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Senior at Illinois wins Gates Cambridge Scholarship


Melissa Mitchell, News Editor
217-333-5491; melissa@illinois.edu

3/22/2004

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A senior at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is among the recipients of this year’s prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship.

Joannah Metz of Champaign, is one of 31 U.S. students to receive the merit-based scholarship funded by an endowment from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle. The award, valued at approximately $38,000, covers the full cost of studies at Cambridge University in England, as well as travel and living expenses.

Administered by the Gates Cambridge Trust since 2001, the scholarship program is open to students outside the United Kingdom. The Gates Cambridge Trustees award scholarships on the basis of a person’s intellectual ability, leadership capacity and desire to use their knowledge to contribute to society.

"This will be the 14th consecutive year that the University of Illinois has sent a student to Cambridge on a prestigious scholarship," said David Schug, who heads the UI's Office of Scholarships for International Study.

Metz, who has three majors – engineering physics, astronomy and geophysics – focuses her academic attention on the extraterrestrial. In fall 2004, she will begin a one-year master’s program at the University of Cambridge in the field of polar studies. At Cambridge, she will study glacimarine sedimentation – the delivery of sediments from ice sheets to the ocean and the patterns of sedimentation formed by this process.

As an undergraduate at Illinois, Metz gained research experience working with astronomy professor You-Hua Chu and geology and microbiology professor Bruce Fouke. She has participated in research projects at NASA, the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and the University of Manchester, England, where she studied during the fourth year of her five-year academic program in the colleges of Engineering and Liberal Arts and Sciences.

At Illinois, Metz’s extracurricular activities have included working with Volunteer Illini Projects and serving as president of the student organizations Float’n Illini and the Illini Space Development Society. She also has served as a mentor and tutor for prospective and current Illinois students, and has done volunteer work at St. Jude’s Catholic Worker House.

After she completes her studies at Cambridge, Metz plans to return to the United States to pursue a doctorate in planetary science. From there, she hopes to become an astronaut and pursue fieldwork on Mars.