Eric Bringley, a senior in the South Carolina Honors College, has been named a Gates Cambridge Scholarship winner, one of the top international scholarships in the world, and will pursue a doctorate in chemical engineering at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
Bringley is the first University of South Carolina student to earn the highly competitive and prestigious scholarship which was awarded to 35 academically gifted and socially committed students from 28 institutions in the United States. They will join about 55 scholars from other parts of the world.
"We are so proud that Eric has earned Carolina's first prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarship. His intellect, leadership and commitment to improving the lives of others are hallmarks of the Carolina experience and epitomize the qualities sought in Gates Cambridge Scholars," said University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides. "I am delighted that he will have this tremendous opportunity to expand Carolina's global reach through his study, research and collaborations at Cambridge."
The postgraduate scholarship program was established through a $210 million donation to the University of Cambridge from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2000, which remains the largest single donation to a U.K. university. Since the first class of scholars in 2001, more than 1,500 Gates Cambridge Scholarships have been awarded to students from 103 countries and 600 universities.
Competition for a spot is fierce, with more than 4,500 applications for approximately 90 scholarships each year, and the program places emphasis on both outstanding academic ability and social leadership in its admissions process. The students at U.S. institutions were selected from an initial field of 826 applicants, with 186 nominated by their department and 86 shortlisted in Cambridge for interviews by academics from the U.K. and U.S. at the Gates Foundation headquarters in Seattle in January. Bringley was assisted by the university's Office of Fellowships and Scholar Programswhich provides advisement and support to students competing for national fellowships.
Bringley, of Irmo, South Carolina, will graduate in May with a degree in chemical engineering and minors in mathematics and chemistry from the South Carolina Honors College. At Cambridge, he will be one of the 13 U.S. winners who will pursue a doctorate, while 22 others will study for one-year master's degrees.
"By applying to the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, I seek to surround myself with a diverse, motivated and selfless group of colleagues," Bringley said. "Cambridge and the Gates Cambridge program will provide me with a platform to build upon my modeling and computational studies while applying them in an altruistic, interdisciplinary setting."
A 2014 Goldwater Scholar, he spent the summer of 2015 as an American Chemical Society International Research Experience for Undergraduates Fellow, conducting research in Ulm, Germany. Bringley also is president of Carolina's student section of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
At Carolina, Bringley's research career has led him to complete 13 technical presentations and two publications. Bringley plans to use the doctorate he earns at Cambridge to help society through the use of science and technology.
"Research has always motivated Eric. He started as a high school student in my lab on a project to detect stains and dyes on fabrics. With Magellan Scholar funding, Eric spent a summer working at the Library of Congress on detection of magnetic tape sticky shed (the deterioration of the binders in a magnetic tape that makes the tape unusable) and is now co-author on a recent publication," said chemistry professor Stephen Morgan, "At USC, Eric actively sought multiple research opportunities both on campus and abroad. I am delighted that he will represent USC as a Gates Cambridge Scholar."
The Gates Cambridge scholars are selected on the basis of outstanding intellectual ability, leadership potential, commitment to improving the lives of others and the fit between the applicant's qualifications and aspirations and the program at Cambridge. The aim of the Gates Cambridge program is to build a global network of future leaders committed to improving the lives of others.