New Gates Scholar takes pride in connections with College history

Thursday 16 June 2022


St Catharine’s is preparing to welcome two recipients of a Gates Cambridge Scholarship in the same academic year: Ryan Law is due to begin his PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience in October, while Nisita Dutta is set to start her PhD at the same time looking at creating novel nanobody-drug conjugates to treat pancreatic cancer. Read our recent news article about Nisita’s research.

When he joins St Catharine’s later this year, Ryan will be following in the footsteps of Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia. Exactly 100 years ago. The Tunku joined St Catharine’s to study law and he would go on to receive not only his undergraduate degree but also an Honorary Fellowship from the College. St Catharine’s is now home to an incredible range of scholars from Malaysia thanks to the Tunku Abdul Rahman Fund, which was established in 2003 by the Government of Malaysia and St Catharine’s to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Tunku’s birth.

Ryan, from Malaysian Borneo, comments:

“I’m proud to continue the history of Malaysian students at Catz. It is an incredible opportunity to be studying alongside a vibrant research community whose work continues the Tunku’s legacy to create lasting positive social change.”

Ryan Law
Ryan Law

Ryan will be based at the University of Cambridge’s MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit. He explains:

“Through language, we can string together words to share knowledge, inspire change, and build nations. My research will look at how this remarkable capacity is achieved by the brain, focusing on how the brain pieces together smaller pieces of word meanings into more complex expressions. It is also important to understand how this ability develops in childhood and how it breaks down in disease. To this end, I will also seek to develop experimental methods that are more amenable to different populations such as children and patients.”

During his PhD, Ryan is looking forward to continuing his work on diversity, equity, and inclusion in education and research, aspects that, he thinks, are of equal importance to the science itself:

“I’m committed to promoting equitable access to academia and higher education more broadly. I have helped to champion these values at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour in the Netherlands. I am particularly keen on participating in outreach programmes through the Catz and Gates Cambridge communities to extend access to social and scientific issues through education and research.

“Outside the laboratory, I enjoy playing the Chinese dulcimer. I performed in an orchestra in Malaysia and a chamber music ensemble in London. I also swim and would be interested in dipping my toes into open water swimming in Cambridge.

Four Gates Cambridge Scholars are currently part of the St Catharine’s community: Robert Henderson (a Psychology PhD student), Dorian Minors (a Biological Sciences PhD student), Felix von Horstig (a Physics and Materials Science PhD student) and Barbara Neto-Bradley (a Plant Sciences PhD student).