A Rutgers University student from Howell was one of two students from the State University and one of 39 from around the country to be awarded a scholarship from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Devinn Lambert will use the scholarship to travel across the Atlantic Ocean to study at the University of Cambridge. Lambert currently is majoring in biotechnology in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences and plans to pursue a Masters of Philosophy in plant sciences with the scholarship.
Arthur Casciato, the director of Rutgers' Office of Distinguished Fellowships said it is a point of pride for the school to have two students awarded these scholarships in one year. "These students have excellent academic records, research achievements on our campus and abroad, and the respect of their instructors, mentors and fellow students," he said. "They demonstrate how Rutgers students can be competitive at the highest levels in the country."
Lambert and fellow winner Kelvin Mei were also winners of Barry M. Goldwater Scholarships last year for their work in math, science and engineering. According to a press release from Rutgers 769 students applied for the Gates scholarships, of those 83 were interviewed before 39 US award winners were named. There could be 50 more winners named later this year.
In addition to those honors Lambert was a Marshall Scholarship finalist and Mei was a Fulbright Grant finalist.
During her time at Cambridge Lambert said she plans to genetically engineer green algae to boost its output of biofuel according to the press release. She also plans to continue her education after the program is over by pursuing a doctorate in microbiology with a focus on synthetic biology and biofuels.
Currently working on her senior thesis Lambert said she is looking forward to taking her studies to the next level. "My mentor gave me the opportunity to pursue independent research," she said. "I identified my area of interest and set the research objectives. It makes me confident that I want to continue to do research at the graduate level."
At Rutgers Lambert has studied a variety of topics including modifying a bacterium that could be a biological pesticide. She also worked with Singapore's Agency for Science Technology and Research testing drugs that promote the division of neural embryonic stem cells, according to the school.
Along with her time in the classroom Lambert also tutors minority students in organic chemistry and is working with government officials on the state level to increase partnerships between scientific industries and academia, the school said. She is also a resident assistant in an all female residence hall and is president of Designer Genes, a professional development biotechnology club at the school.
She said her time at Rutgers has helped her to reach her goals at the academic levels. "I would not have been able to accomplish this without the institution's support," she said. "Rutgers has a diverse group of students and faculty and the large size of the university lets students become engaged in many different ways."
The Gates Cambridge Schlarship covers all fees and living expenses for a student's master's or doctoral studies at the famous institution. Since its establishment in 2000 eight Rutgers students have earned one of the prestigious scholarships. The award for the 9-month program is expected to be worth around $38,000.