Leandra Jackson, a graduating senior in Public Health Science, has been named a Gates Cambridge Scholar. She is the first winner at UC Irvine in eight years, since Shu-Ping (Cleo) Tung won in 2009-10.
The Gates Cambridge Scholarship supports postgraduate study at the University of Cambridge and is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support students with demonstrated leadership ability, strong preparation for the selected Cambridge graduate program, and a deep and ambitious commitment to creating positive change. The Gates Cambridge program is one of the most prestigious and competitive scholarships in the world, with just 95 new winners each year, 40 of whom are selected from the United States. Gates scholars are talented, independent and wide-ranging, seeking intellectual and personal growth through direct engagement with Britain’s best academic programs.
Jackson plans to earn a master of philosophy degree in Biological Sciences within the Department of Pathology at Cambridge during the 2018-19 academic year. Under the guidance of renowned experts such as Dr. Klaus Okkenhaug, she hopes to increase understanding of the mechanisms that influence development of cancer and leverage the body’s natural defense mechanisms in development of personalized immunotherapies. Jackson says, “I hope my research will lead to a greater understanding of the mechanisms that influence development of cancer and elucidate possible targeted therapeutics to combat the disease. As a future physician-scientist, I’m honored to join the diverse Gates Cambridge scholar community and to work together towards improving the lives of others.”
Having never been abroad, Jackson is excited to join one of the foremost cancer and immunology laboratories in the world and contribute her knowledge to some of the most globally pressing medical questions. Jackson states, “I eagerly anticipate seeing the world beyond the United States for the first time, alongside new colleagues who are on the leading edge of this research.” After completing her master’s at Cambridge, Leandra intends to return to the United States to earn an M.D./Ph.D. degree and pursue a career at the intersection of medical practice and research.
A University of California Regents’ Scholar and Honors-to-Honors transfer student in the Campuswide Honors Program, Jackson previously studied at Irvine Valley College and Saddleback College, where she earned magna cum laude honors at graduation. Initially interested in medicine and having volunteered thousands of hours at Mission Hospital over eight years, Jackson was introduced to the importance of research by her mentors and pursued summer research experiences at Yale School of Medicine and Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. During her undergraduate studies at UCI, Jackson has participated in four additional research projects, including her current research work on immune system regulation under Professor David Fruman of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, and a study of attitudes toward Human Papilloma Virus vaccination under Professor Suellen Hopfer, for the Public Health Honors Program.
A highly decorated student, Jackson previously won the Stanley Behrens Foundation Scholarship, for outstanding achievements as a transfer student with dedication to community service; the National Science Foundation S-STEM Scholar award for academic talent as a low-income student pursuing a scientific major; and the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship for Excellence in Research, a highly prestigious and nationally competitive merit-based undergraduate scholarship for scientific researchers.
Students interested in applying for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, the Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship, or other prestigious scholarships should contact UCI’s Scholarship Opportunities Program (SOP) for assistance. The Scholarship Opportunities Program launched in 1990 to encourage and help UCI undergraduates win top awards. We provide bright and dedicated undergraduates with the communication skills — writing, editing, public speaking, and interviewing — needed to compete successfully for 15 scholarships and national or international recognition. Students who utilize SOP services increase their involvement in meaningful research, service, and leadership opportunities on the campus and beyond and cultivate solid relationships with faculty. We also manage the university-level application evaluation and endorsement process for scholarships requiring nomination or endorsement.
The Scholarship Opportunities Program is located in the Center for Excellence in Writing and Communication in the Ayala Science Library. For more information, please visit: http://scholars.uci.edu/.