St Catharine’s welcomes 2021 cohort of Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars

Thursday 21 October 2021


St Catharine’s College was delighted to welcome the third cohort of Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars this month. The 2021 intake includes 26 students from 15 countries, studying subjects from Archaeology to Zoology — and virtually everything in between. The Scholars arriving this year have been admitted to 16 Colleges across the University of Cambridge but a significant proportion (19%) will be based at St Catharine’s.

The Harding Scholars Programme now encompasses 78 individuals from 30 countries, bringing diverse global perspectives to this multidisciplinary Scholarship community. Ultimately, the programme will fully fund, in perpetuity, more than 100 PhD students in residence across the University at any one time. 

Composite image of portraits of the 2021 Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars
The 2021 Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars

The launch of the Programme in 2019 was thanks to St Catharine’s alumnus and Honorary Fellow David Harding (1979, Natural Sciences), through an exceptional gift from the David and Claudia Harding Foundation to the College and the University of Cambridge. Scholarships are available to the most talented students — from any country and for research in any discipline — to augment the breadth and depth of knowledge and research that is so vital to the Cambridge community and to societies around the world.

The Harding Scholars Programme strengthens the postgraduate research landscape, bringing the brightest students from all over the world to Cambridge to study some of today’s most pressing challenges. In a short time, the Scholars have distinguished themselves with recognition and prizes, leading research initiatives, publishing articles in high-profile publications, speaking at conferences, and engaging with the community. They have made significant advances across a broad research portfolio, and they continue to make their mark in fields as diverse as Archaeology, Linguistics, and Chemistry. 

Professor Stephen Toope, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, spoke at an online event to welcome the new Scholars. He commented that the wide range of research topics covered by this year’s intake acknowledges that now more than ever, no single discipline nor lone researcher has all the answers to the challenges of an increasingly complex and puzzling world. It recognises that we are at our strongest when we share knowledge and develop interconnected thought and practice. This cohort’s research topics range from strategies for improving infection and disease control, food security, and livestock health management, to a study of mixed socioeconomic status (SES) learning environments, and to the interaction between gravity, quantum field theory, and condensed matter physics.

Professor Sir Mark Welland (2016), Master of St Catharine’s, commented, “The College is immensely proud of the significant proportion of Harding Distinguished Postgraduate Scholars who are based at St Catharine’s, thanks to David and Claudia Harding’s vision for this programme. We are already feeling the benefits of their generosity: we have been able to welcome Scholars who tell us they would not otherwise be able to afford to continue their studies. The Harding Scholars’ impact will be felt wherever their careers take them, and it is truly gratifying to know that we have been able to give them the very best opportunity to flourish and develop at the start of their careers.”

Applications for 2022 entry are now open. Visit the University website for full details of the eligibility criteria and application process.