Two students named 2016 Gates Cambridge Scholars

A Carolina fourth-year student and a master’s student are among 35 people selected from 826 applicants in the U.S. competition for the scholarship.

The two students stand together posing for photo.
Matt Leming (left) and Larry Han, recipients of the Gates Cambridge scholarship, are seen on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Photo by Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

UNC-Chapel Hill students Larry Han and Matthew Leming have been awarded prestigious Gates Cambridge Scholarships, which provide full support for graduate study at the University of Cambridge in England.

This is the first time Carolina has had two people selected as Gates Cambridge Scholars in the same year. Carolina now has a total of five Gates Cambridge Scholars.

Han, a fourth year student and Leming, a master’s student, are among 35 people selected Wednesday from 826 applicants in the U.S. competition for the scholarship, which was established in 2000 and funded by a $210 million donation to the University of Cambridge by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It enables academically outstanding students from outside the United Kingdom with a strong interest in social leadership and responsibility to pursue graduate study at the storied university.

“Larry and Matt are those rare students who quietly and without fanfare change the landscape of their professions,” said Chancellor Carol L. Folt. “They have already accomplished so much in their young careers in academia and are outstanding representatives for our campus and their community. But their skills extend far beyond their fields. They are also humanitarians whose strengths lie in their ability to connect on a human level. I am excited to see what they do with their bright futures.”

Han, 21, from Raleigh, North Carolina, and the son of Bajin Han and Xiaomin Li, is a 2012 graduate of Leesville Road High School and plans to graduate this May with a major in biostatistics from the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and a minor in chemistry from the College of Arts and Sciences. Han was a nationally ranked teenage golfer and has worked in golf analytics. Ultimately he hopes to use statistics to help people improve their health trajectory. He has already made notable contributions in the treatment of HIV infection in China and malaria vaccine research in Africa.

At Cambridge, Han intends to pivot toward understanding how healthcare services and intervention delivery can be modified to improve patient outcomes. Specifically, he hopes to optimize regional hospital systems to reduce infection and mortality in acute-care settings, while improving the quality of patient-centered care. There, he will pursue a master in philosophy in strategy, marketing and operations at The Judge Business School. Han will begin his studies at Cambridge in 2017 after a year at Tsinghua in Beijing, China.

A Morehead-Cain Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa member and an Honors Carolina student, Han is completing a senior honors thesis on malaria vaccine efficacy using survival analysis. Han was a recipient of Carolina’s Phillips Ambassador Scholarship as well as a 2015 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship. He has also been named a member of the inaugural class of Schwarzman Scholars.

Leming, 22, the son of Gary and Lisa Leming of New Orleans, is a 2011 graduate of T.C. Roberson High in Asheville, North Carolina, and plans to graduate this May with a master’s in computer science from the College of Arts and Sciences as part of a five-year computer science bachelor’s and master’s program. He earned his undergraduate degree and completed minors in mathematics and Russian language and literature, also from the College, last year. He was a former columnist and cartoonist for the Daily Tar Heel and an associate editor for Carolina Scientific, and was the lead developer of the CarolinaGO mobile app.

At Cambridge, Leming will pursue a doctorate in psychiatry in Churchill College, focusing his research on analyzing the circuitous connections in the brain with diffusion and functional MRIs, as a way to predict mental illness and neurological disorders in children.

During summer 2013, Leming used his combined interest in computer science and Russian languages to work at a distributed intelligence systems laboratory at St. Petersburg State Polytechnical University in Russia. He has also worked at neural imaging laboratories at University College London and at UNC School of Medicine.

A Carolina Covenant Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa member and Honors Carolina alumnus, Leming completed a senior honors thesis on a method of assessing the effectiveness of MRI analysis software. Leming was a recipient of Carolina’s Class of 1938 Fellowship and a 2014 Burch Fellowship as well as a 2014 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship.

“I am honored to know Larry and Matt,” said Mary Floyd-Wilson, director of Carolina’s Office of Distinguished Scholarships. “In addition to being brilliant scientists and gifted researchers, they are both kind, civic-minded leaders who help generate communities wherever they go.”