choral studies at Cambridge is a unique program in that it combines performance with musicological study. I look forward to learning from the centuries-old Anglican choral tradition, as well as pursuing research into medieval and Renaissance music. I'm also excited to participate in the rich musical life of the university, where there are so many top-notch choirs and performance opportunities."