Bound for Cambridge

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Amelia Fitch

Amelia Fitch grew up surrounded by estuaries in Astoria, Oregon. A biology major, she is curious about how land-management practices affect the chemical composition and microbial communities in the soil of tidal wetlands.

Now, as the first University of Oregon student to receive the Gates Cambridge Scholarship, she looks forward to graduate study at the University of Cambridge. The award, funded by a gift from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will cover all her educational costs and provide a stipend for living expenses.

“This is the full ride, above and beyond,” says Amelia, who recently defended her Clark Honors College thesis on carbon cycling in marine and freshwater wetlands and passed with distinction.

Scott Bridgham, director of the UO’s Institute of Ecology and Evolution, is proud of Amelia for pioneering new techniques for analyzing soil enzymes in pursuing her thesis.

“I have no doubt that Amelia is well on her way to becoming a very successful environmental scientist, with Cambridge an important step on her path,” he says.
An inspiring high school teacher helped spark Amelia’s interest in science. When it came time to pick a university, the financial package offered by the UO helped persuade her to become a Duck.

Thanks to the many donors supporting the UO’s Presidential Scholarship endowment, Amelia is graduating debt-free. Looking back, she says, they put her in the position to compete for the Gates Cambridge Scholarship.

“I am so grateful to the alumni who donated money to fund education at Oregon,” she said. “It’s made the whole difference. I think of it as an interest-free loan, because when I have a real job I want to pay back what I’ve been given.”

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