Wellesley Alum Wins Gates Cambridge Scholarship

February 13, 2014

Madeline Rose Weeks ’11 Will Study Geographical Research at the University of Cambridge

coffee seedlings growing in containers

Madeline Rose Weeks ’11 has won a Gates Cambridge Scholarship to study geographical research at the University of Cambridge in the U.K. The prestigious scholarship covers the full cost of a graduate degree at Cambridge, and is extremely competitive; this year, more than 800 applicants applied for 40 U.S. fellowships.

Weeks studied economics and Spanish at Wellesley. She became interested in the interdisciplinary study of society, the environment, and economics in the context of sustainable farming. For her honors thesis, she researched the ritual use of cacao in Mexican history, and compared ancient and modern use of the bean. After graduation, she worked at the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University before moving to Mexico to study coffee farming and its communities through a Fulbright-Garcia Robles Grant, making her one of six Wellesley women to earn a Fulbright grant last year. Upon learning that she had won the Gates scholarship, Weeks said, “I was filled with tremendous honor and gratitude to be joining the Gates Scholars community and to be studying with top research support at Cambridge.”

“The Gates Cambridge Scholarship is a prestigious fellowship given to bright and innovative young leaders who aspire to spend their careers improving the lives of others,” said Liz Mandeville, the director of fellowships at Wellesley’s Center for Work and Service. “A true interdisciplinary thinker, Madeline studies the intersection of ecology, agriculture, economics, and culture, presently through the lens of coffee and cocoa production. Compassionate, brilliant, and comfortable with complexity, she is an ideal recipient of the award. Not only does the Gates Cambridge grant Madeline a full scholarship to Cambridge University for graduate study, but it counts her among a cohort of visionary young scholars from all over the world who hold a similar ambition to improve the world. It is a tremendous honor, and we feel very, very proud of Madeline's aspirations and achievement.”

While at Cambridge next fall, Weeks will pursue an M.Phil in geographical research, thus addressing her interdisciplinary interests and increasing her knowledge of research design and implementation. In the future, she plans to pursue a doctorate in environmental studies and resources.

Corri Taylor, director of the Quantitative Reasoning Program and senior lecturer, has been an advisor to Weeks since her time at Wellesley. “With her passions for geography, economics, environmental sustainability, food studies, and international understanding; her exceptional research, organizational, leadership, and interpersonal skills; and her resourcefulness, independence, creativity, and maturity, Madeline is sure to learn much from and contribute greatly to the [program]” she said. “I am delighted that the Gates Cambridge Scholarship will allow this promising scholar to continue to develop the skills that will enable her to carry out further important work in geography and ecological economics and policy.”


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