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  • Writer's pictureFang Liu

Editor's welcome

Updated: Jun 9, 2021

On behalf of the editorial team, I would like to welcome you to the 2021 issue of The Scholar magazine.

The articles in this issue only showcase a subset of the diverse and meaningful work that Gates Cambridge Scholars, past and present, have pursued during and after their time at Cambridge.

It is an important year for The Scholar. For the first time we are going entirely online. Further, this edition marks the 20th anniversary of the Gates Cambridge Scholarship. To celebrate, we decided that this year's theme should be 'Memory: How the past shapes the future’. In so doing, we want to make this year’s magazine a point of reflection - focusing on how memories (re)shape our societies, understandings, and identities - but also, more importantly, an opportunity to look forward and to conceive different possibilities for the future.

In keeping with the main theme, we have three sets of compelling articles. ‘From the Past’ revolves around our civilisation, history and heritage. From the lost script back in ancient Egypt, to August’s youth council, to the National Trust’s report on how heritage sites reflect the history of slavery, these articles illustrate how human beings have stumbled along the river of history from the very beginning and what can we learn from this ever-fluctuating journey that can help us inform our future. ‘Environment speaks’ consists of three fascinating narratives from an ecological angle, showing the significant memories stored in ice, in the ocean and in human behavioural plasticity, which are easy to miss, but should not be overlooked. ‘Secrets of Remembering’ draws from a biological and neurological thread, explaining the mechanisms behind memory, and how that relates to and can inspire the battle against Covid-19. Four articles in particular engage with dementia/Alzheimer’s disease from different aspects, demonstrating how Gates scholars have tackled problems of memory loss in a variety of ways.

We have also invited our alumni to share their trajectories and thoughts on the 20th anniversary. NASA Astronaut Kayla Barron shares her amazing experiences in space, her everyday life at NASA and the unthinkable difficulties that Covid-19 has brought. Historian Tara Westover, best-selling author of Educated offers her insights on memory, history, and her inspiring journey. Dr Niraj Lal describes his career path after leaving Cambridge, particularly his engagement with public discourse as an active scientist. In different ways, they, among many other alumni, convey the values of and commitment to ‘improving the lives of others’ as Gates Cambridge Scholars.

I am extremely grateful to all our contributors, the editorial team, including Anis Barmada and Amelia Urry, and our advisors Mandy Garner and Jim Smith at the Gates Cambridge Trust, for making the 20th-anniversary special issue of The Scholar: 2021 possible.

Fang Liu


Class of 2020, PhD Social Anthropology, Newnham College



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