Two seniors awarded Gates Cambridge Scholarships

Princeton seniors Justine Drennan and Sukrit Silas have been awarded Gates Cambridge Scholarships, which give outstanding students from outside the United Kingdom an opportunity to pursue postgraduate study at the University of Cambridge.

Drennan and Silas are among 90 winners of the Gates Cambridge Scholarships from around the world.

Drennan, who is from San Mateo, Calif., is majoring in history and earning a certificate in visual arts. At Cambridge she plans to study for a master's degree in international relations, with a focus on Uighur and Han Chinese ethnic interactions in China's Xinjiang region, and on their relationship with the Chinese government's policies. Eventually she would like to work as an international journalist.

She received a Stone/Davis Prize from the Davis Center for Historical Studies for her thesis research on Chinese and Irish workers on the transcontinental railroad in 2010; a Fred Fox Princeton Class of '39 grant for study abroad through Hertford College's Visiting Student Program at the University of Oxford in 2010; and an Edwin Ferris Princeton Class of 1899 Grant for a journalism internship in 2009. Drennan also is a member of the Tigressions a cappella group, for which she previously served as music director, and is a member of the Chapel Choir. She and Silas are both members of the International Food Co-op.

Silas, who is from Delhi, India, is majoring in molecular biology and earning a certificate in applied and computational mathematics. At Cambridge he will study for a master's degree in pathology. After that he will pursue a Ph.D. in immunology at Stanford University through a Stanford Graduate Fellowship and eventually plans to work in academic research or public policy in India.

At Princeton he has served as a peer academic adviser for incoming freshmen and a peer tutor. He also served as treasurer and alumni relations chair for the International Relations Council, a forum for debating global issues. His research on fruit flies as a model to study the pathogenesis of fungal infections will be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Disease Models and Mechanisms.

In addition to Drennan and Silas, this year's Gates Cambridge Scholarship recipients include two Princeton graduate alumni: Luis Perez-Simon, who earned a master's degree in Spanish and Portuguese languages and cultures in 2005, and Kathryn Schoefert, who earned a master's degree in architecture in 2006.

The awards were established in 2001 through a $210 million donation to the University of Cambridge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Recipients are selected on the basis of intellectual ability, leadership potential and desire to improve the lives of others.