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Pedro Vallejo-Ramirez ’16 named Gates Cambridge scholar

April 19, 2016

Pedro Vallejo-Ramirez ’16 is the first Rochester senior to be selected for a Gates Cambridge Scholarship, one of the most highly regarded international academic scholarship programs. Vallejo-Ramirez, an optical engineering major from Bogota, Colombia, is one of about 100 scholars chosen through separate U.S. and international selection rounds.

He is only the third Gates Cambridge Scholar in University history. Two others, Anjalene Whittier ’14 and David Liebers ’09, applied after graduating.

Approximately 100 Gates Cambridge scholars are chosen annually through separate U.S. and international selection rounds.  In addition to the 35 U.S. scholars selected from 826 applicants, 55 international scholars (including Vallejo-Ramirez) were selected from a global pool of 3,730 candidates.

The scholarships are awarded to applicants from countries outside the United Kingdom who have demonstrated academic achievement and a commitment to social concerns. They pursue full-time postgraduate degrees in any subject available at the University of Cambridge. Supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the program seeks applicants with potential to be transformative leaders for the benefit of society in a wide range of fields and provides one to three years of graduate study.

Born in Bogota, Vallejo-Ramirez  moved with his family to Panama City, Panama, when he was three years old. A Renaissance and Global Scholarship recipient at the University, Vallejo-Ramirez plans to pursue a master’s degree in biotechnology at Cambridge.

At Rochester, he has earned recognition as an innovative, charismatic leader on campus and in the community. Credited as being instrumental in reviving the University’s student chapter of the Optical Society of America, he has presented research at professional conferences and meetings. He also has won awards and honors in engineering, business, French, and for his campus contributions. Among his many roles, he has served as a workshop leader, resident advisor, and student alumni ambassador.

In his junior year, he received an International Year of Light Award. He also traveled to Goa, India, to participate in The Story of Light Festival, where he presented a proposal to build a solar cooker using wood and reflective plastic. He successfully built the cooker as a festival volunteer.

Last spring, he represented the University at the Optical Society of America’s Congressional Visit Days in Washington, D.C. Elected to both the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society and Phi Beta Kappa as a junior, Vallejo-Ramirez will pursue a master’s of philosophy degree, working in the laser analytics group of acclaimed professor Clemens Kaminski, as part of an effort to explore tradeoffs between optical and digital complexity in super-resolution microscopy.

Vallejo-Ramirez first became acquainted with Kaminski last summer, when he joined 75 other young scholars at the Optical Society’s week-long Siegman School of Lasers in Amberg, Germany.

After completing his year-long program in Cambridge, Vallejo-Ramirez plans to enroll as a PhD student in the electrical engineering and computer science department at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship program was established in 2000 through a donation of $210 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to the University of Cambridge. It is the largest single donation to a university in the United Kingdom.

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Category: Student Life

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