Physics student awarded Gates scholarship to Cambridge

Physics student Caleb Todd won a coveted Gates Foundation 2022 scholarship to Cambridge University.

Caleb Todd

University of Auckland physics student Caleb Todd is the sole New Zealander to win a coveted Gates Foundation 2022 scholarship to Cambridge University.

He’ll use state-of-the-art techniques to study interactions between metals and molecules for his PhD.

There’s a link between Caleb’s work and people’s everyday lives because the interactions – “metal catalysis” – feature in chemical processes at the heart of modern industrial civilization, such as the manufacture of fertilizers or medicines. Knowing more about metal catalysis can ultimately lead to improved energy efficiency and less waste in manufacturing.

“Understanding the deep foundations of our universe has excited me since before I can remember, and as I grew and developed, so did my affinity for science,” says Caleb. “Physics in particular has and continues to captivate me as it tackles the most fundamental principles governing the natural world.”

In his research in the UK, Caleb will be building on advances in surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS), a technique for detecting and characterizing molecules.

He’s one of 79 students from 30 countries to be awarded postgraduate scholarships this year at Cambridge University under the programme supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Students keen on international scholarships should think beyond academic performance since leadership and community service also count, says Caleb. In his case, a strong Christian faith underlies service work which has included volunteering at ThinkPod, a student-led organisation that consults to non-profits for free.

Caleb graduates next week from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Science (Honours). He’s a former student at Kingsway School on Auckland’s North Shore.

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