Catthi Ly

Catthi Ly, ’21 anthropology and human biology, has been named a 2022 Gates Cambridge Scholar. She is the first U.S. recipient from UCI in four years. The Gates Cambridge Scholarship supports postgraduate study at the University of Cambridge and is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to support students with demonstrated leadership ability, strong preparation for the selected Cambridge graduate program, and a deep and ambitious commitment to creating positive change. The Gates Cambridge program is one of the most prestigious and competitive scholarships in the world, with only 25 winners selected from the United States each year.

At Cambridge, Ly plans to earn a master of philosophy degree in health, medicine, and society within the Department of History and Philosophy of Science during the 2022-23 academic year. She will pursue her studies under renowned philosophy of health experts like Stephen John and highly regarded anthropologists Ignacia Arteaga and Maryon McDonald.

Looking forward to her time as a Gates-Cambridge Scholar, Ly says, “I’m interested in studying uncertainty in cancer medicine. I want to look into the philosophical implications of novel drug treatments that don’t reliably treat patients, and I want to look into questions of whether those medications should be considered a medical right. I’m also very interested to study the anthropological and philosophical implications of the treatment of pain and questions of how we improve empathy among caregivers.”

Having never been to the U.K., Ly is excited to join one of the oldest universities in the world, a place she associates with figures like Charles Darwin and Sir Isaac Newton. She is also excited for the opportunity to approach her studies from a new perspective.

“As an American whose focus is health equity, working in a system with universal health care will also be very influential for me. I am excited to see what can be implemented here and how their system handles diversity, diverse populations, and issues of inequity with immigrant groups from a cultural perspective.”

Being named a Gates-Cambridge Scholar is just the latest achievement in Ly’s decorated academic career. During her time at UCI, Ly was a University of California Regents’ Scholar, Campuswide Honors Collegium Ambassador, and junior inductee of Phi Beta Kappa. Ly has won the Campuswide Honors McWilliams Renaissance Award (given to two graduating Campuswide Honors students demonstrating expertise and excellence in a variety of academic fields), the Academic Excellence in Anthropology award (given to the top ten graduating seniors in the department), and the Distinguished Anteater Award (given to eighteen UCI students who demonstrate academic excellence and service). She was also named a semi-finalist for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program in 2021 to conduct breast cancer research at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Scholarship Opportunities Program director Rose Jones applauds Ly’s achievement. “Catthi’s success demonstrates the value of working with the SOP office. Over the past several years, she has worked closely with her primary advisor, Brendan Park, in polishing her writing and communication skills, gaining clarity on her educational and career ambitions, and continuing to build upon her research experiences and mentoring relationships,” she says. “All of us at SOP celebrate with Catthi on this amazing and prestigious opportunity and look forward to following her brilliant future.”

-UCI Division of Undergraduate Education


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